Bericht über die Aeginetischen Bildwerke im Besitz Seiner Königl.Hoheit des Kronprinzen von Baiern. Mit kunstgeschichlichen Anmerkungen von Fr.W.J.Schelling.
Stuttgart & Tübingen, J.G.Cotta’schen Buchhandlung 1817.
Small 8vo. xii + (2) + 245 + (1)pp, one folding engraved plate. Contemporary quarter red morocco, marbled boards, a little worn at outer corners. Some minor internal browning, due to the nature of the book’s paper stock, but a good copy, in fresh condition throughout.
First edition (and only edition in its original language) of this small but very significant volume which contains the earliest printed description of the sculptures on the east and west pediments of the temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina, probably dating from around 500 BC and particularly significant in the history of art in that they predate the Elgin marbles and other well-known examples of Greek classical sculpture. The sculptures concerned had been excavated from the temple site in 1811 by an Anglo-German team headed by the English architect Charles Robert Cockerell, and had subsequently been put up for sale at an auction held on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where they had been purchased by the German architect and sculptor Johann Martin Wagner (1777-1858), author of the report on them printed in the present volume, acting as an agent for the Crown Prince of Bavaria. The sculptures were eventually to become one of the most celebrated exhibits in the newly built Glyptothek in Munich, but they had first to be restored by the famous Danish-born sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, then working in Rome, and several years were to pass before they were put on public display. Wagner’s report on them was thus both the earliest proper description of them and the only account of them to be published before they were exhibited in their restored state. In the present volume Wagner’s remarks on them, extensive but essentially descriptive in character, are supplemented by additional text supplied by the German scholar Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854). Schelling was primarily known as a philosopher (he had been a pupil of Fichte, and had been first a friend and then an opponent of Hegel), but he held at this time an official position as Secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, and he provides both the volume’s introduction and intelligent passages of comment at intervals in Wagner’s report, focusing on the position of these sculptures in the wider art history of the time and on particular issues of aesthetics and of factual detail.An English translation by Louis A.Ruprecht jun. of Wagner’s report and of Schelling’s added comments was published in 2017, but the original German text retains its importance. The book is rare today and there was e.g. no copy of it in the great collection of books on Greece formed by the late Henry M.Blackmer. Not in BAL Cat.