Throughout the sequence of lectures/chapters in Art and Illusion, Gombrich reiterates that his is the stance of the historian, but it becomes very clear that his historiography is neither simplistic nor neutral. He is at odds with those philosophers (most notably Plato) who have derided the reality of the image and with those (most notably Aristotle) who have affirmed that art imitates nature. Of special worth to him from late classical antiquity is the often-neglected Philostratus, who within his life of Apollonius of Tyana provided a critique of mimesis (imitation) that gives an account of what Gombrich calls “the beholder’s share in the reading of the artist’s image.” Gombrich follows the history of thought through the centuries and divergent cultures against whose background and in whose context specific artistic creations are to be placed.
It is no surprise that Gombrich’s In Searth of Cultural History (1969), like Art and Illusion, is neither an outline of history nor a program for history. The former is a history of the failure to achieve a cultural history. After the matter of setting out “the term and the thing,” though avoiding “further ’notes toward the definition of culture,”’ Gombrich came to a denunciation of “the Hegelian system,” “Burckhardt’s Hegelianism,” and “Hegelianism without metaphysics,” phrases which he applied to Heinrich Wolfflin, Karl Lamprecht, Wilhelm Dilthey,...
(The entire section is 1935 words.)
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