Favorite object | A collection of Greek vases is a treasure of drawings
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A collection of Greek vases is a treasure of drawings

A collection of Greek vases is a treasure of drawings

Three hundred years ago he was born in Stendhal, Prussia, JJWinckelmann who would become Prefect of Antiquities in Rome and, thanks to his studies, considered the father of archeology and History of Art in the modern sense.

His tragic death occurred in Trieste on June 6, 1768 (next year will therefore be 250 years after his death) and his burial in our city left an indelible mark that Domenico Rossetti amplified with the creation of the Monument to the memory. Located in San Giusto, in the area just then freed from the Catholic cemetery, the monument became the catalyzing center of the ancient and modern artifacts of the history of Trieste, the original nucleus of the Lapidary Garden and the Triestine Civic Museums.

The 2017 activities of the Civic Museum of History and Art – Lapidary Garden will be linked to the celebration of such an important Genius loci starting with the conference on Wednesday 8 January at the Museo Revoltella. The presentation of the collections of the Greek vases recently updated on the second floor will be better understood in the light of the words of Winckelmann who, writing “a collection of vases is a treasure of drawings”, wanted to underline how “The vases that most of them should attribute to artists Greeks, I am more worthy object to be proposed to the study and imitation of our professors “.

With this intention the museum’s vases were welcomed, bought and exhibited above all for educational purposes and as the director Alberto Puschi wrote “are study materials, not only to the student and specialist but also to the craftsman, who will be able to learn from many examples of beautiful style and vague and correct execution “.

Winckelmann wrote in his History of the art of drawing among the ancients: “The collections of painted vases, which are true drawings, are the only ones left of the ancients. Here the figures are simply outlined in the manner that the drawings must be.

… in the scorgese vessels the frankness is the knowledge of the ancient artists equally and better still, than in the other works of theirs. … On most of the vases the figures are painted in a single color, or more accurately, the color of the figures is the very bottom of the vase, that is the natural color of the terra cotta which is a very fine clay; but the field of painting, that is, the color between one figure and another, is a nerdy paint, and the same color is made of the contours of the figures on the same background.

A connoisseur capable of judging the mastery and elegance of drawing, and practicing the way in which he spreads the colors on such works of terra cotta, he perceives in these paintings the clearest argument of the greatest skill, and the frankness of drawing painters.

This manner of painting great frankness requires a great deal of speed, for the terra cotta greedily drinks the wet, like a dry and burnt earth bee water; and therefore, where the outline does not do very quickly and only one stroke, the vase absorbs the damp of the brush, leaving nothing but a land that can no longer lie down. For this reason, in general, these lines do not show any interrupted or repulsed lines, and notice that the entire contour of a figure has been made with a single stroke; which attends the beauty and the rightness to bring us admiration. We must also consider that in this kind of work, no change or correction can be made, but the contours remain always the same, as they came out of the first stroke “.

The words of the great scholar will guide us to the vision of the vases of the Triestine collections, in a rich array of images. So we too could, like him, sustain: “I can assert at least that, having seen several hundreds of ancient vessels, I have observed in each one a particular painting and the others different”.

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