Opponents: Prof Lorenz Winkler-Horacek , Institut für Klassische
Archäologie der Freien Universität Berlin und Abguss-Sammlung Antiker
Dr Aira Võsa, University of Tartu Library
This dissertation focuses on one area of the University of Tartu Art Museum, namely the cast collections, their formation, development and use in the pedagogical and scientific spheres in the 19th century. Although from the historical perspective, the cast collection was established simultaneously with the university art museum’s collection of originals, researching only the cast collections enables us to study the casts as a specific form of the reception of ancient art in greater depth. The first aim of the dissertation was to determine which factors initiated the creation and development of Tartu’s cast collection. For this purpose, the cast collection has been placed into the historical, ideological and academic contexts of Europe and Estonia. The other main research question related to the reception of this cast collection in academic teaching and scientific research. When collecting casts at the university’s art museum started at the beginning of the 19th century, however, in terms of contemporary Europe, a very new ready-made model was thus adopted. In a process that lasted more than a century, we can differentiate three stages affected by different paradigms: in the first half of the century, the museum was guided by a universal period affected by the ideas of the Enlightenment and Freemasonry, when besides ancient art and casts various art forms were collected. In the middle of the 19th century, the perfectionist period began when a specialisation in ancient art came about, including the collection of sculpture casts. After this phase, the museum had an art collection that was typical of universities. We can call the third phase the systemising stage where, in addition to collecting, publishing the collections also became a priority. The historical-political and social situations of the 19th century made the continuous growth of Tartu’s cast collection possible: the period 1803–1914 was a time without external aggressive interruptions or wars that made it possible directly to increase, arrange and use the collection according to trends, visions and abilities. The cast collection was already used in teaching in the first years after the museum’s founding. On the basis of the materials that have been preserved and found, it has to be stated that idea was relatively new and idealistic in the whole German cultural space, and the practical application of the idea on his course did not go very smoothly. In comparison to using Tartu’s cast collection in teaching, its role in scientific research was even smaller, however.