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Title:Style and truth in the neoclassical art theory and criticism of Anton Raphael Mengs and Johann Winckelmann
Author(s):Duffy, Michael Hollowell
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ziff, J.
Department / Program:Art History
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Fine Arts
Art History
Abstract:Anton Raphael Mengs has long enjoyed a greater reputation as an educator and art theorist than as a painter. Mengs' advice to young artists on the masters and precepts of the classical-minded Roman School of painting was substantially enriched by his early collaboration with Johann Winckelmann in Rome during the middle 1750s. The early Roman writings of Mengs and Winckelmann reveal a systematic effort on the part of the two friends to collect physical evidence for a superior style of art that prevailed during the cultural and political height of ancient Greek civilization. Mengs and Winckelmann made qualitative distinctions between archaic and classical Greek art and reconstructed the latter around the concept of ideal beauty, which was not previously identified with a style that actually existed.
In his own writings on art, Mengs discovered characteristics of ancient Greek art that prevailed in the paintings of High Renaissance masters like Raphael and Correggio, who succeeded the generation of Leonardo and Perugino. Raphael's nobility and simplicity of design and expression as well as Correggio's elegant line and chiaroscuro effects suggested that these painters studied the art of antiquity with great care. Mengs' Parnassus paid tribute to the higher poetic vision of the ancients and to Raphael as the modern artist who restored this vision in his selection of beautiful parts and in his creation of evolving lifelike figural expressions. Mengs' own history paintings open the event to the spectator and reveal a unity, simplicity, immediacy and refinement of figural parts and effects that underscore his admiration for the late styles of Raphael and Correggio. Mengs' belief that the ancient Greeks were superior to their modern counterparts in their methodology and knowledge of natural phenomena was shared by artists and connoisseurs who were contemporary with Mengs. Daniel Webb, Joshua Reynolds, Francesco Milizia, Benjamin West and others would similarly emphasize the comparative method, ideal beauty, a very select taste for High Renaissance masters and the moral quality of beauty in human features and in the general effects of a composition.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Duffy, Michael Hollowell
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136584
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136584

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