ANN: Lecture – “Stepping onto the Pedestal: An Animating History of Restitution from the Napoleonic Wars“ by Alice Goff (American Academy in Berlin / online, 17 May 2021, 19:30 CET)

The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese, 1563, plundered by Napoleon’s troops from the church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice in 1797

Stepping onto the Pedestal: An Animating History of Art Restitution from the Napoleonic Wars

Online event
All registered guests will receive participation instructions one to two days prior to the event.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, German intellectuals argued that the fine arts had a transcendent power to cultivate free political subjects with shared moral values. This idea was dramatically altered by the reality of cultural looting during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), which, Alice Goff argues, “made works of art come alive in a new way.” In this talk, Goff focuses specifically on the ad hoc and partial efforts by German cultural administrators and custodians of art collections to restitute art objects to Germany from France after 1814-15. Her assessment offers a novel view of the contradictions within nineteenth-century Prussia’s liberal cultural politics—and the consequences for our own understanding of restitution and museology in Germany today.

Alice Goff is an assistant professor of German history at the University of Chicago. At the American Academy in Berlin, she is exploring the idea that a work of art can create modern liberal society.

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