© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jean-André Getti, French (active early 19th century)
Manufactured by Musée du Louvre Atelier de Moulage
Head of Laocoön, after the Antique
Work Type
c. 1803
Creation Place: Europe, France, Paris
Physical Descriptions
63 x 39 x 32 cm (24 13/16 x 15 3/8 x 12 5/8 in.)
Musée du Louvre Plaster Workshop. Acquired by Harvard University before 1828
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard University Portrait Collection
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Label Text: The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820 , written 2017
Cast from multi-piece molds of an original sculpture, plaster reproductions offered a way to study the ideal Classical body for those Americans unable to travel abroad. They found a ready advocate in Edward Everett, Eliot Professor of Greek Literature, who believed that casts provided a more direct experience of the past than ancient literature. “There is no medium of another language through which we must penetrate,” he wrote in 1821. “We are prepared to see such a work, as it was seen by the ancients themselves.” A devoted reader of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, whose books served as a foundation for the discipline of art history, Everett believed that the arts reached their apogee in Classical sculpture, and lauded the Laocoön as one of the “master pieces of ancient and modern times.” The donor of the works seen here—part of the large cast collection that Harvard assembled in the early 19th century—is unknown.

Publication History

Ethan Lasser, "A Classroom in the Age of Enlightenment", The Magazine Antiques (New York, NY, 2017), Fig. 2

Jonathan Shaw and Jennifer Carling, "The Lost Museum: Teachings of the Philosophy Chamber, Recreated", Harvard Magazine (Cambridge, MA, 2017), pp. 42-49, p. 44

Ethan Lasser, ed., The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), p. 136, Plate 72; p. 210 (detail), pp. 218-221 in Oliver Wunsch's "Decay"

Exhibition History

The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/19/2017 - 12/31/2017; The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 04/17/2018 - 07/15/2018

Related Works

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu