MENGS, Anton Raphael
(b. 1728, Aussig, d. 1779, Roma)

Portrait of Johann Joachim Winckelman

Oil on canvas, 64 x 49 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Johann Winckelmann is an archaeologist and an art historian who is regarded as the father of modern archaeology because of his studies of the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy.

He wrote the formative essay, Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst (1755; Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks, 1765), in which he maintained, 'The only way for us to become great, or even inimitable if possible, is to imitate the Greeks.' His essay became a manifesto of the Greek ideal in education and art and was soon translated into several languages. His general Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums (1764; History of the Art of Antiquity) is virtually the first work to define in ancient art an organic development of growth, maturity, and decline.