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Home Indice e rubriche Chirurgia della creazione. Mano e arti visive The invisible hand. Distant touch and aesthetic feelings in the late 18th century

The invisible hand. Distant touch and aesthetic feelings in the late 18th century

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by Hans Körner


ABSTRACT: «The eye is only the initial guide, the reason of the hand; the hand alone reveals the forms of things, their concepts, what they mean, what dwells therein» (Herder). Even so Herder’s own perception of sculpture was rather the touching «looking at» than the real tactile appropriation of art. Tactile perception in the aesthetics of the 18th century means first of all the perception with the invisible hand of the eye.



I. Touching with the Eye

Between 1768 and 1770 Johann Gottfried Herder wrote the major part of the text which he gave to print in 1778 under the title Sculpture: some observations on shape and form from Pygmalion's creative dream. Herder's essay celebrates the touch as the only appropriate means of experiencing a plastic work of art.

The eye is only the initial guide, the reason of the hand; the hand alone reveals the forms of things, their concepts, what they mean, what dwells therein[1]

For Herder, the tactile sensation defines the genre of sculpture and it is, as he derives from the old artistic tradition (Petrarca/Paragone), the proof of its veracity[2]. The art of painting is the art for the eye, however the eye only experiences the appearance of things, only through the tactile sensation is one in the position to ascertain himself in the reality of vision: «Sight gives us dreams, touch gives us truth»[3].

In 1774 a new edition of Jean-Baptiste de La Salle's educational book Les Régles de la bienséance et de la civilité chrétienne came out, the book which first appeared in 1716 and which speaks of children's bad manner of touching everything, a trait against which a pedagogue was supposed to act:

The children love reaching out with their hands to clothes and everything which they like. It is necessary to correct this craving and educate them to touch upon everything what they see with the eye only[4].

Is it possible to establish a correlation between Herder's aesthetics of the touch and La Salle's educational advice? At the first glance this seems impossible. La Salle wanted to get the children out of the bad habit of exploring the world through their hands. Herder wanted to establish the tactile perception in its right at the level of a reflecting art observer. These are two very different concepts, which however correlate in the fact that they both consider the possibility of delegating the sense of tactile perception to eye perception. La Salle did not only expressly forbid, but actually made a persuasive case for substitution of the hand touch with a touch by “the invisible hand” of the eye. As quoted, children should «touch upon everything (…) with the eye only». That was the point that the educator was making, this elevation of the tactile perception to the equally touching visual perception.




If one is to take a closer look at Herder's Plastik, one understands that for Herder as well the call for ascertaining oneself of the plastic form via the feeling hand means rather the touching “looking at” in the sense of La Salle's pedagogical concept[5]. Supposedly Herder only arrived at the Italian soil in 1788. Someone who had not visited Rome, Florence or Naples had to rely on engravings, on plaster casts or on copies in their perception of the antique sculpture. The latter are to be found in great numbers in the palace park of Versailles. In 1769, in front of the antique copies by grantees of the French Academy in Rome brought down to Versailles Herder noted down his ideas which would find later reference in his Plastik. The principal idea is already there, that sculptures are objects of tactile perception.

A statue must live: its flesh must come to life, its face and expression must speak. We must believe that we touch it and feel that it warms under our hands[6].

This is a literary reflection of the experience, which could happen to Herder's feeling hands in the park of Versailles. The antique copies in the park of the Versailles Palace, in front of which Herder arrived at his principal insights, stand on pedestals way too high for Herders' hands to possibly reach them. Exactly for this reason Herder only required that we should «believe (we) touch» the sculptures.

The blind sculptor was an exception for Herder, inasmuch as the blind art recipient, although his own weak sight must have led him to take this stance. Herder's Plastik is a paper for the sighted. Herder's haptic access to sculpture is in the final analysis a visual one[7]. It had to be that way. The heightening of desire, which is focused on the fine work of art, inevitably also relates to the delay and postponement of the concrete tactile perception, exactly because it does not just present a beautiful body in the two-dimensional projection, but actually is a fine body image.

It is not the cold marble which keeps the craving hand at a distance and relegates the touch to imagination. Much more so, the statue says to the contrary that the distance is a condition of craving[8].

Herder summarised the adequate access to the sculpture in the following words:

Consider the lover of art sunk deep in contemplation who circles restlessly around a sculpture. What would he not do to transform his sight into touch, to make his seeing into a form of touching that feels in the dark? For this reason, he shifts from place to place: his eye becomes his hand and the ray of light his finger[9].


