Under the Greek Sky: Imitation and Geographies of Art after Winckelmann

Under the Greek Sky: Imitation and Geographies of Art after Winckelmann
15 June 2017, 1.00pm - 16 June 2017, 6.00pm
Conference / Symposium
Warburg Institute and King's College London

2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the German classicist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, commonly regarded as the founding father of both, archaeology and art history. Winckelmann’s writings heralded a revolution in approaches to the history of ancient art and culture, as well as contributing to the spread of neoclassical taste throughout Enlightenment Europe.

This conference will re-evaluate Winckelmann’s legacy and his influence on art theory since the 18th century. The concept of imitation, central to Winckelmann’s theories and writings, proves to be a linchpin for modern ideas about the diffusion, appropriation, and musealization of art.

The first day of the conference will focus on the ‘culture’ of imitation. Winckelmann famously claimed, paradoxically, that one has to imitate Greece in order to become inimitable. From a range of historical and artistic perspectives, papers map the consequences this claim had for art’s theory, practice, and body politics since the 18th century.

The second day will discuss the ‘nature’ of imitation, and the consequences of the ecological boundaries set for it by Winckelmann. It will explore the implications of Winckelmann's climate theory for neoclassical geographies of art and contemporary debates on aesthetic relativism in the age of nationalism.

The conference is organised by Katherine Harloe (Reading University), Hans Christian Hönes (The Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Research Group), Daniel Orrells (King’s College London) and Sadie Pickup (Christie's). Additional support has been provided by the British Museum, the Institute of Classical Studies and Christie’s Education.

The event takes place over two days as follows:

15 June 2017 - 13:00-18:00 at King's College London

16 June 2017 - 10:00-17:15 at the Warburg Institute                           

                       17:45-20:00 at the British Museum


Programme     PDF of Programme

Thursday, 15 June 2017, at King’s College London, The Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Venue: Room K-1.14

13:00-13:15     Daniel Orrells (KCL), Katherine Harloe (Reading)                        


13:15-14:00     William Fitzgerald (KCL)                       

                       The Contour of Antiquity: Flaxman's Iliad

14:00-14:45     Daniel Orrells (KCL)

                       Visualising Antiquity in the Eighteenth Century

14:45-15:15     Coffee break

15:00-16:00     Kate Nichols (Birmingham)                        

                        A Jewish Ajax in an Australian Gold Mining Town. Reforming the classical body in

                        late Victorian visual culture

16:00-16:45      Verity Platt (Cornell)                        

                        Winckelmann’s Pharmacy: Description and the phantasia of restoration

16:45-17:00      Short break

17:00-17:45      Whitney Davis (Berkeley)                         

                        Imitation and Narcissism: Winckelmann Under Psychoanalysis

18:00                Reception        

                         Conference dinner for speakers


Friday, 16 June 2017, at the Warburg Institute

10:00-10:15     Hans Christian Hönes (BFZ)                         


10:15-11:00     Aris Sarafianos (Ioannina/Birkbeck)                        

                       Convenient Misunderstandings: Meteocultural Models in Britain, 1755-1830

11:00-11:30     Coffee break

11:30-12:15     Natasha Eaton (UCL)                        

                       The Sublimity of Decline: Winckelmann in India

12:15-13:00     Richard Wrigley (Nottingham)                         

                       Winckelmann and Rome: an aerial perspective

13:00-14:00     Lunch (provided for speakers and organisers only)

14:00-14:45     Mechthild Fend (UCL)                        

                       Beauty in an ‘unusual guise’. On colour and adaptation

14:45-15:30     Athena Leoussi (Reading)                       

                       Beauty and the Sun: Aesthetics and Climate in the Making of the 

                       Modern European nations

15:30-16:00     Coffee break

16:00-16:45     Pascal Griener (Neuchatel)                        

                       Winckelmann and Jacob Burckhardt. The life of antique statues in the

                       modern museum

16:45-17:15     Closing remarks / roundtable

17:45-20:00     ‘Walking seminar’ at the British Museum                        

                        Ian Jenkins (Senior Curator of Greek and Roman Antiquities)                        

                        Places are strictly limited and pre-registration is compulsory                          

                        (Admission will only be granted to those with a booking confirmation)                        




The conference is free of charge. Pre-registration is required - to book please click on the Book Now button below. Please note that only attendees who have registered in advance will gain admission on the day of the conference (for security reasons). Please print off a copy of your conference booking confirmation and bring this with you.

Places for the British Museum 'Walking seminar' are now sold out.


Jane Ferguson
020 7862 8910