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The Antiquity in Books, 1600–1800

Antiquarians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often compiled their knowledge in imposing figurative books of antiquities, like “paper museums” that displayed, through engravings and drawings, a significant number of classical works.

The images of classical art contained in these paper museums sparked a series of major phenomena in eighteenth-century art history: the flourishing of classical taste and neoclassical style, the dawn of art historiography, and the broadening of the notion of Antiquity to new geographic areas and cultures.

The exhibition reveals the extreme richness of these collections of drawings and engravings, leading visitors from the Museo Cartaceo by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657) — a scholar who accumulated a famous collection of reproductions of classical works — to the 1760–1800s, a period marked by the illustrated works of Caylus, Winckelmann and Séroux d’Agincourt. It gives an overview of the classification system of these works and shows how, particularly after the excavation of Herculaneum, antiquarian literature was enriched with sumptuous publications.

Finally, the exhibition also presents the many objects and instruments that were used by antiquarians and thus paved the way for the birth of two modern disciplines: art history and archeology.

This exhibition was made possible through the sponsorship of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Organized by: Elisabeth Décultot, CNRS – Centre Marc-Bloch

Practical information

Location:

Sully wing, first floor, Chapelle room

Admission fees:
Included in the museum ticket: €10.