The Material Presence of Absent Antiquities

image slade ht2017

The History of Art Department are hosting the Slade Lectures in Hilary 2017. This series is on 'The Material Presence of Absent Antiquities: Collecting Excessive Objects and the Revival of the Past' with Caroline van Eck (Professor of the History of Art, Cambridge University).

What happens when we consider the great changes that transformed the European art world around 1800 not, as is usual, from the perspective of the human actors or the institutions involved but from that of the objects, their presence, agency and materiality? Starting from the outsize candelabra Piranesi made from Roman fragments excavated at Hadrian's Villa, two of which are now in the Ashmolean Museum, this year the Slade Lectures will trace the issues of authenticity, agency, and living presence these truly excessive objects raise, as well as the anthropological and psychological ramifications of the intense emotional investment by patrons, artists and collectors in Graeco-Roman objects. Starting from the biographies of these candelabra and related artefacts, these Lectures will argue that a material turn took place in the decades around 1800 that affected both making and collecting art, as well as the origins of the major European museums.

This session is on 'A Neo-Classical Dream and an Archaeologist's Nightmare': Piranesi's Colossal Candelabra in the Ashmolean Museum and the Louvre'.


Public Engagement with Research

Contact name: Rachel Leach

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Audience: Open to all