The art lover turns in the process of looking at into a blind and feeling one.

 Yet, the touching look does not only mean surrogate for the impossible or unseemly actual touch. In the incomplete Letters from the Düsseldorf Art Gallery by Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse published in the two years preceding publication of Herder's Plastik only a few were granted the faculty «(to) transform a most fine sight perception into a meaningful emotion». Only the «few of the lively imagination and unquiet heart» could «be possessed as if by reality» by the work of art due to this transformation[10]. The observed distance of the touching look turns into the proximity of as it was active work of art. Hence Herder specified this “possession” into «being possessed» by the work of art in the act of aesthetic worship,

A sculpture before which I kneel can embrace me, it can become my friend and companion: it is present, it is there[11].

Having risen to the preferred organ of aesthetic experience of the plastic art the hand is already withdrawing from the work of art. Turning the «ray of light» into a «finger» is a successful strategy of completely banning the tactile perception from the art experience, precisely because seeing is no longer understood as competition to touching. The ability to experience contained in the tactile perception folds into eye sight. This is a type of sublimating, yet «aufzuheben» (in the Hegelian sense) the claim of immediacy and veracity of the tactile perception and so rescinding it on the one hand and on the other hand raising it to the level of seeing could claim the immediacy of the sense of touch for the sight.


II. «Natural» «Understanding of Art»

Pictures which tell us of the appreciation of plastic art can help us to reconstruct this new way of mediated-immediate, far-close, distanced-haptic art perception in its paradoxical strategy.

Paradigmatic manifestation of this distanced observation, reduced to the visual aesthetic perception is the illustration of the «natural understanding of art» which Daniel Chodowiecki polemically presented in contrast with «affected» understanding of art in his series of engravings Natural and Affected Ways of Life (Ill. 1)[12]. The «affected» viewers of a garden statue are characterised via theirvivid gesticulation, however vivacity is hardly a result of the immediate aesthetic experience but rather that of socially accepted gesticulation of experts, for whom the work of art is a subject of conversation and limits itself – at least following Chodowiecki's engraving – to this function[13]. The figurative alternative to this way of art perception favoured by Chodowiecki is breakdown of any possible communication – apart from the mutual accord of the souls – in favour of worship in front of the work. Vis-a-vis the two “natural” art lovers, who are portrayed motionless, speechless, each of them withdrawn and concentrated on the inner communication with the work, Werner Busch was reminiscent of the romantic «Rückenfigur»[14]. (Ill. 2) What first and foremost characterises the romantic «Rückenfigur», whose expressive qualities are exemplified in the work by Caspar David Friedrich, is the disturbing ambivalence of the lack of distance and the endlessly remote. Actually, this ambivalence already comprises the «natural» «art knowledge».

Chodowiecki's «affected» viewers are moving away from the work of art: one of them bows and turns to his companion, the latter in his turn is looking at the statue, yet in an exaggerated, actually «affected» manner he is bending his body backwards. In contrast to them the «natural» art connoisseurs are very close to the statue in their intimate, spiritual dialogue, the distance to the work, which would be imposed through the quick-witted conversation and interrupt the perception of art, is dissolved. Exactly for this reason the distance to the work of art becomes bigger. The knees are pressed backwards, so that no sign of possible moving forward, towards the garden statue should arise. And arms and hands are tightly folded around the body. Only the spirited look of the both art lovers creates a connection to the statue, a connection which is internally devoid of distance and physically radically distanced at the same time. The fact that even clouds keep a definitely bigger distance to the statue than in its alternative sustains the impression of distance. Alternatively, for one of the «affected» art lovers a witty or expert remark about the art object, which he feels the urgent need to share with his companion, is more important than the object itself, and hence he turns away from the statue. However distanced this turn may be, the movement of the right hand pointing at the fruit skirt and touching the fruit skirt of the statue dissolves the distance to the art object.

Chodowiecki's figurative definition of the «affected» art viewing, related with that of Thomas Dundas in his portrait by Pompeo Batoni. The future Baron Dundas commissioned the portrait in Rome as a reminiscence of his Grand Tour (Ill. 3). The English tourist is wrapped in the famous Roman antiquities – Apollo of the Belvedere, Laocoon, Antinous and the niche figure of Ariadne in the Belvedere courtyard. Yet Thomas Dundas is turning away from the masterpieces and is looking outward. At the same time, similar to Chodowiecki's «affected» art lovers, who chat in an animated fashion, Dundas is (intrusively) stretching his arm at the Ariadne statue, is stepping on the base with his right foot and thus over the limits into the world of the work of art and on top of it, allows his dog to lap the fountain water.

