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Finding aid for the Society of Dilettanti drawings, prints, and letters, 1806-1880
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A collection reflecting the publishing work of the Society of Dilettanti, an English group that promoted the study of ancient sculpture and architecture, primarily that of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean. Drawings and printed proofs relate to three of the Society's major publications: Specimens of Antient [sic] Sculpture, Aegyptian, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman; Antiquities of Ionia; and Unedited antiquities of Attica.
The Society of Dilettanti was founded by Sir Francis Dashwood and other collectors in 1734. Formally organized as a London dining club, at least in terms of its bylaws, dues, etc., it consisted of young patricians recruited from acquaintances made on the Grand Tour, among the members were aristocrats, diplomats, courtiers, and men of the church, arts, and letters. With the mission of convival social exchange and cultivating the public interest in classical antiquity, the group aimed to correct and purify the public taste of the country. From the 1740s it began to support Italian opera, and from the 1750s it was the prime mover in establishing the Royal Academy. The most important role that the Society played in the cultural life of England is the contribution it made to the neo-classical movement by fostering an interest in the remains of classical antiquity. The society sponsored expeditions to Italy, Asia Minor, and Greece and published magnificent folio volumes such as the Specimens of Antient [sic] Sculpture, Antiquities of Ionia, and Unedited antiquities of Attica.
28.64 linear feet (14 boxes)
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