Two volumes of studies were prepared in connection with the Jubilee International Conference celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the First Lecture on the History of Art at Vilna / Wilno / Vilnius University on September 14–16, 2010 in Toruń.On September 15, 1810, professor of “etching and the literature of fine arts” Joseph (Józef) Saunders (London 1773 – Krzemieniec, Volhynia 1854) delivered the lecture at the Faculty of Literature and Art, entitled Discours sur l’influence ou l’utilité des arts imitatifs (On the Influence and Use of Mimetic Arts), published in Polish under the title O wpływie i użytku sztuk naśladowniczych in “Pamiętnik Magnety-czny Wileński” (“Vilna Magnetic Diary”) in 1816. The bicentenary of the first universi-ty lecture on the history of art at the Vil-na University is simultaneously the bicen-tenary of the research into art in Poland, Lithuania and Central-Eastern Europe. Af-ter World War II, the tradition of the Vilna University was inherited in Poland by the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.The book – with 71 studies prepared by scientists from 14 countries – is devoted to the past of art history as a scientific disci-pline and its contribution to creating na-tional and aesthetic identity of the coun-tries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the majority of which were de-prived of independence and subordinat-ed to partitioning of the nations in the 19th century, and in the 20th century, subject-ed to the pressure of totalitarian states. In the 19th century, these nations were often united in their fight for independence and democratic civic rights. Research, as well as providing patronage to artistic heritage, became an important element of creating national cultures. It began with the inter-est in antiquity, typical in the first half of the 19th century, and expanded to estab-lishing of institutions of culture and learn-ing (scientific societies, art schools, muse-ums, periodicals), and to creating univer-sity-based history of art. The scope of the book also encompasses national minori-ties, such as Jews, Armenians, Tatars and the Finno-Ugric peoples. Different artistic, cultural, historical, and religious traditions of states, nations and national minorities, as well as a variety of relationships of art and political and social ideologies exerted their influence on art historians, conduct-ing research on this part of Europe.Important anniversary evokes reflection both on the complicated past of the his-tory of art and on its present state in this part of Europe, the region which, after the October Revolution and then World War II, was separated from the rest of the conti-nent by a wall.
Vol. 1: – The genesis of art history as a science – Research on religious art – The historiography of art – Art history in the Islamic Europe Vol. 2: – The formation of art history centers – Art history and national ideologies – Art history and contemporary political and social ideologies