During his altogether six tours of Italy Frederick Hervey experienced the antiqueAltar of Twelve Deities in the park of Villa Borghese in a very different way – should we trust the evidence of his 1790 portrait commissioned to Hugh Hamilton (Ill. 4)[15]. Frederick Hervey is leaning on a tree trunk, his legs crossed and his hands folded in front of his body, a casual, «natural» posture, however the one which keeps distance to the art object. It is the gaze of the old man that overcomes the distance. The fact that this gaze is focused on the work of art and yet remains withdrawn, is directed inside poses no contradiction. The touch with the “invisible hand” dissolving the distance takes place in his soul.

The touch is associated with a sentiment. Hervey's granddaughter Caroline is standing close to the antique piece, is laying her right palm on one of the relief figures in the lower register of the Altar and is thus extending and at the same time specifying her grandfather's “invisible hand”. The female figures of the relief touched by Caroline are interpreted as the Horae or personifications of the seasons[16]. Regardless of whether Hamilton preferred one or the other of the interpretations, the young Caroline is “feeling” her iconographic counterpart, an early Hour or spring. Yet her glance is directed towards her grandfather, inasmuch as the touch of the right hand's index finger, as if through establishing the corporeal contact with the personification of youth the girl wanted to let her grandfather partake of something of which he had been long and irreversibly deprived. Fully in line with Walter Benjamin's definition of the «aura» Frederick Hervey perceives the antique altar through his “invisible hand” and in a mediated way through his granddaughter's body «as a singular manifestation of remoteness however close it may seem to be»[17].


In one of Arnold Houbraken's chalk drawings (Ill. 5) the royal sculptor Pygmalion is bending down, is laying his left hand onto the stomach of his ivory creation and is obviously feeling its coming alive manifested through softening of the flesh[18]. In Falconet's marble group (Ill. 6) Galatea comes to life as well. Yet the sculptor is sinking onto his knee, is wringing his hands in surprise holding them close to his chest and is bending backward. Only his rapturous look is bringing him in intimate proximity to his statue and future spouse. However “only” in the previous sentence is comparative. Not only the gracious goddess, the Pygmalion's feeling look seems to bring the dead materia to life.

In a picture painted by Hugh Douglas Hamilton in 1788/89 (Ill. 7) the art expert Henry Trisham is contemplating Antonio Canova's group Amor and Psyche. Tresham's thoughtful look and the hands held close to the body characterise him as a “natural” art lover in Chodowiecki's understanding. Artists, on the contrary, necessarily have a close physical contact to their work. The sculptor Antonio Canova, who is on the one hand, separating and on the other hand, mediating the viewer Tresham and the figure group in the picture, is casually propping himself up against the statue base[19].

As soon as the artist reached out from the practical activities and their daily proximity to works of art to the theory (θεωρείν, theorein = to view, to watch) associated with the eye, the “invisible hand” came up as a concept which offers synthesis of the theory and practice.

In a letter of the sculptor Giraud to the art historian Emeric-David this synthesising concept is referred to in the context of a copy right controversy,

I completed an entire course with you in front of numerous antique statues, plaster casts of which I possess, where I let you partake of all my knowledge that I have gained from the method of the ancient. With the finger and if one may say so, with the eye

he had «allowed» Emeric-David to «touch the statues»[20], to impart him what constitutes the task of sculpture at its highest standard.

The letter exists in the context of a bitter copyright conflict. Emeric-David and Giraud jointly submitted a text for the competition announced by the Institut National de France («Quelles ont été les causes de la perfection de la sculpture antique et quels seroient les moyens d'y atteindre ? ») in 1797; the essay received the first prize, however when it went to print in 1805 Emeric-David operated as the only author, much to Giraud's chagrin[21]. Beyond the sphere of the personal vanity this conflict concerning the copyright to «Recherches sur l'art statuaire» is also a ranking conflict between the competences, a theoretical one and a practical one, grounded in one's own artistic activity. Inasmuch as Giraud described his way of imparting Emeric-David a manner of looking at antique sculptures with an as it were touching look, he emphasised an access which is both: theoretical and practical.


III. The Total Touch

Somebody who wants to observe art in the appropriate manner should, since the end of the 18th century, at least within this particular concept on the «natural understanding of art», assume the ambivalence of posture, the one which cancels the (mental) distance and increases the (bodily) distance to the work of art. The touching sight bridges the gap. The “invisible hand” of the viewer could then suggest the immediacy, which should bring the work of art even closer than it would ever be possible through a physical art perception.

