Winkelman, Abbe John

, an eminent antiquary, was born at Stendall, in the old Marche of Brandenbourg, in the beginning of 1718. He was the son of a shoemaker, but although to all appearance destined by his birth to superintend a little school in an obscure town in Germany, he raised himself to the office of president of antiquities in the Vatican. After having been seven years professor in the college of Seehausen near Salswedel, he went into Saxony,where he resided seven years more, and was Jibrarian to count Bonau at Nothenitz. The count was author of an “History of the Empire,” and died 1762. His fine library, valued in 1749 at 15,000 English crowns, has been since added to the public library of Dresden. Mr. Winkelman, in 1748, made a most methodical and informing catalogue of it, in 4 vols. When he left this place in 1754, he went to Dresden, where he formed an acquaintance with the ablest artists, and particularly with M. Oeser, an excellent painter, and one of the best draughtsmen of the age. In that year he abjured Lutheranism, and embraced the Roman cathylic religion. In Sept. 1755, he set out for Italy, and arrived at Rome in December following. His principal object was to see the Vatican library, and to examine the ruins of Herculaneum. While engaged, as he tells us, in teaching some dirty boys their Abc, he aspired to a knowledge of the beautiful, and silently meditated on the comparisons of Homer’s Greek with the Latin literature, and a critical acquaintance with the respective languages, which were more familiar to him than they had ever been to any former lover of antiquity, both by his application in studying them, and his public lectures as professor of them. His extensive reading was improved in the noble and large library which he afterwards superintended. The solitude and the beauty of the spot where he lived, and the Platonic reveries which he | indulged, all served to prepare the mind for the enthusiasm winch he felt at the sight of the master-pieces of art. His first steps in this career bespoke a man of genius; but what a concurrence of^circumstances were necessary to develope his talents! The magnificent gallery of paintings and the cabinet of antiquities at Dresden, the conversation of artists and amateurs, his journey to Rome, his residence there, the friendship of Mengs the painter, his residence in the palace and villa of cardinal Albani, his place of writer in the Vatican, and that of president *of antiquities, were so many advantages and helps to procure him materials, and to facilitate to him the use of them for the execution of the design which he had solely in view. Abso,­lute master of his time, he lived in a state of perfect independence, which is the true source of genius, contenting himself with a frugal and regular life, and knowing no other passions than those which tended to inflame his ardent pursuit. An active ambition urged him on, though he affected to conceal it by a stoical indifference. A lively imagination, joined to an excellent memory, enabled him to derive great advantages from his study of the works of the ancients, and a steady indefatigable zeal led him naturally to new discoveries. He kindled iii Rome the torch of sound study of the works of the ancients. His intimate acquaintance with them enabled him to throw greater certainty upon his explanations, and even upon his conjectures, and to overthrow many arbitrary principles and ancient prejudices. His greatest merit is, to have pointed out the true source of the study of antiquity, which is the knowledge of art, to which no writer had before attended. Mr. Winkelman carried with him into Italy a sense of beauty and art, which led him instantly to admire the master-pieces of the Vatican, and with which he began to study them. He soon increased his knowledge, and it was not till after he had thus purified his taste, and entertained conceptions of ideal beauty, which transported him to inspiration, and led him into the greatest secrets of art, that he began to think of the explanation of other monuments, in which his great learning could not fail to distinguish him. At the same time another immortal scholar treated the science of antiquity in the same manner on this side the Alps. Count Caylus had a profound and extensive knowledge of the arts, was master of the mechanical part, and drew and engraved in a capital style. Winkelman was | upt endowed with these advantages, but in point of classical erudition surpassed the count; and while the latter employed himself in excellent explications of little objects, the former had continually before him at Rome the greatest monuments of ancient art. This erudition enabled him to fill ap his principal plan of writing the “History of Art.” In 1756 he planned his “Restoration of Ancient Statues,” and a larger work on the “Taste of the Greek Artists;” $od designed an account of the galleries of Rome and Italy, beginning with a volunqe on the Belvedere statues, in the manner of Richardson, who, he says, only ran over Rome. In. the preface he intended to mention the fate of these statues at the sacking of Rome in 1527, when the soldiers made a fire in Raphael’s lodge, which spoiled many things. He also intended a history of the corruption of taste in art, the restoration of statues, and an illustration of the obscure points of mythology. All these different essays led him to his “History of Art,” and his “Monumenti Inediti.” It must, however, be confessed, that the first of these works has not all the clearness and precision that might be expected in its general plan, and division of its parts and objects; but it has enlarged and extended the ideas both of antiquaries ancj collectors. The description of the gems and sulphurs of the Stosch cabinet contributed not a little to extend Mr. Winkelman’s knowledge. Few persons have had opportunities of contemplating such vast collections. The engravings of Lippet and count Caylus are all that many can arrive at. Mr. Winkelman’s “Monumenti Inediti,” of which he had begun the third vol. 1767, seem to have secured him the esteem of antiquaries. He there explained a number of monuments, and particularly bas reliefs till then accounted inexplicable, with a parade of learning more in compliance with the Italian fashion than was necessary. Had he lived, we should have had a work long wished for, a complete collection of the bas reliefs discovered from the time of Bartoli to the present, the greater part of which are in the possession of cardinal Albani. But however we may regret his tragical end, the intenseness of his application, and the eagerness of his pursuit after ancient monuments, had at last so bewildered tym, in conjectures, that, from a commentator on the works of the ancients, he became a kind of seer or prophet. yis warm imagination outran his judgment. As he proceeded in his knowledge of the characters of art in | monunients, he exhausted iiis fund of observations drawn from the ancients, and particularly from the Greeks. He cited early editions, which are frequently not divided into chapters; and he was entirely unacquainted with the publications in the rest of Europe on the arts and antiquity. Hence his “History of Art” is full of anachronisms.

