"Two Styles More Opposed": Harriet Hosmer's Classicisms Between Winckelmann and Bernini

  • Melissa L. Gustin (Henry Moore Institute)


This paper explores how Harriet Hosmer (1930-1908) positioned two early busts, Daphne (1853/4) and Medusa (1854) in opposition to Gianlorenzo Bernini's works of thes same subject through careful deployment of Winckelmannian principles. This engages with the first English translation of Winckelmann's History of the Art of Antiquity by Giles Henry Lodge in 1850, as well as the rich body of antique material available to Hosmer in Rome. It problematises art historical approaches to Hosmer's work that emphasise biographically-led readings over object-led interpretations informed by contemporary translations, discourses of originality, and display practices. It demonstrates the conflicting position of Bernini in the middle and late nineteenth century as the "Prince of Degenerate Sculpture", and shows that Winckelmann's victimisation of Bernini led to his poor reputation. This reputation as skilled but degenerate provided the foil for Hosmer to reclaim these subjects, demonstrate her correct understanding of classical principles and citation, and prove her superiority. Ultimately, however, the two artists will be shown to have more similarities than differences in their use of classical references; only access to Winckelmann's writings separates their reception in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Gianlorenzo Bernini, classical receptions, harriet hosmer, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, neoclassical sculpture, translation

How to Cite:

Gustin, M., (2021) “"Two Styles More Opposed": Harriet Hosmer's Classicisms Between Winckelmann and Bernini”, Journal of Latin Cosmopolitanism and European Literatures 6, 1–31. doi:

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Published on
30 Dec 2021
Peer Reviewed