Winckelmann, who contributed significantly to constructing the perception of beauty as equally distanced and dissolving distance, had found by far the most remarkable metaphor for this transformation of remoteness into proximity: A short Essay on the Capacity to Perceive Beauty in the Art published in 1763 characterises the aesthetic perception of Apollo of the Belvedere (Ill. 8):

The true feeling for beauty is like a fluid plaster that is being poured over the head of the Apollo and that touches and envelops it in every nook and cranny[22].

The imagined touch has become total. The plaster envelops the «head of Apollo» in its entirety, no place remains untouched[23]. No place of the work of art can withdraw from the “invisible hand”. However this total appropriation is at the same time a distanced one, delegated to and objectified through the material of plaster. The most possibly remote and immaterial (in the metaphor of the plaster material) and the closest possible and intense (in the metaphoric enclosing and enveloping of the figure) are dialectically interrelated. Winckelmann was aware of the explosive potential of this part of the text and hurriedly suppressed the incriminating thoughts:

The subject of this feeling is not in something praised by drive, friendship or complaisance, but what the innermost fine sense, which should be free from all intentions, should find for the beauty's sake[24].

Giorgio Vasari's description of Michelangelo's work process was corrected by Winckelmann – processing of marble blocks starting with the upper parts, whereas the artist oriented himself at emerging of his model from a water container, whilst the water, which initially fully covered the model, was gradually drained[25]. However it was not Winckelmann himself, but Herder who recognised in enveloping of a plastic model with water («which also lay itself on the most indiscernible places»)[26], a metaphor analogous to that of the «fluid plaster» around Apollo's head as a touch with the “invisible hand”. The

method of modelling used by Michelangelo and so praised by Winckelmann (is) nothing else but (…) of which we speak. Namely, 'that every shape and motion of the softly flowing and lapping water turns into a most tender finger for the eye’[27].

Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr commented rather sceptically on Diderot and Herder's belief in the faculties of a blind sculptor and on the capacity of aesthetic receptiveness of a blind viewer[28]. Yet Ramdohr agreed with Herder that «the look which examines the veracity of form in a truly round statue proceeds in the manner of a touching hand», for which purpose the sculptor shall mould «not only for the purely observing, but at the same time for the touching look»[29]. If the eye «touches by analogy»[30]it should

follow exactly the curves of the human body, it should eagerly rest on the separate parts (…), it should eagerly curve with the roundings[31].

Ramdohr did not hold back the fact that the touching sight may also strengthen an aesthetic experience which is not at all uninterested in the sense of Kant.

So we say that the breasts swell over voluptuously, that the clothes hug the body in a voluptuous manner and the hair voluptuously plays at the neck (…). Obviously here the eye replaces the hand[32].

Yet on the other hand, more than the totality of surface opens itself up to the “invisible hand” of the eye. In contrast to the physical touch the mental tactile perception reaches into the innermost, to the substantial. Exactly in this inclusion of the inner self did Justus Möser ground his method of the «human cognition»,

With all of these tools [of the human cognition] I touch the guy at once. My whole feeling flows around his form, and I cast him in such a way that I have him, the way he is standing there, inside and outside[33].


IV. Mesmer's Touch from Afar

Empedocles defined the senses as pagamai (palm / clutch). The appropriation of reality through smelling, hearing and sight thus takes place as it were through the touch[34].This concept, supported by the Aristotle theory of sense perception which however placed the tactile perception at the lowest rung of the hierarchy of senses, because it is common to all living beings, yet precisely because of this declared it the «foundation of all other senses»[35], was adjusted by Descartes in the 17th century. With a man who was born blind one can see how securely he moves with his walking stick, «One could say as it were that they see with their hands», wrote Descartes in his Discours de la méthode (1637)[36].

The illustration of a blind man with the crossed batons (Ill. 9-10) served Descartes as visualisation of measuring distance through the angle functions, though catchiness of the pictorial formula, among other things, also contributed to the idea that seeing is also a form of learning the reality through touch[37]. Jacques Delille's didactic poem L'Imagination (1806) summed up this tradition and celebrated the tactile perception as the

King of Senses (…). All [sense perceptions] are subject to this sublime master / or better to say, all senses are nothing more than the touch (…). The hearing, the smell, the taste and the sight,/ even they are a manner of touching, this most noble sense /is leading them when they are active, and it supplants them when they fail[38].

