Christopher Johns, Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Professor of History of Art, will present a paper on December 8 titled “Winckelmann at the Villa Albani: Sculptural Display and the Politics of Patrimony in Enlightenment Rome.” The two-day conference, “Johann Joachim Winckelmann and the Transalpine Fantasy of Modern Paganism,” is being held at New York University in honor of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Winckelmann, the celebrated antiquarian and reputed “father of art history.”
Johns will explore the cultural and philosophical connections between Cardinal Alessandro Albani and his librarian Winckelmann in the context of the chic new villa built by Albani on the Villa Salaria just outside the northern gateway of Rome. The villa’s primary function was to display the Cardinal’s impressive collection of antiquities, which was the finest private assemblage of ancient sculpture then in existence. The Villa Albani’s intellectual and museological culture also gave rise to some of the most influential art theoretical and historical publications of the eighteenth century, some of which are still of crucial importance to the disciplines of archaeology, philology, history of art, and museology.
*Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), Johann Joachim Winckelmann, ca. 1777, oil on canvas, 63.5 x 49.2 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In this posthumous portrait Winckelmann is shown holding a Greek edition of Homer’s Iliad.