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Aubert, Marcel

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Aubert, Marcel

    Other Names:

    • Marcel Aubert

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 09 April 1884

    Date Died: 28 December 1962

    Place Born: Paris, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: France

    Subject Area(s): archaeology, education, and Medieval (European)


    Medievalist and educator; director of the Société français d’archéologie; and professor of the l’école de Chartes, l’école du Louvre, l’école des Beaux-Arts. Aubert’s father was an architect (d. 1891). Aubert attended the Lycée Condorcet and then the École Nationale des Chartes. At the École a thesis on the Cathedral of Senlis under the Romanesque scholar Robert Charles de Lasteyrie du Saillant in 1907. Aubert joined the Department of Prints of the Bibliothèque nationale in 1909, rising to assistant librarian in the department in 1911. He joined the military for France in World War I, was capture and spent three years in a camp in Germany. He returned to France and his position in the print department in 1919, but the following year took a position at the Musée du Louvre in the department of Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern Sculpture under Paul Vitry. He began teaching at the Louvre’s École du Louvre as associate professor of decorative Arts in 1921. He returned to the École Nationale des Chartes in 1924 to succeed to Eugène Lefèvre-Pontalis as chair of Medieval Archaeology. Beginning in the 1920, Aubert entered into a collaboration with the Marquise (Geneviève Aliette de Rohan-Chabot) de Maillé (1896-1972) who travelled to many of the building sites, photographing and securing the arrangements for the documentation. A stream of books began to appear by Aubert on these individual monuments. He also taught at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts in the chair of French Architecture between 1929 and 1934. Aubert was elected to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres (France’s Academy of the Humanities) in 1934. He alternated a teaching position every other year with Henri Focillon at Yale University (Bazin 489) beginning that year as well. He was made chair of Medieval Archaeology at the École Nationale Supérieure in 1937. In 1940 he succeeded Vitry as chief curator, lecturing as professor of Sculpture as well (to 1949). In 1943, at the height of World War II, Aubert published him most important book, one on cistercian architecture, L’architecture cistercienne en France. Like so many of the other publications the Marquise had contributed to, she was not given co-authorship (Fergusson). Aubert was named senior curator of the National Museums, he retired from the Museums in 1955. as well as being curator of the Musée Rodin and the Institut de France’s Musée Condé in the Château de Chantilly. At his death in 1962, he left uncompleted a manuscript for a survey of Gothic art which was seen through publication by Josef Adolf Schmoll genannt Eisenwerth and Hans Hellmut Hofstätter. His students included Jean Adhémar (for his early studies). Aubert’s method was greatly influenced by Lefèvre-Pontalis and the other French archaeologists who eschewed the theoretical (German) model of medieval scholarship in favor of analysis of campaigns of construction, facade iconography and the style’s relation to specific schools (Murray). He was among the first to seriously study stained glass as an art-historical subject.

    Selected Bibliography

    [bibliography to 1948:] Deschamps, Paul, ed. Bibliographie des travaux scientifique de M. Marcel Aubert: ouvrages et articles publiés de 1905 à 1948. Paris: Société Française d’Archéologie, 1948; L’art français à l’époque romane: architecture et sculpture. 4 vols. Paris: A. Morancé, 1929, English, French Sculpture at the Beginning of the Gothic Period, 1140-1225. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1929; [representative example of his cathedral documentation series:] La cathédrale de Metz. Paris: A. Picard, 1931; Les plus anciennes croisées d’ogives: leur rôle dans la construction. Paris: A. Picard, 1934; Vitraux des cathédrales de France, XIIe et XIIIe siècles. Paris, Plon, 1937, English, French Cathedral Windows of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. New York: Oxford University Press 1947; L’architecture cistercienne en France. Paris: Éditions d’art et d’histoire, 1943; and Schmoll gen. Eisenwerth, J. Adolf, and Hofstätter, Hans Hellmut. Le gothique à son apogée, Paris: A. Michel 1964, English, High Gothic Art. London: Methuen, 1964; Cathédrales et trésors gothiques de France. Grenoble: Arthaud, 1971.and Goubet, Simone. Cathédrales, abbatiales, collégiales et prieurés romans de France. English, Romanesque cathedrals and abbeys of France. London: Vane, 1966.


    Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art; de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, pp. 276, 489-490; pp. 324-325; Murray, Stephen. “The Study of Gothic Architecture.” in in Rudolf, Conrad, ed. A Companion to Medieval Art : Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006,.pp. 387-388; Fergusson, Peter. “Cistercian Architecture.” in Rudolf (above), p. 585; [obituaries:] Deschamps, Paul. “Marcel Aubert.” Monuments et Memoirs publies par Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 54 (1965): 1-6; Thibout, Marc. “Marcel Aubert.” Bulletin Monumental 121 no. 1 (1963): [9]-19; Picard, C. Revue Archéologique 1 (January 1963): 95-98; Vallery-Radot, Jean. Centre international d’etudes romane Bulletin no. 3 (July 1962): 5-8.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Aubert, Marcel." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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