This old and culminating in the Enlightenment concept of the touching eye[39]provides the physiological foundation for the aesthetic perception of touching the art with an eye. In the last quarter of the 18th century yet another explanation for the phenomenon of the “invisible hand” was found, which promoted application of the theory of perception to the aesthetic theory.

Was it possible that the “invisible hand” was understood not entirely as a metaphor, because a fine fluid penetrates everything, which means that any distance is only a seeming one? If it were to be true then we have always touched people and objects in our environment and are touched by everything. An odd concept, a disturbing concept, because it is followed by the idea of an unprotected surrender of our body. Yet exactly this concept belonged to the most dominant ideas of the late 18th century. In 1778 Franz Anton Mesmer arrived in Paris and proclaimed his theory of a «universally spread fluid», which caused «interaction between celestial bodies, the earth and the living bodies» (Ill. 11)[40]. The fact that this fluid did not allow verification through observation was in no way a reason to disbelieve Mesmer's «animal magnetism». This held true specifically at the time when people discussed other fluids, such as gravity and electricity, which Mesmer himself called into play[41]as explanation of his theory, the fluids in question being neither more obvious nor more scientifically proven than the «animal magnetism»[42]. Gravity and electricity shared a fascinating and disturbing quality with the «animal magnetism» discovered by Mesmer to affect our bodies, to penetrate our bodies and also to touch them in an absolute way, without being seen in any way.

The state of health could turn for the better if through stroking of a hand obstruction of the fluid was released or the body would be charged with the overabundant fluid of the magnetizer. Still according to the law of influence a body can galvanise the other one without touching[43], thus one often believed that during the mesmeric treatment the expected effects would occur due to the pure will power, without bodily contact. For the mesmerists of Lyon mesmerising without touching the patient had become a real trademark[44]. Not least the frequent use of mirrors and in principle, the fondness of mirror halls for the mesmeric séances was supposed to prove that the transfer could happen with and without the bodily contact, however even the latter was supposed to be a touch, similar to the “touch” of water via the dowser. Through mirrors the sick people could reflect their fluid and improve their fluid balance[45]. Mesmer himself had to undergo a similar test: During his treatment of Baron Horecky de Horka, he staged an experiment suggested by the Baron's tutor, he was supposed to mesmerise a person separated from him by a wall. The tutor standing at the threshold observed that the subject of the experiment reacted to hand and finger movements of Mesmer, who was placed in the other room, in a way as if he had been actually touched by him[46].

The touch from afar, as it is practised and actually perceived in mesmerism is the counterpart to the aesthetic perception, which in a similar way dialectically imparts the remoteness and the “touching” closeness of the work of art. Mesmer and his disciples had definitely contributed to the art perception of the modern times, in its basic underlying paradox of the immediate-distanced access to the object of art. Vice versa one could venture to consider whether the intensive experience of a touch from afar conducted through mesmeric experiments, on its part, did not owe to the repercussion of the touching sight as already proven in the art, because since the beginnings of classicism the feeling eye has reached farther than Descartes' walking sticks.




1. Chodowiecki, Daniel, Kunst-Kenntnis (Chodowiecki, Daniel, "Natürliche u. affectierte Handlungen des Lebens", 1779), No 7, 8, Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett

2. Friedrich, Caspar David, Woman in the morning sun, about 1808, Essen, Museum Folkwang

3. Batoni, Pompeo, Portrait of Thomas Dundas, 1764, Coll. The Marquess of Zettland

4. Hamilton, Hugh Douglas, Frederick Hervey and his grand-daughter Caroline Crichton, about 1790-93, Dublin, The National Gallery of Ireland

5. Houbraken, Arnold, Pygmalion, München, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung

6. Falconet, Étienne-Maurice, Pygmalion and Galatea, 1763, Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery

7. Hamilton, Hugh Douglas, Antonio Canova and Henry Tresham before the plaster modell of "Amor and Psyche", about 1788-89, Coll. Francis Farmar

8. Randon, C., Apollo Belvedere (Domenico de Rossi, Raccolta di statue antiche e moderne…, Roma 1704)

9. Descartes, René, Discours de la méthode, Leiden 1637, Illustration p. 56

10. Descartes, René, Discours de la méthode, Paris 1724, Illustration

11. Franz Anton Mesmer


English translation: Elena Cherniavska

[1]«Das Auge ist nur Wegweiser, nur die Vernunft der Hand; die Hand allein gibt Formen, Begriffe dessen, was sie bedeuten, was in ihnen wohnet». J.G. Herder, Plastik. Einige Wahrnehmungen über Form und Gestalt aus Pygmalions bildendem Traume, in Id., Sämmtliche Werke, ed. B. Suphan, VIII, Berlin 1892, p. 39. Engl. translation: J.G. Herder, Sculpture: some observations on shape and form from Pygmalion's creative dream, edited and translated by J. Gaiger, Chicago 2002, p. 64.

