In 1764, Johann Joachim Winckelmann published a key early instance of art-historical thinking, his "Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums", here translated into English for the first time. Dazzled by the sensuous and plastic beauty of recently ...
excavated artifacts - coins, engraved gems, vases, paintings, reliefs, and statues - Winckelmann synthesized the visual and written evidence then available into a systematic history of art in ancient Egypt, Persia, Etruria, Rome, and, above all, Greece. His passionate yet detailed inquiry investigates the idea of beauty over time and space, offering a chronological and descriptive account whose conceptual and historical paradigms have been reiterated and contested into the twentieth century. Alex Potts's introduction not only sketches the circumstances that shaped Winckelmann's project but also assesses this scholar's indelible influence on European intellectual life - for both modern art history and archaeology commence with Winckelmann.