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The Model of Antiquity : Anton Raphael Mengs and His Cast Collection / von Rolf H. Johannsen

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Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–1779) was one of the most important painters of his time, referred to by his contemporaries as the ‘Raphaele del nostro secolo’. Regarded as the originator of the Neoclassical movement, he revolutionized the art of his time. Among Mengs’s clients were kings, princes, popes and cardinals. He was active in Dresden and Madrid, and above all in Rome, where he assembled one of the largest collections of plaster casts of classical sculpture. Serving primarily as a source of study material for young artists, the collection could also be viewed by aristocratic and learned visitors to the city. Almost nine hundred of these casts were acquired by Elector Frederick Augustus III for Dresden in 1782, of which nearly five hundred are still extant today. The present publication traces Mengs’s life, exploring his role as artist and ardent collector of plaster casts. Twenty-seven of these – including the Belvedere Apollo and the Capitoline Venus – are examined in closer detail.