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Bieber, Margarete

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Bieber, Margarete

    Other Names:

    • Margarete Bieber

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1879

    Date Died: 1978

    Place Born: Przechowo, Kreis Swiece, Poland

    Place Died: New Canaan, Fairfield, CT, USA

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): ancient and archaeology


    Archaeologist and art historian of ancient theater. Bieber was the daughter of Jacob Heinrich Bieber, a factory owner, and Valli Bukofzer (Bieber). She was born in Schönau, Kreis Schwetz, Prussia, which is present-day Przechowo, Kreis Swiece, Poland. In 1899 she was privately tutored in Berlin, receiving her Abitur. In Berlin she studied under Hermann Diels (1848-1922), Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1931), and Reinhard Kekulé von Stradonitz. In 1904 she moved to Bonn to study under Georg Loeschke as well as Paul Clemen and Franz Bücheler (1837-1908). Bieber graduated from the University of Bonn in 1907, writing her dissertation under Loeschcke. One of the first female members of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (German Archaeological Insitute, or DAI) in 1913, she was the first to receive their prestigious travel fellowships in 1909. From then until 1914 she lived in Rome, where she met the German scholarly community working on classical art, such as Walther Amelung and Gerhart Rodenwaldt, Wilhelm Dörpfeld and the British discoverer of Minoan Crete, Arthur J. Evans. She returned to Germany to teach Loeschke’s classes in Berlin during World War I, privately because her gender prohibited an official appointment, between 1916-1918; her students at this time included Dora and Erwin Panofsky. In 1919 she moved to the University of Giessen where she was the second woman professor in that country. She was made a full professor in 1931. The Nazi dismissal of Jews from academic positions forced her to leave Germany in July, 1933. She emigrated first to England and an unsatisfactory year at Oxford. The following year she emigrated to the United States and taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, with William Bell Dinsmoor and Meyer Schapiro in the Department of Fine Arts. In New York, other female scholars, such as Gisela M. A. Richter, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mary Hamilton Swindler, and archaeologist Hetty Goldman (1881-1972) recommended assisted her. She was Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, 1935-1948. While at Columbia, she published The History of the Greek and Roman Theater (1939) and Laocoon, the Influence of the Group since Its Rediscovery (1942). She became an American citizen in 1940. Bieber retired from Columbia in 1948, continuing to lecture at Barnard, the New School for Social Research, and Princeton University. Her post-retirement years included publications such as Alexander the Great in Greek and Roman Art (1964), The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age (1955), and Ancient Copies (1977). She was awarded the Gold Medal for distinguished service by the Archaeological Institute of American in 1974, at age ninety-five. At the time of her death she was working on a book of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman dress, which remained unfinished. She died at her (adopted) daughter’s house in Connecticut in 1976. Through her writing and her reading selections of other art historians, Bieber helped disseminate the many of the more abstract art historical ideas of her German colleagues. Her German Readings in the History and Theory of Fine Arts (1946) kept primary source texts alive to modern art history students. Her own work incorporated the methods of Guido Kaschnitz von Weinberg and others. Her original research on Greek theater and sculpture, particularly the problem of Roman copies of Greek originals, remains a legacy. Her attempt to settle on a definitive interpretation of the Laocoön was countered in 2000 by Richard Brilliant.

    Selected Bibliography

    Die antiken Skulpturen und Bronzen des Konigl. Museum Fridericianum in Cassel. Marburg: N. G. Elwertsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1915; Die Denkmäler zum Theaterwesen im Altertum. Berlin: Vereinigung wissenschaftlicher Verleger, 1920; Griechische Kleidung. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1928; Entwicklungsgeschichte der griechischen Tracht von der vorgriechischen zeit bis zur römischen Kaiserzeit. Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1934; The History of the Greek and Roman Theater. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1939; Laocoon: The Influences of the Group since its Discovery. New York: Columbia University Press, 1942; German Readings in the History and Theory of Fine Arts. New York: H. Bittner and company, 1946; The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age. New York: Columbia University Press, 1955; The Statue of Cybele in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1968; Ancient copies: Contributions to the History of Greek and Roman Art. New York: New York University Press, 1977.


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 46; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, p. 72; Contemporary Authors 17R; Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988, pp. 196-197; Bonfante, Larissa. “Bieber, Margarete.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, p. 159-60; Medwid, Linda M. The Makers of Classical Archaeology: A Reference Work. New York: Humanity Books, 2000 pp. 36-37; Bonfante, Larissa. “Bieber, Margarete.” American National Biography; Bonfante, Larissa, and Recke, Matthias. “Margarete Bieber: Two Worlds.” paper Breaking Ground: Women in Old World Archaeology. Brown University, 2004. bios/Bieber_Margarete.pdf .


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Bieber, Margarete." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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