The Ancient Art of Emulation

Studies in Artistic Originality and Tradition from the Present to Classical Antiquity
Elaine K. Gazda, Editor
Are copies of Greek and Roman masterpieces as important as the originals they imitate?


All too often, museums throughout the world label their Roman sculpture and wall paintings as "Roman copy after a Greek original." In this book, Elaine K. Gazda and the contributors question the often too simplistic, deeply ingrained thinking that underlies this view of the relationship between Greek and Roman art.

Examining the problems associated with such thinking by situating them within a broad chronological framework, The Ancient Art of Emulation calls attention to many of the sources underlying traditional ingrained prejudices. The essays in this book underscore the need, in the case of Roman art, to distinguish more clearly than we have done in the past what "originality"---or invention---meant to the Romans, and how those notions differ from what our Romanticist/modernist expectations have led us to expect in the present.

This book builds upon revisionist scholarship of the past three decades, which redefines a number of the terms of discussion of "Roman copies" by reclassifying many of them as neoclassical or idealizing works and treating them as legitimate expressions of Roman cultural concerns. The contributors extend that line of inquiry by considering recent discourse on copying and originality as well as on related issues such as imitation, artistic agency, influence, appropriation, and authenticity. The chapters are presented in an unorthodox reverse chronological sequence in order to emphasize how thought and tastes of recent centuries have conditioned our views of the classical past and how "the Roman copy" must be seen as an artificial construct, the product of modern prejudices and their intellectual sources.

The Ancient Art of Emulation will appeal to a broad range of intellectual interests and humanistic disciplines. In addition to classical archaeologists and historians of ancient art, it will speak to art historians of later periods, practicing artists, and art critics, as well as scholars and students who have an interest in the phenomenon of artistic imitation.

Elaine K. Gazda is Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology, Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan; and Curator of Hellenistic and Roman Antiquities, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . this book does give an entirely new answer to the problem of copying. Each study is to be commended for its knowledge and scholarship and some of the most famous antique statues are presented in a new light. The conclusions are always interesting . . . ."
    —Mary-Anne Zagdoun, CNRS, Paris, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, January 31, 2003

Product Details

  • 8-1/2 x 11.
  • 320pp.
  • 3 drawings, 120 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11189-3

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  • $104.95 U.S.