The Father of Art History is a title often attributed to the German art historian and archaeologist, Johann Joachim Winckelmann. He was born in 1717 in Prussia and was a key figure in the development of world art history.
Winckelmann is credited with being one of the first to apply an analytical approach to art, rather than just focusing on its aesthetic qualities. He also developed a system for categorizing works of art into different periods and styles, which formed the basis for much of the way art history is studied today.
Winckelmann was a prolific writer, publishing numerous books on the subject of classical art history. His most famous work is Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, or “The History of Ancient Art”, which was published in 1764 and remains an influential text today. In it, he outlined his theories about how art had developed over time, identifying three distinct styles: Egyptian, Greek and Roman.
Winckelmann’s influence has been felt throughout the centuries since his death in 1768. He has been cited as a major influence by many later figures such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried Herder who were both heavily influenced by Winckelmann’s writing. As well as being an influential theorist, Winckelmann played an important role in collecting ancient artifacts from Egypt and Greece for museums across Europe.
As well as being known as The Father of Art History, Winckelmann is also sometimes referred to as “The First Archaeologist” due to his pioneering work in excavating ancient sites such as Herculaneum in Italy. His legacy lives on today not only through his writings but also through the countless artifacts that he collected throughout his career.
In conclusion, Johann Joachim Winckelmann is seen by many to be the Father of Art History due to his groundbreaking approach to studying works of art and developing a system for categorizing them. His influence can still be seen today through both his writings and through all the artifacts that he collected during his lifetime.