Congratulations to Hans-Christian Hönes on the publication of his article “Die Geburt der Kunstgeschichte in England: Gottfried Kinkels Vorlesungen am University College London 1853”.
The article presents a recent discovery, namely the manuscripts of the first ever lecture in art history at an English University. Hans Christian was able to identify Kinkel’s hitherto unknown draft manuscripts for this lecture among his papers archived at the University of Bonn.
For those of you who would like to learn more about this pivotal event in the history of British art history (and happen to be in London): Hans Christian is giving a Lecture on this very topic on November 19, as part of the UCL Art History Department’s Research Seminar Series.
Gottfried Kinkel: Lecture the second. The arts during the Middle Ages (UB Bonn S2705, 28)
8 – 9 October 2015
Annual Workshop of the International Research Group Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’ legacy and the future of Iconology at the Kunsthistorische Institut Florence
organized by Maria Teresa Costa and Hans Christian Hönes
Aby Warburg: Bilingual Manuscript of “I costumi teatrali”, WIA III.42.1, fol  © The Warburg Institute, University of London
The workshop situates itself at the crossroads of art history and translation studies, exploring, for the first time, the problem of self-translation in the realm of art writing. One the one hand it seeks to provide a theoretical framework from Translation Studies, on the other hand it aims to offer case-studies from Art History and related fields, providing a unique and comprehensive overview on how a discipline defines itself through cultural transfers. Weiterlesen
Oxford students, 1930 – the year of the first PhD in Art History awarded in England.
It is well known that, for a long time, Art History didn’t have it easy in Britain. After all, this is the country where the first Secretary of State for Culture (a position that was established only in 1992) joked that he was now head of the “ministry of fun.” The first chair in Art History was thus only established in 1955 at the university of Oxford. Only since then has it been possible to receive a proper university education in the subject – or so the story goes. When Francis Haskell gave a “Thank offering to Britain” lecture on 22 November 1988, he apparently felt uneasy. His homeland, Haskell said, had after all absolutely no merits in the proliferation of art historical research. “Any English art historian of my generation is bound to feel even more embarrassed than flattered to be asked to give the ‘Thank you to Britain’ lecture.” His lecture on “The Growth of British Art History and its Debts to Europe” (Proceedings of the British Academy LXXIV (1988)) thus emphasised first and foremost the latter part: That art history as an academic discipline was a complete import from Europe, transplanted to the British Isles. That the said first chair at Oxford was held by Edgar Wind, a German émigré, supports this argument. Haskell consequently dedicated his lecture not to England, but to the Warburg Institute, as the driving force, or so he argued, behind the establishment of Art History in Britain. Weiterlesen
The language of art history is a fascinating field of study. What metaphors and stylistic devices were used by art historians in order to describe such art historical phenomena as image-circulation, artistic transmission, or influence? One set of metaphors that remains to be researched is metaphors stemming from the field of numismatics and coinage. Aby Warburg used significant metaphors stemming from the realm of coinage and minting in order to describe processes of influence and ‘cultural imprints’. In the introduction to Mnemosyne, for example, he wrote of the “Prägewerk, das die Ausdruckswerte heidnischer Ergriffenheit münzt” (the mint, which coins the expressive values of pagan emotion). The ‘pathos-formula’ underlying Western image production is in Warburg’s language thus, quite literally, coined.
This photograph from the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection, shows a modern medallion. The design on it appears to depict mint workers strikig coinage and was possibly inspired by Roman coins with images of minting activity struck onto them.
Misunderstandings can be quite productive sometimes – or at least historically interesting. Such is the case of the German geographer and pioneering Africanist Karl Heinrich Barth (1821-65). Among many other things, Barth was the first to describe the splendid rock paintings that can be found in the Lybian desert. His description of them can be found at pp. 207-17 in volume 1 of his 1859-60, 5-volume publication Reisen und Entdeckungen in Nord- und Central-Afrika in den Jahren 1849 bis 1855, which is conveniently now freely available courtesy of the Internet Archive. The images are today probably known best from their appearance in Michael Ondaatje’s novel “The English Patient” (and it’s screen-adaptation), in which the so-called ‘cave of swimmers’ plays a crucial part in the narrative.
Rock art from the Libyan site, now widely known from the Michael Ondaatje novel ‘The English Patient’ and its 1996 film adaptation.