Fregi classici in miniatura: il Partenone e il tempio di Bassae di John Henning

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Abstract

The Plaster Cast Gallery of the Department of Cultures and Societies at the University ofPalermo, renovated recently, includes two very interesting casts. They are two plaster replicas of theminiaturized reproductions of the Parthenon and Bassae friezes, made in London by the Scottishsculptor John Henning in the first decades of the 19th century. The reproductions were initiallycarved into small slate slabs, from which plaster casts could be obtained and sold. A lucrative tradeof bootlegged copies arose, but Henning gained nothing by that business. These artefacts, whichhave seldom captured the attention of the archaeologists, performed a twofold function: on one handthey were useful for study (in academic plaster cast galleries), on the other hand they were used asfurnishing elements (in private houses). This latter aim takes on a special historical and culturalmeaning. The replicas by Henning, who reproduced the Athenian relief also in stone on two Londonbuildings, testified the fast spread of the knowledge of the two classical friezes, newly known byEurope. The small casts, furthermore, were suitable for the contemporary taste, because, despite theirastonishing fidelity to the originals, their sharp figures seem to emanate a more neoclassical thanclassical aura. They, therefore, appear two typical “industrial” products of the 19th century at thesame time.
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)72-98
Number of pages27
JournalCLASSICO CONTEMPORANEO
Volume7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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