Quatremere de Quincy and the instrumentality of the museum
In this paper I want to explore some of the ways in which art lost the capacity to embody knowledge in late eighteenth century France with particular reference to the writings of the art critic, archaeologist and academician, Antoine Quatremère de Quincy. During the revolutionary wars of the late-1790s, prime examples of classical sculpture and renaissance painting were plundered by Napoléon Bonaparte and put on show in what is now the Musée du Louvre, then simply known as the 'Muséum'. During this period, France saw itself as the cradle of liberty and, on the basis that 'the fruits of genius are the patrimony of liberty', it claimed the right to plunder the best art that Europe had to offer. 1 The Apollo Belvedere, the Laocoon, the Belvedere Torso, Raphael's Transfiguration, Domenichino's Last Communion of St. Jerome and Caravaggio's Deposition - were all freed from what one critic described as the 'gaze of servitude'.