Millin: un’introduzione

Author: Anna Maria D’Achille, Antonio Iacobini

Millin: an Introduction

This paper gives an introduction to the figure of the French archaeologist and art historian Aubin-Louis Millin, who made a long italian trip between 1811 an 1813, whose main stages are here retraced.
More than an educational trip of 18th century tradition, Millin’s journey was above all a mission of inspection patrimoniale on behalf of the French government, in territories − at that time still quite unknown − that had recently become a part of the Napoleonic Empire. His two primary aims were: studying and documenting the numerous monuments inédits, with the idea of publishing a new Voyage pittoresque of the Italian peninsula, and carefully checking their condition, in order to report to the authorities every case needing restoration.
Millin’s modern vision of the artistic heritage was inspired by the new concept of monument historique, which he had theorized during the years of the French Revolution and personally explained at the Assemblée national in December 1790.
Millin’s italian trip revolutionized the custom of Grand Tour. He was interested not only in the ancient monuments, but in those of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque age as well, and he ventured beyond the traditional routes into the most marginal and unexplored regions of the Kingdom of Naples. The foundations of his new vision of Medieval Art are both the idea of preservation of cultural Heritage, born during the revolutionary Iconoclasm, and the participation to the new trend of the ‘Art History by images’, introduced by his friend Seroux d’Agincourt.