Image: William Pether, British, ca. 1738–1821. After Joseph Wright of Derby, British, 1734–1797. The Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Lamplight, 1769. Mezzotint. 17 1/2 x 22 1/8 in (44.5 x 56.2 cm). Lent by the Langhorne Collection, 2014.EL.1.89.
The eighteenth century, coincident with what is often termed the Age of Enlightenment, was a period of European history that witnessed a resurgence of an interest in antiquity, specifically in the culture of classical Rome. Wealthy, well-educated citizens of the European upper classes often cultivated their erudition by taking the Grand Tour, a journey that introduced them to the localities and to the antiquities of the Roman Empire. In the middle of the century, discoveries unearthed in the newly excavated sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum also stimulated fresh and keen interest in classical culture.
Naturally, the classical revival of the eighteenth-century impacted the realm of artistic production with the European societies that experienced it. This exhibition, which showcases a collection of prints recently gifted to the Museum and now on public display for the first time, explores a range of artistic responses to this cultural phenomenon, from the depiction of both contemporary and historical landscapes, to Neoclassical visualizations of ancient mythologies and historical events, to images that speak to the rise of antiquarianism.
The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is generously supported by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
We would also like to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.