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2008 | 6 | 9-22
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THE RECEPTION OF ANTIQUITY IN EUROPEAN JEWELRY AT THE BEGINNING OF MODERN TIMES (Recepcja antyku w bizuterii Europy u progu czasów nowozytnych)

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The purpose of the paper is to verify the widely held opinions about the alleged great effect of ancient jewelry (Greek and Roman) on the jewelry at the beginning of Modern Times and to examine what its actual influence consisted in. In the light of the conducted studies the propositions that antique jewelry largely shaped jewelers' art in modern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries can be regarded as unjustified and untrue. It is a fact that from the latter half of the 16th century Western Europe started to develop new attitudes towards the past, the unknown regions of the globe and towards Nature. The study of the past encouraged people to seek manuscripts of ancient works, collect medals, or carry out excavations that unearthed works of art and materials remnants of Antiquity. Some artifacts, e.g. ancient gems, became the object of close study, and were the pride of collections beside medals. Very often the new owners had the gems set again. Through this setting they changed their designation, turning them from glyptic objects into jewelry. The jewelry of the kind can be regarded as half modern, half ancient. This is one of the categories of modern-times jewelry, in which Antiquity, through genuine ancient gems, is introduced into circulation owing to modern settings. The second category of jewelry, which draws from ancient sources, is jewelry created on the basis of ancient patterns, imitating ancient sculpture, and often literally copying this sculpture. These are above all portrait cameos and intaglios, imitating ancient patterns, in precious and decorative stones, shells, in gold and in glass. Especially popular were the portraits 'a l'antique', which showed the head or bust in profile. The common feature of this category of jewelry is the imitation of the ancient manner, and borrowing patterns from sculpture, glyptics and numismatics. Portraits made in this way, framed in elaborate, colorfully enameled settings, became valuable gifts given to favorites or persons of special merit. The third category was jewelry which was not directly modeled on the fine arts but was inspired by Antiquity themes drawn from ancient literature, interpreted according to the conceptions regarded as ancient and created as gems from precious stones, shells, bones, or plaques cast in gold. At the beginning of Modern Times Europe hardly knew ancient jewelry, therefore the latter could not influence it. We can speak of the actual impact of this jewelry only as late as before the mid-18th century when great numbers of jewelry artifacts were obtained from the exploration of the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii buried during a Vesuvius explosion.
Słowa kluczowe
  • Ewa Letkiewicz, Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej w Lublinie, Instytut Sztuk Pieknych, al. Krasnicka 28, 20-718 Lublin, Poland
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