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Raffaele Garrucci

Historian of Christian art, b. at Naples, January 23, 1812; d. at Rome, May 5, 1885

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Garrucci, RAFFAELE historian of Christian art, b. at Naples, January 23, 1812; d. at Rome, May 5, 1885. He belonged to a wealthy family, entered the Society of Jesus at the age of fifteen, and was professed on March 19, 1853. He devoted himself to the study of the Christian Fathers, also to profane and Christian antiquities; both he and the celebrated De Rossi became the principal disciples of Father Marchi. On his many journeys through Italy, France, Germany, and Spain, he collected much valuable material for his archaeological publications. In 1854 he wrote for Father Cahier’s “Melanges d’Archeologie” a study on Phrygian syncretism. Soon after he edited the notes of Jean L’Heureux on the Roman catacombs (in manuscript since 1605); later an essay on the gilded glasses of the catacombs (1858), and another on the Jewish cemetery at the Villa Randanini. In 1872 he began the publication of a monumental history of early Christian antiquities, entitled “Storia dell’ arte cristiana”. It was destined to include all works of sculpture, painting, and the minor and industrial arts, during the first eight centuries of the Christian Era. It is, in fact, a general history of early Christian art, and contains five hundred finely engraved plates and explanatory text. Five of the six volumes contain, respectively, the catacomb-frescoes—and paintings from other quarters—gilded glasses, mosaics, sarcophagi, and non-sepulchral sculptures. The first volume is devoted to the theoretical part of the work, i.e. to a history of Christian art properly so called.

In this vast collection Garrucci reedited to some extent materials taken from earlier works. For hitherto unedited materials he used photographs or reproductions of some other kind. His engravings are not always very accurate, and in point of finish are inferior to those obtained by more modern processes. His reproductions of catacomb-frescoes, in particular, have lost much of their value since the publication of the accurate work of Msgr. Wilpert (Pitture delle catacombe romane, Rome, 1903). On the whole, however, it must be said that the “Storia dell’ arte cristiana” is yet far from being superseded by any similar work. Father Garrucci had more erudition than critical judgment; in this respect his fellow-student De Rossi was far superior to him. Hence the text of Garrucci’s publications is now of doubtful authority. The list of his publications covers 118 numbers in Sommervogel, “Bibliotheque de la compagnie de Jesus” (Brussels, 1902), III. Among them are the aforementioned “Storia dell’ arte cristiana nei primi otto secoli della chiesa” (6 vols., Prato, 1872-81); “Dissertazioni archeologiche di vario argomento” (2 vols., Rome, 1864-65); “Le monete dell’ Italia antica, Raccolta generale” (Rome, 1885).


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