Winckelmann as ‘Exemplum Vivendi’?

Johann_Joachim_Winckelmann_(Anton_von_Maron_1768)I recently read an interesting monograph on Winckelmann–and the following passage has inspired me to follow in Winckelmann’s footsteps, perhaps with a larger wardrobe, though:

“Winckelmann appears to have maintained […] modest habits throughout his time in Rome. Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmansdorff, who sought instruction from Winckelmann in Rome in 1765-6 […], gave the following retrospective account of Winckelmann’s living arrangements at that time:

‘At Rome he lived in Albani’s palace, where he occupied the top floor–as befits a man of letters, concerned less with his fortune than with his glory. Homer, Euripides, and concern other authors furnished his entire library. Moreover, he had no need of any other books, because he had a free run of the library of Albani, in which no one else took any interest. His entire wardrobe consisted of two black robes and a big fur coat which he had brought with him from Germany, and which he used to wear in winter because it was his habit never to light a fire in his quarters except in order to heat his chocolate. He kept no one to serve upon him.’

The point of Winckelmann’s conspicuously modest lifestyle was not only to save money. It was also an important aspect of the poor-yet-honest man’s self-presentation: dedication to a life of knowledge, not dedication to advancement or comfort, was the mark of an honorable scholar.” (p. 46)

Harloe, K. 2013. Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity: History and Aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft. Oxford.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s