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Visconti, G. B.

    Full Name: Visconti, G. B.

    Other Names:

    • G. B. Visconti

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1722

    Date Died: 1784

    Place Born: Vernazza, La Spezia, Liguria, Italy

    Place Died: Rome, Lazio, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Italy

    Subject Area(s): catalogues raisonnés and Classical


    Classical art historian, administrator; developer of the illustrated museum catalog. Visconti was born to a scholarly family. At 14 he moved to Rome where he met Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Visconti succeeded Winckelmann at his death in 1768 as Commissioner of Antiquities. Pope Clement XIV and particularly Giovanni Angelo Braschi, the papal treasurer, encouraged him in founding the Vatican Museo Clementino in 1770. When Braschi succeeded Clement as Pius VI, Braschi through Visconti expanded the museum, renaming it as the Museo Pio-Clementino. Through Visconti, Braschi authorized acquisitons, excavations, and installations for the new museum, building on the burgeoning antiquities discovery and marketing in Rome. Visconti purchased important pieces from the Mattei, Barberini, Verospi, Altemps and other collections, as much to keep them in Rome as aNew York Timeshing. Visconti published an illustrated catalog of the collections in 1782, one of the first illustrated museum catalogs of its kind. His son, Ennio Guirino Visconti, assisted in the project, completing the series when he succeeded his father as Commissioner of Antiquities. A second son, Filippo Aurelio Visconti, worked with Ennio Quirino at the Louvre museum and later succeeded him as Commissioner. Visconti’s scholarly approch the classical archeology, his reliance on facts instead of anecdote and his interested in illustrations as a legitimate part of intellectual publication form the basis of modern archaeology and museology.

    Selected Bibliography

    and Visconti, Ennio Quirino. Il museo Pio-Clementino. 7 vols. Rome: Luigi Mirri, 1782-1807.


    Howard, Seymour. “Visconti, Giovanni Battista.” Dictionary of Art.


    "Visconti, G. B.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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