[2]See H. Körner, Paragone der Sinne. Der Vergleich von Malerei und Skulptur im Zeitalter der Aufklärung, in Mehr Licht. Europa um 1770. Die bildende Kunst der Aufklärung, Katalog der Ausstellung, Frankfurt 1999/2000, München 1999, p. 365.

[3]«Im Gesicht ist Traum, im Gefühl Wahrheit». Herder, Plastik, cit., p. 9 (Herder, Sculpture, cit. p. 38).

[4]«Les enfants aiment à porter la main sur les habits et les autres choses, qui leur plaisent; il faut corriger en eux cette démangeaison, et leur apprendre à ne toucher que des yeux tout ce qu'ils voient». J.-B. de La Salle, Les Règles de la bienséance et de la civilté chrétienne (1716), Paris 1774. Quoted in: N. Elias, Über den Prozeß der Zivilisation. Soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen, I: Wandlungen des Verhaltens in den weltlichen Oberschichten des Abendlandes, (1936), Frankfurt 1995, p. 280.

[5]To the following see: Körner, Paragone, cit., p. 376.

[6]«Eine Statue muß leben: ihr Fleisch muß sich beleben: Ihr Gesicht und Miene sprechen. Wir müssen sie anzutasten glauben und fühlen, daß sie sich unter unseren Händen erwärmt». J.G. Herder, Von der Bildhauerkunst fürs Gefühl, (1769), in Id., Sämmtliche Werke, VIII, cit., p. 88. Engl. Translation: Herder, Sculpture, cit. p. 25.

[7]A. Koschorke, Pygmalion als Kastrat – Grenzwertlogik der Mimesis, in M. Mayer, G. Neumann, Pygmalion. Die Geschichte des Mythos in der abendländischen Kultur, Freiburg i. Br. 1997, p. 308-311; I. Mülder-Bach, Im Zeichen Pygmalions. Das Modell der Statue und die Entdeckung der "Darstellung" im 18. Jahrhundert, München 1998, p. 99.

[8]Mülder-Bach, Im Zeichen, cit., p. 76.

[9]«Seht jenen Liebhaber, der tiefgesenkt um die Bildsäule wanket. Was thut er nicht, um sein Gesicht zum Gefühl zu machen, zu schauen als ob er im Dunkeln taste? Er gleitet umher, sucht Ruhe und findet keine, hat keinen Gesichtspunkt, wie beim Gemälde (…). Darum gleitet er: sein Auge ward Hand, der Lichtstrahl Finger (…)». Herder, Plastik, cit., p. 12f. (Herder, Sculpture, cit., p. 41).

[10]«(…) den überaus feinen Augensinn in Gefühlssinn (zu) verwandeln / (…) wenige von so lebendiger Phantasie und unruhigem Herzen (…) / wie von wirklicher Gegenwart ergriffen werden». J.J.W. Heinse, Briefe aus der Düsseldorfer Gemäldegalerie, (1776-1777), ed. A. Winkler, Leipzig-Wien 1914, p. 114.

[11]«Eine Bildsäule kann mich umfassen, daß ich vor ihr knie, ihr Freund und Gespiele werde, sie ist gegenwärtig, sie ist da». Herder, Plastik, cit., p. 17 (Herder, Sculpture, cit., p. 45).

[12]The following repeats H. Körner, Der fünfte Bruder. Zur Tastwahrnehmung plastischer Bildwerke von der Renaissance bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert, in «Artibus et historiae. An art anthology», 4, XXI, 2000, p. 176f.

[13]W. Busch, Das sentimentalische Bild. Die Krise der Kunst im 18. Jahrhundert und die Geburt der Moderne, München 1993, p. 325f.

[14]Busch, Das sentimentalische Bild, cit., p. 326.

[15]The following corresponds to Körner, Der fünfte Bruder, cit. p. 177f.

[16]A. Wilton, I. Bignamini (edd.), Grand Tour. The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century, Catalogue of the Exhibition, London 1996, London 1996, p. 59.

[17]W. Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, Frankfurt 1973, p. 18.

[18]See H. Friedel (ed.), Pygmalions Werkstatt. Die Erschaffung des Menschen im Atelier von der Renaissance bis zum Surrealismus, Catalogue of the Exhibition, München 2001, Köln 2001, p. 200.

