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The Vienna School of Art History: Empire and the Politics of Scholarship, 1847–1918

MATTHEW RAMPLEY
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt32b9tg
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    The Vienna School of Art History
    Book Description:

    Matthew Rampley’s The Vienna School of Art History is the first book in over seventy-five years to study in depth and in context the practices of art history from 1847, the year the first teaching position in the discipline was created, to 1918, the collapse of Austria-Hungary. It traces the emergence of art history as a discipline, the establishment of norms of scholarly enquiry, and the involvement of art historians in wider debates about the cultural and political identity of the monarchy. While Rampley also examines the formation of art history elsewhere in Austria-Hungary, the so-called Vienna School plays the central role in the study. Located in the Habsburg imperial capital, Vienna art historians frequently became entangled in debates that were of importance to art historians elsewhere in the Empire, and the book pays particular attention to these areas of overlapping interest. The Vienna School was well known for its methodological innovations and this book analyzes its contributions in this area. Rampley focuses most fully, however, on the larger political and ideological context of the practice of art history, in particular the way in which art historical debates served as proxies for wider arguments over the political, social, and cultural life of the Habsburg Empire.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-06260-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-7)

    This book is a study of the practice of art history in Vienna and Austria-Hungary between 1847, when Rudolf von Eitelberger was appointed the first dozent (junior lecturer) in the subject, and 1918, the year the Habsburg Empire collapsed. It traces the emergence of art history, the establishment of norms of scholarly inquiry, and the involvement of art historians in wider debates over the cultural and political identity of the monarchy. It is the product of an extended period of reflection on art history in Habsburg central Europe. One of my first published articles was on Alois Riegl,¹ with whom...

  6. 1 FOUNDING A DISCIPLINE: LIBERALISM AND THE IDEA OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD
    (pp. 8-30)

    The establishment of the Vienna School of art history followed the confluence of a number of social, cultural, and political factors. The most important of these were the emergence of civil society in early nineteenth-century Vienna and the rise of liberalism as a political and social ideology. These were the necessary preconditions for the formation of a bourgeois intelligentsia that embraced liberal concepts of knowledge and professional identity. It is generally recognized that what distinguished the modern discipline of art history from antiquarianism was the idea of professionalism and scientific inquiry in the humanities, but this was, in turn, intimately...

  7. 2 QUESTIONS OF METHOD: FROM POSITIVISM TO THE HISTORY OF SPIRIT
    (pp. 31-51)

    In September 1873 the Museum for Art and Industry in Vienna hosted the first international congress of art history. Organized by Eitelberger, Lützow, and Thausing, it took place under the auspices of the Vienna World’s Fair, which lasted from May to November of the same year. It was a small-scale event—with only sixty-four participants—but the congress was nevertheless of considerable historical significance. It was the first attempt to gather together the leading international art historians of the day across Europe, with participants from Germany, Spain, England, Finland, Russia, and Italy, and it was an important marker of the...

  8. 3 BEYOND VIENNA: THE GROWTH OF ART HISTORY ACROSS THE HABSBURG MONARCHY
    (pp. 52-73)

    The final quarter century of the nineteenth century witnessed a considerable diversification of art-historical practices and institutions in Austria-Hungary. The universities and museums of Vienna had been the intellectual center of the monarchy until the 1870s, but in this decade their place began to be challenged by the growth of other institutions within the Empire, where new positions were created and opportunities provided for ambitious scholars and researchers who did not wish to be wholly dependent on Vienna. Indeed, the 1870s and 1880s were crucial decades in which art-historical discourses in languages other than German first achieved a rigorous footing....

  9. 4 AN ART HISTORY OF AUSTRIA-HUNGARY? PATRIOTISM AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF NATIONAL HISTORIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 74-95)

    The Austrian authorities fostered the study of art history in Vienna in the mid–nineteenth century in the context of the wider educational reforms of the state. As with the Institute for Austrian Historical Research, it was hoped that this would ensure that the energies of the intelligentsia would be channeled into projects aligned with the political and ideological priorities of the monarchy. Indeed, as Jan Bakoš has argued, the very notion of “scientific” art history was ideologically charged; its espousal by Viennese art historians was a coded means of claiming that they stood above the fray of local political...

