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Butler, Howard C.

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Butler, Howard C.

    Other Names:

    • Howard Crosby Butler

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1872

    Date Died: 1922

    Place Born: Croton Falls, Westchester, NY, USA

    Place Died: Neuilly-sur-Seine, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Anatolian (culture or style), architecture (object genre), documentary (general concept), Early Western World, Lydian, Middle Eastern, Near Eastern (Early Western World), and sculpture (visual works)


    Documentary architectural historian of the middle east. Butler was born to Edward Marchant Butler and Helen Belden Crosby (Butler). He was educated privately at the Lyons Collegiate Institute and the Berkeley School in New York, which allowed him to enter Princeton University as a sophomore, class of 1892. Not an outstanding student, he nevertheless studied history, Greek and Latin languages, ancient and modern art and gained fluency in French and Italian, Arabic, Turkish, and modern Greek The classes of the art historian Allan Marquand, who had founded the Princeton departments of art and archaeology, impressed him greatly, as well as those of Marquand’s Princeton rival, Arthur Lincoln Frothingham, Jr. Butler also participated in Princeton dramatic events. After his A. B. in1892 and A.M. the following year, Butler attended the Columbia School of Architecture returning to Princeton 1895 to lecture in architectural history. He was responsible for lectures in architectural history from the early Christian era through the renaissance. The following year Marquand married and left for a year in Rome at the American Academy (still known as the American School). Butler left his teaching in 1897 to become a Fellow in Archeology at the American Schools of Classical Studies in Rome and Athens (through 1898). His Scotland’s Ruined Abbeys appeared in 1899. During the 1899-1900 academic year he led an archeological expedition to north central Syria. He would continue these excavations until 1909. Butler returned to Princeton in 1901 where he became professor of art and archeology, a position he held the rest of his life. The Story of Athens was published in 1902. The same year, he founded the School of Architecture, which he headed. His monograph on Syria was published as Architecture and Other Arts in 1903. In 1905 he was appointed first master in residence of the Graduate College at Princeton. In 1904 Butler made a second archaeological expedition to Syria. He was contributing editor of the journal Art and Archeology from 1906 until his death. His final archaeological trip to Syria was made in 1909. The Turkish government invited Butler to oversee the excavation of Sardis. The site of the Sardis civilization–older than the Syrian–were much deeper than previous digs. Butler was able to successfully excavate these ruins between 1910 and 1922. He assumed the director position of the School of Archaeology in 1920. In his closing years at Princeton, Butler worked closely and with E. Baldwin Smith his former student and now colleague in architectural history. His monograph on Sardis appeared the same year. He died in the American Hospital at Neuilly, France and his remains interred at Croton Falls, NY. Henry Fairfield Osborn described Butler as continuing the tradition of exploring the middle-eastern archaeology begun by Austen Henry Layard, Heinrich Schliemann and Arthur J. Evans and Charles-Jean-Melchior Vogüé.

    Selected Bibliography

    Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909. Leiden: 1909-20; Smith, E. Baldwin, ed. Early Churches in Syria, Fourth to Seventh Centuries. Princeton: Department of Art and Archaeology of Princeton University, 1929; The Excavations. volume 1, and Architecture. volume 2 of, Sardis: Publications of the American Society for the Excavation of Sardis. Leyden: E. J. Brill, 1922-25; The Story of Athens, a Record of the Life and Art of the City of the Violet Crown Read in its Ruins and in the Lives of Great Athenians. New York: The Century Co, 1902; Architecture and Other Arts. Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899-1900, part. 2. New York: The Century Co., 1903.


    Panofsky, Erwin. “The History of Art.” In The Cultural Migration: The European Scholar in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953, p. 86, mentioned; 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. 49; Osborn, Henry Fairfield. “Butler, Howard Crosby.” Dictionary of American Biography. New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1928-1936; Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. The Eye of the Tiger: The Founding and Development of the Department of Art and Archaeology, 1883-1923, Princeton University. Princeton, NJ: Department of Art and Archaeology and Art Museum, 1983, pp.17ff.; Osborn, Henry Fairfield. “Howard Crosby Butler, Explorer.” Impressions of Great Naturalists: Darwin, Wallace, Huxley, Leidy, Cope, Balfour, Roosevelt, and Others. 2d ed. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1928, pp. 221-226.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Butler, Howard C.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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