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Book review: Noah Heringman on Hans Christian Hönes, Kunst am Ursprung: Das Nachleben der Bilder und die Souveränität des Antiquars

14 September 2015

Origins, survivals, and other metahistorical fictions in Enlightenment conjectural histories of art

Review of:

Hans Christian Hönes, Kunst am Ursprung: Das Nachleben der Bilder und die Souveränität des Antiquars, Bielefeld: Transcript, 2014, 327 pp., 89 b/w illus., €37.99 pbk or ebook, ISBN 978-3-8376-2750-3.

Noah Heringman 13/NH1

Abstract: This learned and capacious study of three antiquaries writing at the turn of the nineteenth century—Pierre-François Hugues (better known as “Baron” d’Hancarville), Richard Payne Knight, and James Christie Jr—argues for a counter-tradition of art historical writing concerned with origins and survivals, exemplified in the experimental and conjectural work of these three men. Five chronological chapters focusing on each writer’s body of work (two each on d’Hancarville and Knight and one on Christie) are followed by three chapters devoted to concepts: “De-Temporalization” [Entzeitlichung]; “Surveyability” [Übersichtlichkeit]; and “Entanglements” [Verwicklungen]. Though at times overly ambitious, this will be an engrossing book for any scholar interested in eighteenth-century antiquarianism or conjectural history.

Keywords: origins of art, historiography, antiquarianism, Neoclassicism

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