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A brief historiography of Parthian art, from Winckelmann to Rostovtzeff

Colburn, Henry P. (2023) A brief historiography of Parthian art, from Winckelmann to Rostovtzeff. Journal of Art Historiography (28). ISSN 2042-4752

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URL of Published Version: https://arthistoriography.wordpress.com/28-jun23/

Identification Number/DOI: https://doi.org/10.48352/uobxjah.00004263


The early history of the study of Parthian art may be profitably divided into three overlapping phases. The first phase, ‘Ordering’, begins with Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s dismissive assessment of Parthian art, at this point known mainly from coins, as derivative and barbaric. The second phase, ‘Exploration’, begins in the mid-nineteenth century with the advent of archaeological excavation in Mesopotamia and the documentation of rock reliefs and architectural remains in Persia by travellers such as Flandin and Coste. The third phase, ‘Grand Narratives’, occurs primarily in the 1930s, when the first major efforts to synthesize Parthian art were undertaken by Arthur Upham Pope, Ernst Herzfeld, Neilson Debevoise and Michael Rostovtzeff. While Pope and Herzfeld treated Parthian art as a nadir between the Achaemenid and Sasanian Empires, a view adopted in many subsequent studies, Debevoise and Rostovtzeff considered it to be a vibrant and original phenomenon.

Type of Work:Article
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
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This article is archived in ePapers for preservation purposes

Date:June 2023
Keywords:Parthian, Arsacid, Iran, Persia, Mesopotamia, ancient, archaeology
Subjects:N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Copyright Status:Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. Authors may subsequently archive and publish the pdfs as produced by the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. Copyright restrictions apply to the use of any images contained within the articles. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
ID Code:4263
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