Classical antiquities and fine art

With the benefit of hindsight this use of anatomy seems obvious to us, but at the time it was a revolutionary approach and one which subsequently earned Morelli the title 'father of modern art history.' Jonathan Richardson's work had been too advanced for its time, Morelli's was very much in the spirit of the time. His anatomical drawings, so often illustrated, were, in fact, few in the actual publication, and their purpose has not always been fully understood. In what we would today call the psychology of perception Morelli was teaching himself to look closely at details which he had already decided were important. Similar sketches of anatomical details would be used to identify the painters of Athenian vases.

Photo of Gisela Richter
  • Photograph of Gisela Richter, 1952

The first English translation of Critical Studies, financed by Henrietta Hertz, had been by the wife of Jean Paul Richter, a younger art historian, who had worked with Morelli over many years. His daughter, Gisela, became the leading classical archaeologist of her generation, publishing many books, and acting as Curator of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1925 to 1948. Not surprisingly she was one of the first to recognise the importance of Beazley's new method of studying Greek vases. Her father had introduced Bernard Berenson to Morelli the year before he died.

Photo of Bernard Berenson
  • Photograph of Bernard Berenson at I Tatti, 1903

Berenson's later use of Morelli's method to attribute large numbers of paintings and drawings is well known. His essay on method, Lorenzo Lotto, An Essay in Constructive Art Criticism, was published in 1895. Less well known is its dedication to an American classicist, Edward Perry Warren.

Photo of E P Warren (1890)
  • Photograph of Edward Perry Warren as a young man, about 1890

Warren had sponsored Berenson's admission to Harvard and later helped to finance his first trip to Europe. Warren and Berenson kept in touch with each other. In 1887 they visited galleries together in Paris, and in 1888 Berenson came to Oxford where Walter Pater was lecturing. In 1873 Pater had published Studies in the History of the Renaissance, and by the 1880s he was well known. Today his influence on classical archaeology tends to be overlooked. Yet, before a professorship was established in 1885, Pater was the only person who gave a formal course of lectures on Greek Art in the University of Oxford. John Ruskin gave occasional lectures at roughly the same time, but Pater was far more influential. Some of his lectures on Greek sculpture were published under the title Greek Studies in 1895.

Soon after leaving Oxford Warren used his considerable personal funds to lease, and then purchase, a country house at Lewes, in Sussex. Lewes House, seen here below in a watercolour by Roger Fry, became a meeting place for men interested in the arts. Among the visitors to Lewes House in its heyday, before the first World War, were Berenson and Beazley.

Photo of E P Warren (1910)
  • Photograph of Edward Perry Warren, about 1910
Watercolour of Lewis House
  • Watercolour of Lewes House by Roger Fry, 1908
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