[19]On Hamilton's picture see Wilton, Bignamini, Grand Tour, cit., p. 72.

[20]«Je vous fis faire, sur les nombreuses statues antiques dont je possède les plâtres, un cours complet de toutes les notions que j'ai acquises de la méthodes des anciens. Je vous fis toucher du doigt et à l'œil si l'on peut dire (…)». Quoted in P. Griener, The Function of Beauty. The Philosophes and the Social Dimension of Art in Late Eighteenth Century France with Particular Regard to Sculpture, Oxford1989, p. 311.

[21]On the conflict between Emeric-David and Giraud: Griener, The Function of Beauty, cit., p. 307ff.

[22]«Das wahre Gefühl des Schönen gleichet einem flüßigen Gipse, welcher über den Kopf des Apollo gegossen wird, und denselben in allen Teilen berühret und umgiebt». J.J. Winckelmann, Abhandlung von der Fähigkeit der Empfindung des Schönen in der Kunst (…), Dresden 1763, p. 9. Engl. Translation in: C. MacLeod, Embodying Ambiguity: androgyny and aesthetics from Winckelmann to Keller, Detroit 1998, p. 38.

[23]On possible correlation of this text and reproduction graphic of the 18th century: E. Rebel, Nachahmung zwischen Authentizität und Wahrheit, in Empfindung und Reflexion. Ein Problem des 18. Jahrhunderts, Münchner Beiträge zur Geschichte und Theorie der Künste, edd. H. Körner, C. Peres, R. Steiner, L. Tavernier), Hildesheim-Zürich-New York 1986, pp. 305-331, p. 322ff.

[24]«Der Vorwurf dieses Gefühls ist nicht, was Trieb, Freundschaft und Gefälligkeit anpreißen, sondern was der innere feinere Sinn, welcher von allen Absichten geläutert seyn soll, um des Schönen willen selbst, empfindet». Winckelmann, Abhandlung von der Fähigkeit, cit., p. 9.

[25]J.J. Winckelmann, Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst, (1755), in Id., Sämtliche Werke, ed. J. Eiselein, I, Donaueschingen 1825, p. 43ff. Winckelmann's correction relies on his erroneous reading of Vasari. See R. Kanz, Körpergebärde und Statuarik in der Skulptur des 18. Jahrhunderts, in R. Kanz, H. Körner (edd.), Pygmalions Aufklärung. Europäische Skulptur im 18. Jahrhundert, München-Berlin 2006, p. 266.

[26]«welches sich auch an die unmerklichsten Theile legete». Winckelmann, Gedanken über die Nachahmung, cit., p. 46.

[27]Die «Methode zu modellieren, die Michelangelo gebrauchte und Winckelmann so sehr rühmet (sei) nichts als das (…), wovon wir reden. Nämlich ‘das jeder Form und Bewegung sich sanft anschleichende und anplätschernde Wasser wird dem Auge der zarteste Finger’». Herder, Plastik, cit., p. 72. Amazingly these parts of the text are not referred to by G. Didi-Huberman, Ähnlichkeit und Berührung. Archäologie, Anachronismus und Modernität des Abdrucks, (1997), Köln 1999), whereas they are of high significance to the interrelation between the cast and touch which has been explored by Didi-Huberman.

[28]F.W.B. von Ramdohr, Charis oder Ueber das Schöne und die Schönheit in den nachbildenden Künsten, II, Leipzig 1793, p. 220ff.;F.W.B. von Ramdohr, Ueber Mahlerei und Bildhauerarbeit in Rom für Liebhaber des Schönen in der Kunst, III, (1787), Leipzig 1798, p. 199f.

[29](D)ass «der Blick, der die Wahrheit der Form an der wirklich runden Statue untersucht, nach Art der betastenden Hand verfährt (…) / „nicht für den bloß anschauenden, sondern zugleich für den betastenden Blick». von Ramdohr, Ueber Mahlerei, cit., p. 200.

[30]«analogisch betastet». Ibidem.

[31]«sich genau dem Umrisse des menschlichen Körpers hinschlängeln; es muß gern an der Anordnung der einzelnen Theile im Aufriß verweilen; es muß sich gern mit der Ründung herumbiegen». F.W.B von Ramdohr, Charis oder Ueber das Schöne und die Schönheit in den nachbildenden Künsten, I, Leipzig 1793, p. 223.

