chapter  7
21 Pages

From Classicism to Romanticism

Dresden and its ancient gallery was an important topos of eighteenth-century German philhellenism providing a tangible manifestation of Greek culture. This chapter discusses a core issue in classicism. The role of visual culture was important for Friedrich Schlegel's understanding of ancient Greece. Johann Joachim Winckelmann's historical studies on classical sculpture were an important resource for his history of literature. The rise of Romanticism at the turn of the nineteenth century was a solution to the conflict between two historical principles: completed antiquity and the never-ending perfection of modernity. This was also reflected in the change of interest in Romantic art history from perfected Greek sculptures to early modern paintings. The chapter ends by describing Schlegel's transition from his earlier philhellenic position to his later position, which emphasised the exemplary role for the future of Germany of the Middle Ages more than ancient Greece.