Fine Arts | Acquiring the Past: A Critical History of Collecting Greek and Roman Art
A616 | 2048 | Van Voorhis

Problems in Roman Art

The history of Greek and Roman art has been constructed, in large part, by
those who have collected it.  The acquisition, restoration, display, and
interpretation of the works of classical antiquity have separated these
objects from their original contexts and created new, more complex
histories for them.  This course will examine the varied motivations for
collecting antiquities, their restoration and display, and the ideologies
behind the displays; it will also touch upon modern ethical concerns.  We
will begin with the Roman acquisition of Greek art and end with
present-day collecting trends.  The course will be largely directed by
student interest, and topics for exploration may include the collection
and display of pagan antiquities in Medieval cities (especially
Constantinople), Renaissance antiquarianism, the impact of the grand tour,
the early excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the impact of H.
Schliemann, the role of collecting in imperialist policy (i.e. Louis XIV,
Napoleon, Mussolini), the formation of national museums, the controversy
surrounding the repatriation of the Parthenon marbles, and so on.  We will
also explore the histories and changing interpretations of long-known,
familiar works, such as the Laocoon, the Apollo Belvedere, and others.
This course may count for credit in either ancient art or in the student's
area of concentration, as long as it is western.