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Ludovic Jouvet // A new Antiquity - Engraved Gems in Early Modern Europe

Forschungsprojekt des James Loeb Fellows 2020

My project aims to study both classical and modern gems in order to measure the reception of Antiquity in the modern period and its place in the visual culture of the European aristocracy. Modern gems were indeed part of the most precious collections forming thus a visual repertoire for artists. In order to examine these modern gems, a true recreation of an object "à l'antique", I will analyze the Prince-elector of Bavaria’s collection as well as the King of France’s one for their ancient origins and the close contact between the two courts. It will be then possible to write a history of their development as well as to carry out a comparative study.
The second part of the research will be dedicated to the iconography of modern gems and copies of antiques examining the evolution of iconographic choices that will participate in the writing of an aesthetics of Antiquity during the modern period. From these two collections, I will determine which antique subjects are privileged in modern production measuring the importance of antique culture in the 18th century. Do modern gems, or "à l'antique" illustrate antique literature, antique works from the great princely collections or those found in excavations in the 18th century? In the context of the rediscovery of antiquities outside Rome, I will also focus my attention on the iconographic subjects that have emerged from it, particularly Homer's Iliad, which became an important theme in contemporary history painting.


Caption: Marquise de Pompadour, Victoire de Lawfelt, engraving, after J.-M. Vien and J. Guay, in Suite d'estampes gravées par Madame la marquise de Pompadour d'après les pierres gravées de Guay, graveur du Roy, Paris, [ca.1755], pl. 14.