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Bothmer, Bernhard von

    Image Credit: The University of Chicago Press Journals

    Full Name: Bothmer, Bernhard von

    Other Names:

    • Bernhard von Bothmer

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1912

    Date Died: 1993

    Place Born: Berlin, Germany

    Place Died: New York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Egyptian (ancient), Late Period (Egyptian), and museums (institutions)

    Career(s): directors (administrators) and museum directors


    Professor of Egyptian art at New York University and Egyptian Department chairman at the Brooklyn Museum. Bothmer studied Egyptology at the universities of Berlin and Bonn. In 1932 he joined the Egyptian Department of the state museums in Berlin where he remained until 1938. The Anschluss forced Bothmer to leave Nazi Germany because of his beliefs. In the United States, Bothmer initially worked for the War Department in its Office of War Information early in World War II, moving to Army Intelligence in Europe until 1946. After the War, Bothmer joined at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before moving to the Brooklyn Museum in 1956. He married Geraldine Samuelson in 1951 (divorced 1981). In 1960 he accepted a position as professor at New York University. It was Bothmer who was responsible for the museum’s famous 1960 exhibition of Late Period Egyptian sculpture, a seminal exhibition for the study of the art of that era. The catalog, which Bothmer principally authored, is still the basic publication. Bothmer was elevated to curator of the Brooklyn Museum in 1963 and chairman of the department of Egyptian, classical and ancient Middle Eastern art at the Museum from 1979 to 1982. He was named Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art at NYU in 1982. That same year he remarried to Norma Jean Koplin. He continued to teach at NYU until two weeks before his death. He died at age 81 of cancer. His brother, Dietrich von Bothmer, was the eminent Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bothmer was particularly known for his research and writing on the Late Period in ancient Egyptian art. He established a basic chronology for the development of Late Egyptian sculpture based upon a rich first-hand knowledge Egyptian sculpture.

    Selected Bibliography

    and Holz, Robert K., and Hall, Emma Swan. Mendes I. Cairo: American Research Center in Egypt, 1980; and Meulenaere, Herman de., and MacKay, Pierre A. Mendes II. Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips, 1976; and Keith, Jean L. Brief Guide to the Department of Ancient Art. Brooklyn, NY: The Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1970; and Hall, Emma Swan. Antiquities from the Collection of Christos G. Bastis. New York: P. von Zabern, 1987; and Romano, James F. The Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art: Catalogue. Cairo: American Research Center in Egypt, 1979; Egyptian Art: Selected Writings of Bernard V. Bothmer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003; and Riefstahl, Elizabeth. Egyptian Sculpture of the Late Period: 700 B.C. to A.D. 100. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1960.


    Bothmer, Bernard V., and Hall, Emma Swan. Diary 1950: My First Visit to Egypt. Cairo: American Research Center, 2003; Pace, Eric. “Bernard V. Bothmer, 81, Curator And Professor of the Art of Egypt.” New York Times. November 29, 1993, Section D, p.8.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Bothmer, Bernhard von." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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