In one of his letters, dated 1754, he gives an account of his change of religion, which too plainly appears to have been guided by motives of interest, in order to make his way to Rome, and gain a better livelihood. At Dresden he published, 1755, “Reflections on the Imitation of the Works of the Greeks,” 4to, translated into French the same year, and republished 1756, 4to. At Rome he made an acquaintance with Mengs, first painter to the king of Poland, afterwards, in 1761, appointed first painter to the house of Spain, with an appointment of 80,000 crowns, a house, and a coach; and he soon got access to the library of cardinal Passionei, who is represented as a most catholic and respectable character, who only wanted ambition to be pope. His catalogue was making by an Italian, and the work was intended for Winkelman. Giacomelli, canon of St. Peter, &c. had published two tragedies of j^schylus and Sophocles, with an Italian translation and notes, and was about a new edition of “Chrysostom de Sacerdotio;” and Winkelman had joined with him in an edition of an unprinted Greek oration of Libanius, from two Mss. in the Vatican and Barberini libraries. In 1757 he laments the calamities of his native country, Saxony, which was then involved in the war between the emperor and the king of Prussia. In 1758 he meditated a journey over the kingdom of Naples, which he says could only be done on foot, and in the habit of a pilgrim, on account of the many difficulties and dangers, and the total want of horses and carriages from Viterbo to Pisciota, the ancient Velia. Jn 1768 we find him in raptured with the idea of a voyage to Sicily, where he wished to make drawings of the many beautiful earthen vases collected by the Benedictines at Catana. At the end of the first volume of his letters, 1781, were first published his remarks on the ancient architecture of the temple of Girgenti. He was going to Naples, with 100 crowns, part of a pension from the king of Poland, for his travelling charges, and thence to Florence, at the invitation of baron Sto&ch. Cardinal Archinto, secretary of state, employed him to take care of his library. | His “Remarks on Ancient Architecture‘ 7 were ready for a second edition. He was preparing a work in Italian, to clear up some obscure points in mythology and antiquities, with above fifty plates; another in Latin, explanatory of the Greek medals that are least known; and he intended to send to be printed in England” An Essay on the Style of Sculpture before Phidias.“A work in 4to appeared at Zurich, addressed to Mr. Wrnkelman, by Mr. Mengs, but without his name, x entitled,” Thoughts on Beauty and Taste in Painting,“and was published by J. C. Fuesli. When Cardinal Albam succeeded to the place of librarian of the Vatican, he endeavoured to get a place for the Hebrew language for Winkelman, who refused a canonry because be would not take the tonsure. The elector of Saxony gave him, 1761, unsolicited, the place of counsellor Richter, the direction of the royal cabinet of medals, and antiquities at Dresden. Upon the death of the abbe Venuti, 1762, he was appointed president of the antiquities of the apostolic chamber, with power over all discoveries and exportations of antiquities and pictures. This is a post of honour, with an income of 160 scudi per annum. He had a prospect of the place of president of antiquities in the Vatican, going to be created at 16 scudi per month, and was named corresponding member of the academy of inscriptions. He had thoughts of publishing an” Essay on the Depravation of Taste in the Arts and Sciences.“The king of Prussia offered him by Col. Quintus Icilius the place of librarian and director of his cabinet of medals and antiquities, void by the death of M. Gautier de la Croze, with a handsome appointment. He made no scruple of accepting the offer; but, when it came to the pope’s ears, he added an appointment out of his own purse, and kept him at Rome. In April 1768 he left Rome to go with M. Cavaceppi over Germany and Switzerland. When he came to Vienna he was so pleased with the reception he met with that he made a longer stay there than he had intended. But, being suddenly seized with a secret uneasiness, and extraordinary desire to return to Rome, he set out for Italy, putting off his visits to his friends in Germany to a future opportunity. It was the will of Providence, however, that this opportunity should never come, he being assassinated in June of that year, by one Arcangeli, of whom, and of his crime, the following narrative was published: | Francis Arcangeli was born of mean parents, near the city of Pistoia, and bred a cook, in which capacity he served in a respectable family at Vienna, where, having been guilty of a considerable robbery, he was condemned to work in fetters for four years, and then to be banished from all the Austrian dominions, after being sworn never to return. When three years of his slavery were expired, he found friends to intercede in his favour, and he was released from serving the fourth, but strictly enjoined to observe the order of banishment; in consequence of which he left Vienna, and retired to Venice with his pretended wife, Eva Rachel. In August 1767, notwithstanding his oath, he came to Trieste with a view to settle; but afterwards changed his mind, and returned to Venice, where, being disappointed of the encouragement he probably expected, he came again to Trieste in May 1768. Being almost destitute of money, and but shabbily dressed, he took up his lodging at a noted inn (probably with a view of robbing some traveller). In a few days the abbe Winkelman arrived at the same inn in his way from Vienna to Home, and was lodged in the next apartment to that of Arcangeli. This circumstance, and their dining together at the ordinary, first brought them acquainted. The abbe expressed a desire of prosecuting his journey with all possible expedition, and Arcangeli was seemingly very assiduous in procuring him a passage, which the abbé took very kindly, and very liberally rewarded him for his services. His departure, however, being delayed by the master of the vessel which was to carry turn, Arcangeli was more than ordinarily diligent in improving every opportunity of making himself acceptable to the abbe, and their frequent walks, long and fainiliar conversations, and the excessive civility and attention of Arcangeli upon all occasions that offered, so improved the regard which the abbe had begun to conceive for him, that he not only acquainted him in the general run of their discourse with the motives and the event of his journey to Vienna, the graces he had there received, and the offers of that ministry; but informed him also of the letters of credit he had with him, the medals of gold and silver which he had received from their imperial majesties, and, in short, with all the things of value of which he was possessed.

