CONF Apr 30, 2017

Imitation and Geographies of Art after Winckelmann (London, 15-16 Jun 17)

London, Jun 15–16, 2017

Hans Christian Hönes

Under the Greek Sky: Imitation and Geographies of Art after Winckelmann
King's College London / The Warburg Institute / British Museum, 15-16 June 2017

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.


Thursday, 15 June 2017, at King’s College London

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

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

Friday, 16 June 2017, at the Warburg Institute

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

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 Athena Leoussi (Reading): Beauty and the Sun: Aesthetics and Climate in the Making of the Modern European nations

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 Richard Wrigley (Nottingham): Winckelmann and Rome: an aerial perspective

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 Ian Jenkins (Senior Curator of Greek and Roman Antiquities)
‘Walking seminar’ at the British Museum



The conference is free of charge. Pre-registration is required:
Places are limited, in particular for the British Museum 'Walking seminar' and therefore admission can only be granted to those with booking confirmation.

CONF: Imitation and Geographies of Art after Winckelmann (London, 15-16 Jun 17). In:, Apr 30, 2017 (accessed Feb 6, 2023), <>.