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Romans and Romantics$
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Timothy Saunders, Charles Martindale, Ralph Pite, and Mathilde Skoie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588541.001.0001

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Seeing and Making Art in Rome: Carel Vosmaer’s The Amazon

Seeing and Making Art in Rome: Carel Vosmaer’s The Amazon

(p.285) 14 Seeing and Making Art in Rome: Carel Vosmaer’s The Amazon
Romans and Romantics

Elizabeth Prettejohn

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how the relationship between Romans and Romantics is enacted in Carel Vosmaer's novel The Amazon (1880, English translation 1884). This book is a roman-à-clef, the plot of which revolves around visits to Roman sculpture collections and the activities of contemporary painters and sculptors in Rome. The character Siwart Aisma re-enacts the career of Vosmaer's friend and Dutch compatriot, the painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Aisma's experiences of the Roman sculpture collections advance not only his own artistic development, but also the romantic plot: Aisma's beloved, the poet Marciana van Buren, is compared throughout the novel to the ancient sculptures of the Wounded Amazon. The chapter demonstrates how The Amazon weaves debates about realist and romantic aesthetics and about classical archaeology, including the new German techniques for identifying and comparing sculptural copies (Kopienkritik), into its love story. It concludes that, in this novel, Rome becomes the symbolic capital of an Empire no longer political, but aesthetic, which gathers all varieties of the beautiful under its sway.

Keywords:   Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Amazon, ancient sculpture, Georg Ebers, Kopienkritik, Carel Vosmaer, The Wounded Amazon

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