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Alessandro Conti

(b Venice, April 25, 1859; d Rome, July 10, 1925).

Italian archaeologist. He was educated in Venice at a time when there was great controversy over the conservation of original works of art, especially in connection with the restorations (1875) in S Marco. In 1888 he moved to Rome, where he became an inspector of monuments and advocated the establishment of a photographic archive and a catalogue of monuments as a basis for restoration programmes. Having collaborated on excavations inside the Pantheon in 1892, from 1895 he superintended new excavations in the Forum Romanum (see Rome, §V, 1); the latter uncovered fundamental evidence concerning the origins of Rome, including the Lapis Niger (1st century bc; in situ), an archaic Latin inscription (c. 500 bc; Corpus inscriptionum latinarum, Academia Litterarum Borussicae, Berlin, 1863–, vi, 36840) and ‘pre-Romulan’ burial grounds. He was influenced by John Ruskin’s philosophy of art and argued that the prime function of restoration is to preserve original materials. In ...