2024-01Thematic Section
Agalmatophilic Pygmalions: Burke and Winckelmann on the Beautiful and the Sublime


There is a good chance that “each critic becomes a Pygmalion” (as Leo Curran put it) when they bring the work of art to life in their narcissistic (and almost amorous) attention, unfolding its meaning so that they should be able to write their own interpretation. The starting point of the present text is the perfection of sculptural forms, and the author discusses “traditional” aesthetic concepts: the beautiful and the sublime along with the difference and interplay of the two qualities, bearing in mind their variations and relations. The framework is provided by the occurrence of these two in the discourses on the self and taste in the eighteenth-century while the focus is on subjective criticism concerning the beautiful versus the sublime in the artistic and sensual experience of statues. Within the given framework, the author is planning to force Edmund Burke, stiffened by the experience of the sublime, and Winckelmann, softened by the sight of the Greek statues, into a dialogue on individual taste.


self, sublime, beautiful, sexes, statues, Burke, Winckelmann

How to cite:

Antal, Éva. “Agalmatophilic Pygmalions: Burke and Winckelmann on the Beautiful and the Sublime.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 8, no. 1 (2024):  39-68. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2024.0003.


Éva Antal
Eszterházy Károly Catholic University,
HU-3300 Eger, Eszterházy tér 1, Hungary


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