Winckelmann, Johann Joachim

BORN 9 Dec 1717, Stendal, Sachsen-Anhalt - DIED 8 Jun 1768, Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
CAUSE OF DEATH murdered by stabbing
GRAVE LOCATION Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Basilica di San Giusto, Piazza della Cattedrale (grave cleared; remains were put in the charnel house)

Johann Winckelmann came from a poor family. His father was a cobbler and his mother the daughter of a weaver. He was able to enter the University of Halle to study Theology in 1738. But he was mainly interested in the Greek classics. In Jena he attended medical classes, but he never became a physician. From 1743 to 1748 he was deputy headmaster at the gymnasium of Seehausen. This paid so little that he became a private tutor near Magdeburg for the Lamprecht family.

In 1748 he was appointed secretary of Heinrich von Bünau's library at Nöthnitz near Dresden. He assisted Bünau in writing a book on the Holy Roman Empire. After a visit by the papal nuncio in 1751 he joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1754. In 1755 he published "Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst" about the imitation of Greek works in painting and sculpture. The book made him famous. In November of the same year he went to Rome where intended two stay for two years. He became librarian to Cardinal Passionei (1682-1761) who was impressed by his writing style. Later he became the librarian of Cardinal Alessandro Albani (1692-1779).

With the help of the painter Anton Raphael Mengs he studied Roman antiquities and his knowledge of ancient art became immense. In 1758 and 1862 he visited Naples and he witnessed the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum. In 1863 he was appointed Prefect of Antiquities by Pope Clement XIII. He still worked for Albani as well. His best known work "Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums" ("The History of Art in Antiquity") was published in 1764. He went to Naples again in 1765 and 1767. He published "Monumenti antichi inediti" ("Unpublished monuments of antiquity") in 1767-1768.

In 1768 he visited Munich and Vienna, where he was received by Maria Theresa. On his way back home he stayed in Trieste where he murdered for an unknown reason in a hotel bed by a fellow traveller named Francesco Arcangeli. Winckelmann was buried in the churchyard of Trieste Cathedral. Arcangeli was executed a month later. Later his remains were transferred to the charnel house. His grave monument is now at the Lapidario Tergestino near the cathedral.

Related persons
• was pupil of Casanova, Giovanni Batista
• met Kauffmann, Angelica


The grave monument for Johann Joachim Winckelmann at the Lapidary Garden near the Basilica di San Giusto in Trieste. His remains were put in a charnel house.
Picture by Androom (26 Aug 2022)


Johann Joachim Winckelmann - Wikipedia

Windeck, Agnes

Published: 24 Jan 2023
Last update: 24 Jan 2023