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August 29, 2011

Winckelman’s Letter and Report on the Excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum Available in New English Translation 

"Mattusch brings together one of the most important archaeological sites in the ancient world with one of the most important figures in the history of art. This new translation of Winckelmann’s Letter and the first ever English translation of his Report on Herculaneum, backed up by Mattusch’s expert commentary, will be key reading for art historians and archaeologists." —Mary Beard, author of Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found


Melissa Crowley
Getty Publications
(310) 440-6795

LOS ANGELES—Letter and Report on the Discoveries at Herculaneum (Getty Publications, $50.00, paperback), translated and edited by Carol C. Mattusch, brings to light early scientific archaeology and the study of Herculaneum and Pompeii as observed by the erudite and acerbic art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) through a new English translation of two documents.  His Letter, published in German in 1762, displays his knowledge of geology, ancient literature, and art, while offering a scathing critique of the Spanish Bourbon excavations around the Bay of Naples and of the officials involved.  He further discusses these topics in his equally controversial Report of 1764.

The introduction describes the context in which these texts were written, identifies various politicians, academics, and collectors, and elucidates topics of particular interest to Winckelmann, from artifacts to local customs to the contents of ancient papyri.  The illustrations, particularly those from the Bourbon publication—Le Antichità di Ercolano (1757–92)—illuminate how these monuments influenced contemporary perceptions of the ancient world.

About the Author: Johann Joachim Winckelmann was a groundbreaking Prussian art historian and the author of History of Ancient Art (1764).

About the Editor: Carol C. Mattusch is Mathy Professor of Art History at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and the author of The Villa of Papiri at Herculaneum: Life and Afterlife of a Sculpture Garden (Getty Publications, 2005), which won the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award.

Publication Information:

Letter and Report on the Discoveries at Herculaneum
Johann Joachim Winckelmann
Introduction, translation, and commentary by Carol C. Mattusch
J. Paul Getty Museum
240 pages, 7 x 10 inches, paperback
150 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-089-6, $50.00 [UK £35.00]

Publication Date:  September 27, 2011


Kindly send two tearsheets of your review when published to Melissa Crowley, Getty Publications, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA  90049-1682.

Available at bookstores or through Getty Publications (800-223-3431). Distributed to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by the University of Chicago Press and in the U.K. and Europe by Orca Book Services. 

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