[32]«So sagen wir: daß der Busen wollüstig überschweppert, daß das Gewand wollüstig den Körper umflattert, daß das Haar wollüstig um den Nacken spielet (…). Augenscheinlich setzt sich hier das Auge an die Stelle der Hand». von Ramdohr, Charis, I, cit., p. 238.

[33]«Mit allen diesen Werkzeugen [der Menschenerkenntniß] berühre ich den Kerl auf einmal. Mein ganzes Gefühl fließt um seine Form, und ich drücke ihn damit so ab, daß ich ihn habe, wie er da steht, von innen und von außen». J. Möser, Patriotische Phantasien, hg. von seiner Tochter, J. W. J. von Voigts, geb. Möser, III, n.e. Berlin 1842, p. 12. See F. Bulle, Franziskus Hemsterhuis und der deutsche Irrationalismus des 18. Jahrhunderts, Jena 1911, p. 77.

[34]R. Jütte, Geschichte der Sinne. Von der Antike bis zum Cyberspace, München 2000, p. 42.

[35]Aristoteles, Von der Seele, in Aristoteles,Vom Himmel. Von der Seele. Von der Dichtkunst, ed. O. Gigon, (1950), München 1983, p. 288ff. See D. Summers, The Judgement of Sense. Renaissance Naturalism and the Rise of Aesthetics, Cambridge 1987, p. 103; Jütte, Geschichte, cit., p. 53, H. Körner, Schmerz – Lust – Erkenntnis. Auguste Clésingers «Femme piquée par un serpent»  und Gustave Courbets «Femme au perroquet»als Allegorien des Tastsinns, in A. Gottdang, R. Wohlfarth (edd.), Mit allen Sinnen. Sehen, Hören, Schmecken, Riechen und Fühlen in der Kunst, Leipzig 2010, p. 85ff.

[36]« (…) qu’on pourroit quasi dire qu’ils voient des mains». Quoted in: P. Bexte, Blinde Seher. Die Wahrnehmung von Wahrnehmung in der Kunst des 17. Jahrhunderts. Mit einem Anhang zur Entdeckung des blinden Flecks im Jahre 1668, Dresden 1999, p. 99.

[37]Bexte, Blinde Seher, cit., p. 111ff. See J. Crary, Techniken des Betrachters. Sehen und Moderne im 19. Jahrhundert, (1990), Dresden 1996, p. 67ff.

[38]«Le toucher roi des sens (…). Tous sont assujettis à ce maître suprème, / Ou plutôt tous les sens sont le toucher lui-même. (…). La puissance du tact est par-tout répandue; / L'ouïe, et l'odorat, et le goût, et la vue. / Sont encore le toucher, le plus noble des sens: / Présents, il les dirige, et les remplace absents». J. Delille, L'Imagination. Poëme en huit chants, (1806-1813), in J. Delille, Oeuvres, 8: L'Imagination, I, Paris 1824, p. 44.

[39]An overview of the concept of an 'Oeil tactile' in the French Enlightenment is provided by B. Saint Girons, Esthétiques du XVIIIe siècle. Le modèle français, Paris 1990, p. 186ff.

[40]«Un fluide universellement répandu (…)». «Il existe une influence mutuelle entre les corps célestes, la terre et les corps animés». F.A. Mesmer, Mémoire sur la découverte du magnétisme animal, Genf 1779. Quoted in R. Darnton, Der Mesmerismus und das Ende der Aufklärung in Frankreich, (1968), München-Wien 1983, p. 177.

[41]See G. Müller, Modelle der Literarisierung des Mesmerismus. Mesmers Versuche, das Unbekannte zu erklären, in G. Wolters (ed.), Franz Anton Mesmer und der Mesmerismus. Wissenschaft, Scharlatanerie, Poesie, Konstanz 1988, p. 71.

[42]Darnton, Mesmerismus, cit., p.23.

[43]On popular dissemination of the electrical influence in the French 18th century see A. Kleinert, Die allgemeinverständlichen Physikbücher der französischen Aufklärung, Aarau 1974, p. 69ff.

[44]Darnton, Mesmerismus, cit., p.67.

[45]H. Schott, Die «Strahlen»des Unbewußten – von Mesmer zu Freud, in Wolters (ed.), Franz Anton Mesmer, cit., p. 59.

[46]Reported by Justinus Kerner. See E. Bauer, Spiritismus und Okkultismus, in Okkultismus und Avantgarde. Von Munch bis Mondrian 1900-1915, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Frankfurt 1995, ed. V. Loers, Ostfildern 1995, p. 63.

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