March 05, 2012

New Book Provides First English Translation of Quatremère de Quincy’s Reactions to the Removal of Antiquities from Their Native Countries


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Melissa Crowley
Getty Publications
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LOS ANGELES—In the 1790s and early 1800s, the art world experienced two big events: First came the military confiscation of masterpieces from Italy and northern Europe in order to build a universal museum in Paris’s Louvre. Then famous marble sculptures were prised from the Parthenon and sent to London. These events provoked reactions ranging from enthusiastic applause to enraged condemnation. Letters to Miranda and Canova on the Abduction of Antiquities from Rome and Athens (Getty Publications, $50.00, paperback) provides the first English translation of two pamphlets written by Quatremère de Quincy in which he expresses seemingly contradictory reactions to the two events.

French art critic, architectural theoretician, and political conservative Quatremère was at the center of the European debates. In his pamphlet Letters to Miranda, he condemns the revolutionary hubris of putting “Rome in Paris” and urges the return of the works. In Letters to Canova, however, he celebrates the British Museum for making the Parthenon sculptures accessible.
Quatremère’s writing was highly controversial in its time, but is now considered one of the founding texts of museology. In addition to providing the first English translation of these two series of letters, the book also contains a new critical introduction by Dominique Poulot.
About the Authors—Antoine Quatremère de Quincy (1755–1849) was a French archaeologist, architectural theoretician, arts administrator, and influential writer. Dominique Poulot is professor of the history of art at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Chris Miller is a translator specializing in the fine arts. David Gilks is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London.

Publication Information:
Letters to Miranda and Canova on the Abduction of Antiquities from Rome and Athens
Antoine Quatremère de Quincy
Introduction by Dominique Poulot
Translated by Chris Miller and David Gilks
Getty Research Institute
208 pages, 7 x 10 inches, paperback
17 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-099-5, $50.00 [UK £34.99]
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Kindly send two tearsheets of your review when published to Melissa Crowley, Getty Publications, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682.

Available at bookstores or through Getty Publications (800-223-3431). Distributed to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by the University of Chicago Press and in the U.K. and Europe by Orca Book Services.

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