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Erwin Panofsky papers, 1904-1990, bulk, 1920-1968

Erwin Panofsky papers, 1904-1990, bulk, 1920-1968

Panofsky, Erwin, 1892-1968

Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 19.8 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Erwin Panofsky measure 19.3 linear feet and are dated 1904-1990, bulk dates 1920-1968. They consist of correspondence, writings, biographical material, and printed material documenting Panofsky's career as an art historian, teacher, and writer.

Biographical/Historical Note

Erwin Panofsky (1892-1990) was an Art historian in Princeton, N.J. Panofsky was born in Germany. Came to the U.S. in 1933 after he was dismissed by the Nazis from his post at the University of Hamburg. He became professor for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.

Provenance

The bulk of the material was donated in 1979 and 1990 by Gerda Soergel Panofsky, widow of Panofsky. Additional bound lecture volumes donated in 2010 by Barnet Kottler, who purchased them at auction.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Erwin Panofsky Papers,
1904-1990
(bulk dates 1920-1968)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.panoerwi
Finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Erwin Panofsky measure 19.3 linear feet and are dated 1904-1990 (bulk dates 1920-1968). They consist of correspondence, writings, biographical material, and printed material documenting Panofsky's career as an art historian, teacher, and writer.
The Panofsky papers are comprised mainly of correspondence with colleagues, scholars, students, art dealers, galleries and museums, libraries, colleges and universities, organizations, and periodicals. Among the correspondents are colleagues, scholars, students, art dealers, galleries and museums, libraries, colleges and universities, organizations, and periodicals. Correspondents include: Udo von Alvensleben, Walter William Spencer Cook, Paul Coremans, Walter Friedländer, William S. Heckscher, Ludwig H. Heydenreich, Horst Janson, Adolf Katzenellenbogen, Richard Krauatheimer, Edward E. Lowinsky, Millard Meiss, Gert van Osten, Richard Salomon, Craig Smyth, Wolfgang Stechow, Booth and Betty Tarkington, Egon Verheyen, and Wilhelm Vöge.
Writings by Panofsky include drafts, notes, and manuscripts of articles, book reviews, books, and lectures. Biographical material consists of awards and certificates, diplomas (including many honorary degrees), and membership certificates. Among the printed material are articles and clippings about or mentioning Panofsky, programs for graduation ceremonies at which Panofsky was awarded honorary degrees, reviews of Panofsky's books, obituaries, and memorial programs and tributes.
Biographical Note
Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968), a native of Hannover, Germany, grew up in Berlin where he received a classical education at the Joachimsthalsches Gymnasium. He then studied at the universities of Berlin, Munich and Freiburg/Breslau. After earning a Ph. D. in 1914 from the University of Freiburg, Panofsky spent three years on post-doctoral study in Berlin, and during this period, married fellow student and art historian Dorothea (Dora) Mosse.
Although primarily a scholar of Gothic and Renaissance art, Panofsky had wide interests. Erwin Panofsky was a highly respected and influential scholar who was a much loved, generous, and encouraging teacher of several generations of productive scholars. Many students became his life long friends, and quite a few of them considered Panofsky the greatest teacher they had ever encountered.
He taught at the University of Hamburg from 1920 to1933, and during this period began to develop iconographic approaches to interpreting art through analysis of its subject matter's symbols, themes, and history. His work in this area eventually had international influence in the development of art history as a discipline.
Beginning in 1931, Panofsky taught at New York University, spending alternate semesters at the University of Hamburg until the Nazis dismissed all Jewish officials. He and his family fled Germany and came to the United States in 1933. During the academic year 1934/35, Panofsky held concurrent appointments at both New York University and Princeton University. He joined the faculty of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, in 1935, where he remained until his retirement in 1962. In addition, he continued to teach graduate seminars at New York University and Princeton Universtiy.
He was a prolific writer, and his many books and articles represent some of the 20th century's most important writings in the field of art history, particularly in the realm of iconography. Among his books are:
"Idea": Ein Beitrag zur Begriffsgeschichte der älteren Kunstheorie
(1924) [translated later as
Idea, The History of a Concept
],
Studies in Iconology
(1939),
Codex Huygens and Leonardo da Vinci's Art Theory
(1940),
The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer
(1943),
Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St. Denis and Its Art Treasures
(1946),
Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism
(1951),
Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character
(1953),
Meaning and the Visual Arts
(1950),
Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art
(1960),
The Iconography of Correggio's Camera di San Paolo
(1961), and
Problems in Titian, Mostly Iconographic
(1964).
Panofsky wrote on subjects other than art history. He was an authority on Mozart, and also wrote about the history of cinema. His 1934 article "On Movies" (originally published in Princeton University's
Bulletin of the Department of Art and Archaeology
), remains a highly regarded work on the subject.
The recipient of numerous honorary degrees, Panofsky most prized the first from the University of Utrecht, 1936, as it brought great satisfaction at a time when he was still coping with the trauma of expatriation. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and several other foreign academies. In 1962, Panofsky received the Haskins Medal awarded by The Medieval Academy of America for a distinguished book in medieval history.
His wife Dora Mosse Panofsky died in 1965; in 1966, he married Gerda Soergel, also an art historian. Erwin Panofsky died in Princeton, New Jersey, March 14, 1968.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 4 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1921-1978, undated (Boxes 1-16; 16 linear ft.; Reels 2108- 2128)
Series 2: Writings, 1915-1968, undated (Boxes 17-19; 2.3 linear ft.)
Series 3: Biographical Information, 1905-1967 (Boxes 19-21; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1904-1990, undated (Box 19; 0.5 linear ft.)
Provenance
The bulk of the material was donated in 1979 and 1990 by Gerda Soergel Panofsky, widow of Panofsky. Additional bound lecture volumes donated in 2010 by Barnet Kottler, who purchased them at auction.
Processing Information
Correspondence was processed by AAA staff prior to microfilming in 1981. The papers were rehoused and the unmicrofilmed portion was arranged in accordance with archival standards by Catherine S. Gaines in 2006.

Additional Forms Available

Series 1: Correspondence, is available on 35-mm microfilm reels 2108-2128 at Archives of American Art and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Restrictions on Use

The Erwin Panofsky papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The donor, Gerda Panofsky, owns copyright, where applicable.

How to Cite This Collection

Erwin Panofsky papers, 1904-1990, bulk, 1920-1968. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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