Journal Article

‘Per accompagnare l’antico’

Cristiano Giometti

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 24, issue 2, pages 219-230
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhp046
‘Per accompagnare l’antico’

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The birth of a modern theory of restoration of ancient sculpture, as well as the rise of the restorer as a professional figure, is traditionally fixed at the point when the theories of Johann Joachim Winckelmann encountered the restoration practices of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. This new approach was completely different from normal practice a century earlier, when Bernini was restoring the Ludovisi Ares and Orfeo Boselli wrote, in his treatise of the Osservazioni, that the replacement of missing arms and legs was ‘necessarissimo’.

The long gap between Baroque restoration and the new theory of Winckelmann and Cavaceppi has been only partially investigated by scholars but it was at the beginning of the eighteenth century that a fresh approach to antiquity came to light. A new way of looking at the damaged marbles emerging from the earth began to take form and some scholars in literary and scientific academies began to consider these fragments as independent works of art. Nevertheless, the two different attitudes of practice and theory of restoration coexisted side-by-side without merging to form a new methodological approach. The tyranny of taste continued to prevail over the correctness of the fragments’ stylistic interpretation and the completeness of a statue remained an imperative. The high-quality outcome of a restoration still depended on the skill of the sculptor/restorer and his sensitivity in following the style of the antique master.

Journal Article.  7039 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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