  10. 5 BAROQUE ART AND ARCHITECTURE: A CONTESTED LEGACY
    (pp. 96-115)

    In 1880 a short pamphlet was published in Vienna with the titleDie Zukunft des Barockstiles(The future of the Baroque style). Its author, “Bernini the Younger,” sought to rehabilitate the Baroque from its detractors as well as from its recent imitators, who had introduced a debased neo-Baroque style in design and the applied arts. The pamphlet also argued for the decisive role of the Baroque as the architectural style of the future. “Bernini the Younger” was none other than Albert Ilg, and the pamphlet provided a notable instance of his frequent interventions into debates in the wider public sphere....

  11. 6 VERNACULAR CULTURES AND NATIONAL IDENTITIES: THE POLITICS OF FOLK ART
    (pp. 116-140)

    Falke’s comments, published in 1878, were an early contribution to what was one of the most important developments in the art world of late nineteenth-century Austria-Hungary: the rise of a critical interest in folk art. The discovery of folk art was, of course, a Europe-wide phenomenon, linked to the emergence of ethnology as a field of scholarly endeavor as well as to the growth of attention to primitive art. All three were, in turn, a reflection both of processes of modernization, in which urbanization fundamentally altered earlier customs and social practices, and of the colonial experience, which provided Europeans with...

  12. 7 READINGS OF MODERN ART: HISTORICISM, IMPRESSIONISM, EXPRESSIONISM
    (pp. 141-165)

    The engagement of art historians in Austria-Hungary with folk art or Baroque art and architecture was a coded intervention into the cultural politics of the present. This common feature in art-historical writing of the period was in evidence elsewhere too. For example, it is generally recognized that Aby Warburg’s interest in the Renaissance recovery of Dionysian antiquity was partly driven by his concern with contemporary anti-Semitism.¹ Likewise, as Fred Schwartz has argued, Heinrich Wölfflin focused on style as the central historiographical concept precisely because it stood in opposition to modern “fashion,” which, with its rapidly shifting forms, remained resistant to...

  13. 8 BETWEEN EAST AND WEST
    (pp. 166-185)

    One of the key ways in which Austria-Hungary defined itself was in terms of its relation to the “East.” Since Edward Said’s analysis of orientalism in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France and Britain, it has become a commonplace that the projected Oriental Other played a formative role in modern European conceptions of identity.¹ Said’s particular focus was on attitudes toward the Arabic Middle East among the French and British political, social, and cultural elite, and it is only relatively recently that his analysis has been broadened to encompass other European states, including imperial Germany.²

    This chapter considers the role of...

  14. 9 SAVING THE PAST: CONSERVATION AND THE CULT OF MONUMENTS
    (pp. 186-211)

    In 1903 Alois Riegl publishedDer moderne Denkmalkultus: Sein Wesen, seine Entstehung(later translated as “The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Essence and Its Origin”). Probably his best-known work on the subject, it was one of a series of texts he wrote on the preservation and conservation of monuments between 1902, the year he was appointed editor of the journal of the Austrian Central Commission for the Investigation and Conservation of Artistic and Historic Monuments (k.k. Zentralkommission für Erforschung und Erhaltung der Kunst- und Historischen Denkmale), and 1905, the year of his death.¹ With its complex presentation of the differing...

  15. EPILOGUE: CONTINUITY AND RUPTURE AFTER 1918
    (pp. 212-216)

    In 1917 the eminent Italian art historian Adolfo Venturi contributed to a volume entitledMonumental Dalmatia.¹ The book was a survey of the architectural remains from antiquity onward of the eastern Adriatic coastline, with contributions on the history, art, and culture of Dalmatia by Venturi, the journalist and novelist Pompeo Molmenti, and the ancient historian Ettore Pais. In art-historical terms the work was of little significance; it provided no new insights and uncovered no new material. Instead, it was meant as a piece of pure propaganda. The central thrust of all the contributions was an emphasis on the essentially Italian...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 217-242)
  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 243-270)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 271-281)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 282-282)