"Arcungeli expressed an earnest desire to see the medals, and the abbe an equal eagerness to gratify his | curiosity; but the villain no sooner beheld the fatal coins, than yielding to the motions of his depraved heart, he determined treacherously to murder and rob the possessor. Several days, however, elapsed before he put his cruel design into execution, in which time he so officiously and courteously conformed himself to the temper and situation of his new friend, that he totally disarmed the abbe of all mistrust, and had actually inspired him with a sincere friendship.

"In the morning of the 7th of June, being determined no longer to delay his bloody purpose, he bought a sharp pointed knife, the instrument he intended to use in the execution, and then going to the coffee-house, he there found the abbe, who paid for him as usual, and continued with him in conversation till they both went home to dinner. After dinner they went again abroad together: but the villain having meditated a new scheme, he parted from the abbe and went and purchased some yards of cord, with which he returned home and retired to his chamber. Till the abbe came home, he employed himself in twisting the cord and forming a noose; and having prepared it to his mind, he placed that and the knife in a chair, ready. Soon after this the abbé came in, and, as his custom was, invited Arcangeli to supper. The cheerfulness of the abbe, and the frankness and cordiality with which he received and treated him, staggered him at first; and the sentiments of humanity so far took place, that his blood ran cold with the thoughts of his cruel intention, nor had he at this time courage to execute it. But the next morning, June the 8th, both going out of the inn together, and drinking coffee at the usual house, after Arcangeli had pretended in vain to hire a vessel to carry the abbe to Bagni, they returned to the inn, and each going into his Owr room, Arcangeli pulled off his coat (probably to prevent its being stained with blood) and putting the knife unsheathed, and the cord into his waistcoat pocket, about nine he went into Winkelmarf s chamber, who received him with his accustomed frankness, and entered into chat about his journey and about his medals; and, as he was upon the point of his departure, he invited the man, who was that instant to be his murderer, in the most affectionate manner, to Home, where he promised him his best assistance. Full of those friendly sentiments, the abbe sat himself down in his chair, when instantly the assassin, who stood behind him, threw | the cord over his head and drew it close. The abbe with both his hands endeavoured to loosen the cord, but the murderer with his knife already unsheathed stabbed him in several places. This increased the struggle, and the last efforts of the unhappy victim brought both of them to the ground; the murderer, however, was uppermost, and having his knife still reeking with blood in his hand, plunged it five times into the bowels of his wounded friend. The noise of the fall, and the groans of the abbe, alarmed the chamberlain of the house, who hastily opening the door, was witness to the bloody conflict. The assassin, surprised in the fact, dropped the bloody knife, and in his waistcoat only, without a hat, his breast open, and his shirt covered with blood, he escaped out of the inn.

