However much Winckelmann appears, even here, to be upon the right path; however many delightful, fundamental passages these writings contain, however correctly the final aim of art is already defined in them, they are nevertheless, both as regards form and subject, so baroque and curious, that one would in vain seek their meaning, unless he had definite information concerning the personality of the connoisseurs and judges of art at that time assembled in Saxony, and concerning their abilities, opinions, inclinations and whims. These writings will therefore remain a sealed book to posterity, unless well informed connoisseurs of art, who lived nearer those times, should soon decide either to write or cause to be written a description of the then existing conditions, in so far as this is still possible. Lippert, Hagedorn, Oeser, Dietrich, Heinecken and Oesterreich loved, practised and promoted art, each in his own way. Their purposes were restricted, their maxims were one-sided, yea, very often, freakish. They circulated stories and anecdotes, the varied application of which was intended not only to entertain but also to instruct society. From such elements arose the earliest treatises of Winckelmann, which he himself very soon found unsatisfactory, as indeed he did not conceal from his friends.
Although not sufficiently prepared, yet with some practical experience, he at length began his journey, and reached that country where for the receptive mind the time of real culture begins—that culture which permeates the entire being, and finds expression in creations which must be as real as they are harmonious, because they have, as a matter of fact, proved powerful as a firm bond of union between most different natures.
Winckelmann was at last in Rome, and who could be worthier to feel the influence which that great privilege is able to produce upon a truly perceptive nature! He sees his wish fulfilled, his happiness established, his hopes more than satisfied. His ideals stand embodied about him. He wanders astonished through the ruins of a gigantic age, the greatest that art has produced, under the open sky; freely he lifts his eyes to these wonderful works as to the stars of the firmament, and every locked treasure is opened for a small gift. Like a pilgrim, the newcomer creeps about unobserved; he approaches the most sublime and holy treasures in an unseemly garment. As yet he permits no detail to distract him, the whole affects him with endless variety, and he already feels the harmony which finally must arise for him out of these infinitely diversified elements. He gazes upon, he examines everything, and to make his happiness complete, he is taken for an artist, as every one in his heart would gladly be.
In lieu of further observations, we submit to our readers the overpowering influence of the situation, as a friend has clearly and sympathetically described it.