Enfilade

New Book | The Life and Times of Quatremère de Quincy

Posted in books by Editor on June 10, 2014

From Palgrave Macmillan:

Louis A. Ruprecht, Classics at the Dawn of the Museum Era: The Life and Times of Antoine Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy (1755–1849) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 300 pages, ISBN: 978-1137384072, $95.

9781137384072Antoine Chrysostome Quatremere de Quincy (1759–1849), arguably the foremost French classicist and art historian of the nineteenth century, is relatively little-known in English language scholarship. Three of his books were translated in the early nineteenth century, none in the twentieth century, and an important collection of two sets of open letters concerning museums, looting and repatriation was just published in 2012.

Quatremère has been unfairly called ‘the French Winckelmann,’ a charge that sticks primarily because so little of his work has ever been translated. In fact, he shows us, not what apish imitation of Wincklemann’s Neoclassicism looked like in the nineteenth century, but rather what these two overlapping disciplines had become in the generation after Winckelmann. Quatremère was formed by three crucial developments that Winckelmann did not and could not know: the French Revolution and its aftermath; Hegelian aesthetics; and the establishment of the museum era in Europe. Quatremère also remained committed to his Roman Catholicism and to the secular values of the early Revolution; in this he is very different than Winckelmann, who converted to Catholicism just before moving to Rome, and who was, according to many who claimed to understand him best, really a ‘closeted pagan’ if he were anything at all. Quatremère wrote eloquently and with deep insight concerning his understanding of the compatibilities between the Classical and Christian vision, an issue that does not figure in Winckelmann’s more intentionally ‘profane’ musings. Ruprecht hopes to show that Quatremère’s true importance emerges only if we situate him in his own times, one generation after Winckelmann, in a very different, and a far more revolutionary and secularizing cultural moment.

Louis A. Ruprecht is William M. Suttles Chair of Religious Studies at Georgia State University.

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