Warburg Insti­tute Archive, GC, Richard Kraut­heimer to Fritz Saxl, 13 May, 1946, fol. 2



1.  Aim and Purpose. The trend of revi­ving Renais­sance studies in recent years has tended towards a more thorough and more specific under­stan­ding of the pheno­menon of the Renais­sance. Fore­most among the problems involved is the rela­tion of the Renais­sance to anti­quity and the inter­pre­ta­tion of anti­quity by the Renais­sance. The main obstacle in this discus­sion been the lack of specific infor­ma­tion regar­ding the antique mate­rial acces­sible to Renais­sance scho­lars and artists. Within the field of Art, we know next to nothing about the remnants of anti­quity known and studied by the 15th and 16th centu­ries. To over­come this obstacle, an urgent preli­mi­nary task is the estab­lish­ment of a Census of Antique Works of Art Known to the Renais­sance. The Census would contain specific infor­ma­tion regar­ding works of anti­quity extant in the Renais­sance and used or referred to, either directly or indi­rectly, by Renais­sance artists and writers.

The value of such an under­ta­king would lie in clari­fying the history of early finds and collec­tions; the history of taste; the impact of anti­quity on Renais­sance art and art theory; and of the huma­nistic studies in general.

2.  Sources. Three types of sources refer­ring to or describing antique works of art extant in the Renais­sance are avail­able for such a Census.

a.  Literary sources of the Renais­sance (Invent­ories of collec­tions; travel descrip­tions: letters of huma­nists; writings on art and on anti­quity).
b.  Picto­rial sources of the Renais­sance
     i) repro­duc­tions of antique works (sket­ches; books; indi­vi­dual drawings; engra­vings).
     ii) works of art inspired or depen­dent on antique proto­types (pain­tings, sculp­ture, engra­vings, medals, etc.).
c.  Remnants of anti­quity having survived through the Middle Ages and Renais­sance to this date. (Collec­tions of sarco­phagi at Salerno; Florence; Pisa; Arles; sculp­ture at Rome.)

The explo­ita­tion of all these sources, care­fully checked and counter-checked, should give a clear picture of the works of anti­quity related to the Renaissance.

3.  Limi­ta­tions. The abundance of the mate­rial and, of the problems involved makes impe­ra­tive a modest begin­ning. It seems advi­s­able to limit the project for the time being to:

a.  The explo­ita­tion of source mate­rial already published;
b.  The period up to 1532, or possibly only up to 1490, that is to the Early and High Renais­sance, or else only to the Early Renais­sance,
c.  The Renais­sance in Italy;