After the Antique

June 27th, 2011 Comments Off on After the Antique

“After the Antique” like “Allegorical Subject” have to be among the most useful titles. Right up there with the 20th century favorite “Untitled.” The drawing by the Danish artist Melchior Lorck, just below, shows a group of draped figures (“draped figure” is also terrifically generic and useful).  Lorck drew  it in 1552, the year he visited Rome. The figures are fragmentary, all are headless and many have lost their arms, making them more difficult to identify. The Muse Melpomene at the center of the drawing holds a theatrical mask and as a consequence is much easier to recognize than the others. Since the mask is part of the main shaft, and not an extremity, it has survived. Often, people who study classical art are good at identifying figures even if they are without heads and attributes. The stance, and dress tell a lot.

Melchior Lorck (1526/27-after 1583) | Eighteen Studies after the Antique | Pen and gray-brown ink, brush and wash | 266 x 190 mm | Statens Museum for Kunst | Copenhagen

The table below has some electronic resources for studying ancient sculpture and drawings (documents as they’re called by scholars of the antique). I hope to add more links here.


Resource LINKInstitution Behind ProjectDetail
Bibliotheca HertzianaBibliotheca Hertziana, RomeDigital library to digitized books to Antike Kunst. Works by Pietro Santo Bartoli, Domenico Augusto Bracci. Adding
Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the RenaissanceBerlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften Combined with corpus of ancient art known in the Middle Ages and Winkelmann, Corpus
Monumenta Rariora: La fortuna della statuaria anticaScuola Normale Superiore, PisaGiovan Battista Cavalieri, Girolamo Franzini, Lorenzo and Andrea Vaccaro, François Perrier, Paolo Alessandro Maffei, and Dominic Magnan
Musei Capitolini, RomeMusei Capitolini, Rome25,000 images and adding
Speculum Romanae MagnificentiaeUniv. of ChicagoPublisher Antonio Lafreri's 1570s engravings after Roman art and architecture. +1,000 prints



Often draftsman would not be copying any specific work, but instead found broad inspiration in the antique. “All’antica” is what it’s called and the danger is that one could be looking for a sculpture that never existed in the first place.

Tagged ,

Comments are closed.