Winckelmann and Neo‐Classicism
This chapter focuses on Johann Joachim Winckelmann, a student of Baumgarten who later became one of the most celebrated writers of his day. Winckelmann is generally regarded as the father of art history. Winckelmann's influence on his age was by all accounts enormous, and he became almost a cult figure in his own lifetime. With the possible exception of Klopstock, no German writer was held in such high regard. Winckelmann was admired by every major thinker of his generation — Lessing, Abbt, Nicolai, Mendelssohn, and Herder — and he was virtually canonized in the Goethezeit. In the early 1800s Goethe made him the patron saint of his own paganism and neo-classicism, invoking his memory to taunt the emerging Romantic movement. But the romantics too sanctified him. Even after his rebellion against neo-classicism, Friedrich Schlegel still revered ‘der heilige Winckelmann’.
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