Sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt (1731–1802) has left behind detailed and comprehensive records (his “Nachricht”), which are an invaluable source for our knowledge of art during the second half of the 18th century. Central among his papers at the Royal Danish Library are the two hand-written volumes that are now published for the first time. Volume one (Part A) contains Wiedewelt’s biography and a chronological inventory of his works compiled by his cousin P. F. Zeise, in part based on the sculptor’s own records. Volume two (Part B) consists of an alphabetized index for the inventory. As documentation of an artist’s practice, the inventory in particular is unique for its time and also offers insight into the unique and extensive international network he developed through his travels and commissions for both domestic and foreign clients. Naturally, the manuscript is also a principal source of knowledge on early neoclassicist sculpture in Denmark.
The publication of the Wiedewelt manuscript is the result of collaboration between MA Karin Kryger, who was responsible for the transcription of the source text, and Dr Phil Vibeke Winge, who was responsible for annotating and editing the publication. To elucidate the source, the publishers also wrote the four articles below on the manuscript, its subject, its author and its language and language use.