Are historians artists

Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf

Description:While the comprehensive history and art studies emerged in Germany in the 19th century and the first museums and art-historical overview works were founded through encyclopedic collection enthusiasm, in England Walter Pater embarks on a mental journey through time: Non-historical facts were the focus of interest in this search but the solipsistic self-projection into history. In his search for the past, Walter Pater always found himself and the problems relevant to his own time. For him, history became an individual system of signs; Writing history to a tautological problem of self-observation, because if the 'historian' was looking for the past, he would only find himself.

Artists also did the same. The Pre-Raphaelites in particular, who turned to unconsumed models of the early Renaissance in their rejection of academic tradition, used history in the image archive to look for new approaches and to find their own time in the past instead of always following the same models as Titian or Raphael . Edward Burne-Jones, one of the main exponents of painterly aestheticism and successor to the Pre-Raphelites, used this epoch-reconstructing and constituting procedure to mark the emerging masculinity designs of the late 19th century. The pre-Raphaelites' characteristic confrontation with the icon of the 19th century, Sandro Botticelli, in Burne-Jones ’work formally evoked not only a select linearity, but iconographically an androgyny of the figure design influenced by Botticelli's sad Madonnas and favored by homosexual circles. At the same time, Burne-Jones' intensive study of Michelangelo took place: Not only his powerful male nudes left traces in the work of the aestheticist and formulated the gender-specific, ultra-virile counter-draft to the androgynous figure inventions, the engagement with the Renaissance artist led to extremely plastic values ​​in Burne-Jones 'Paintings that stand in negation of the Botticelliesque, flaming line and also led to his own sculptural work.

What Edward Burne-Jones was to painting, Alfred Gilbert was to plastic aestheticism: Gilbert continued Edward Burne-Jones' epoch-reconstructing production aesthetics, selected epochs and styles according to socio-cultural and political viewpoints and thus carried out a three-dimensional formulation of Walter Pater's art and art Theory of history and the reversal of the traditional concept of mimesis carried out by Oscar Wilde. At the same time, a double-voiced discourse unfolded in Gilbert's work: the implementation of the Paterian theory of art and history worked in the elite circles of the London avant-garde around Oscar Wilde, but not in broader Victorian society. While this elite circle of art-critical dandies liked to use the body code of antiquity and renaissance promoted by Father, in order to define their own preferences and feelings about art and thus to find a language in an age that did not even have a word for homosexuality the same code that Gilbert deliberately used to add value to his sculptural works failed in the Victorian public.