"With the cord about his neck, and his wounds streaming, the abbe had still strength to rise, and descending from the second floor to the first, he placed himself against the balustrade, and called for assistance. Moved with compassion, those who heard his cries hastened to his relief, and helping him to his room, laid him upon his bed, where, having no hope of recovery, he received the sacraments, and made his will. After suffering a great deal with heroic constancy, and truly Christian piety, not complaining of his murderer, but most sincerely pardoning him, he calmly breathed his last about fourin the afternoon.

In the mean time the assassin had escaped into the Venetian territories, where, not thinking himself safe, he pursued his way to Pirano, with a design to embark in whatever ship was ready to sail, to whatever place; but expresses being every where dispatched with an account of the murder, and a description of the murderer, he found himself surrounded with dangers on all sides. Having found means, however, to change his deaths, he quitted the high road’, and passing through forests, and over mountains unknown to him, he at length came to a road that led to Labiana, and had already reached Planina, when a drummer, mistaking him for a deserter, caused him to be apprehended. Upon his examination, not being able to give a satisfactory account of himself, and being threatened by the magistrates of Aldesperg, he voluntarily confessed the murder, and eight days after committing the fact, wan brought back to Trieste, heavily ironed, and under a strong guard. Here he was tried, and being found guilty, as | well on his own confession as on the clearest evidence, he was sentenced by the emperor’s judges to be broken on the wheel opposite to the inn where he had perpetrated the murder, and his body to be exposed in the usual place of executions, On the 18th of June he was informed of his sentence, and on the 20th of the same month it was executed in all its points, in the presence of an innumerable multitude, who flocked from all parts to see the execution.

Some of Winkelman’s Mss. got to Vienna, where the new edition of his “History of Art” was presently advertised. He intended to have got this work translated into French at Berlin, by M. Toussaint, that it might be printed under his own inspection at Rome. It was translated by M. Hubert, so well known in the republic of letters, who has since published it in 3 vols. 4to, witlj head and tailpieces from designs of M. Oeser. An Italian translation of it by a literary society has been published at Milan.

Abbe Winkelman was a middle-sized man; he had a very low forehead, sharp nose, and little black hollow eyes, which gave him an aspect rather gloomy than otherwise. If he had any thing graceful in his physiognomy, it was, his mouth, yet his lips were too prominent; but, when he was animated, and in good humour, his features formed an ensemble that was pleasing. A fiery and impetuous disposition often threw him into extremes. - Naturally enthusiastic, he often indulged an extravagant imagination; but, as he possessed a strong and solid judgment, he knew how to give things a just and intrinsic value. In consequence of this turn of mind, as well as a neglected education, a cautious reserve was a quality he little knew. If hewas bold in his decisions as an author, he was still more so in his conversation, and has often made his friends tremble for his temerity. If ever man knew what friendship was, that man was Mr. Winkelman, who regularly practised all its duties, and for this reason he could boast of having friends among persons of every rank and condition. People of his turn of thinking and acting seldom or ever indulged suspicions: the abbe’s fault was a contrary extreme. The frankness of his temper led him to speak his sentiments on all occasions; but, being too much addicted to that species of study which he so assiduously cultivated, he was not always on his guard to repress the sallies of self-love. His picture was drawn half length, sitting, by a German lady born at Kosinitz, but carried when | young into Italy by her father, who was a painter. She etched it in a 4to size, and another artist executed it in mezzotinto. This lady was Angelica Kauffman. The portrait is prefixed to the collection of his letters published at Amsterdam, 1781, 2 vols. 12ino. Among his correspondents were Mr. Heyne, Munchausen, baron Reidesel (whose travels into Sicily, translated into English by Dr. Forster, 1773, 8vo, are addressed to him, and inspired him with an ardent longing to go over that ground), count Bunau, C. Fuesli, Gesner, P. Usteri, Van Mechlen, the duke de Rochfoucault, lord (alias Mr. Wortley) Montague, Mr. Wiell; and there are added extracts from letters to M. Clerisseaux, while he was searching after antiquities in the South of France a list of the principal objects in Rome, 1766, &c. and an abstract of a letter of Fuesli to the German translators of Webb on the “Beauties of Painting.1