Monday, April 07, 2008

Kurt Weitzmann in Dictionary of Art Historians

I would like to draw the attention to a nice web-resource, Dictionary of Art Historians, which is a growing biographical dictionary of Historic Scholars, Museum Professionals and Academic Historians of Art, with many entries of interest for our readers.

As an example, here is an extract from the entry for Kurt Weitzmann, the giant on manuscript illumination:

"In 1932 he married fellow Goldschmidt student Josepha Fielder (b. 1904). Although not Jewish himself, his association with Goldschmidt, a Jew, and his refusal to join the Nazi party in order to teach as a Dozent at the University mandated his leaving Germany. He left Berlin for Princeton University in 1935, where he remained the rest of his life teaching and writing. His wife followed in 1938. At Princeton, he was a permanent member of the Institute for Advanced Study, initially engaged in preparing a corpus of illustrated manuscripts of the Septuagint with Charles Rufus Morey (q.v.) and Albert M. Friend, Jr., (q.v.). In 1938 he began his long association with Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard’s research center for Byzantine studies, presenting the paper, “Principals of Byzantine Book Illumination,” even before the center was fully established. In 1945, he succeeded Morey as professor in the department of art history. He and Friend conducted a manuscript seminar until Weitzmann’s retirement. His most influential book, Illustrations in Roll and Codex, a distillation of his principles of manuscript interpretation, appeared in 1947 (later revised and reissued in 1970). He held visiting positions at Yale (1954-55). In 1956 he began his long research association with the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai. On his first visit he examined and photographed 2,000 manuscripts. Subsequent visits were sponsored by the Alexandria-Michigan-Princeton Expedition directed by George Forsyth (q.v.). In 1960 he was visiting professor at Alexandria University. Weitzmann presented a manuscript seminar at the Universität Bonn in 1962. Together with Ernst Kitzinger (q.v.) he organized the 1965 Dumbarton Oaks conference on Byzantine contribution to the art of the West of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Named emeritus in the department in 1972, he relinquished his Institute appointment, to be a visiting scholar at Dumbarton Oaks, 1972-1974. In 1977, Weitzmann organized an exhibition and symposium (with Margaret Frazer) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, entitled, “The Age of Spirituality.” The show recapped Weitzmann’s originality in looking at the range of early medieval objects which both showed the unity of the objects and the adoption of pagan images into new meanings. In 1990 his St. Catherine’s Monastery research began to appear in book form. The first, published in collaboration with George Galvaris, was The Illuminated Manuscripts. . ."

Read the whole entry here.

I just wonder what it would have been like to be a student at Princeton some decades ago, going from one seminar with Weitzmann to the next with Metzger . . .

1 comment

  1. Tommy,
    Thanks for this. After reading this before I went to Oxford, I was pleased to see a copy of Weitzmann's huge book on the Illuminated Greek Manuscripts of St Catherine's Monastery for sale in Blackwell's. Fantastic.