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Cohn, Werner

    Full Name: Cohn, Werner

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1905

    Date Died: 1960

    Place Born: Berlin, Germany

    Place Died: Florence, Tuscany, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Florentine, Italian (culture or style), Italian Renaissance-Baroque styles, painting (visual works), and Renaissance


    Collaborator of Offner’s Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. Cohn studied in Berlin between 1923-26 under Adolph Goldschmidt and Freiburg, 1926-29 under Hans Jantzen, for whom he wrote his dissertation in 1929. His topic was on Han Holbein the Younger. Between 1931 and 1933 Cohn worked as a volunteer in the prints and drawings and library sections at the Staatlichen Museen in Berlin. When the Nazis came to power, Cohn, a protestant of Jewish lineage, was dismissed from his position. He worked for the Heitz publishing firm in Strassburg on their book series on prints (Einblattdrucke) from specific publishers and libraries until 1935 when he emigrated to Italy. There, New York University professor Richard Offner hired him as an assistant, in addition to another German, Klara Steinweg, to work on his corpus of Florentine painting, the Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. When World War II erupted in Europe, Cohn and Offner left for the United States and Steinweg back to Germany. Cohn spent the war years back in Italy, in Assisi, gathering material on the influence of the “commune” on 13th-century cultural life. After the war, Cohn returned to Florence where he worked as a translator and in the archives of the Uffizi. He was working on a documentary volume of Florentine painting, supported by a research grant from Germany, when he died at age 55.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Der Wandel der Architekturgestaltung in den Werken Hans Holbeins d. j.: ein Beitrag zur Holbein-Chronologie. Ph.D., Freiburg, 1929, published, Strassburg: J. H. E. Heitz, 1930; Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des deutschen Einblattholzschnitts im 2. Drittel des 15. Jahrhunderts. Strassburg: J. H. E. Heitz, 1934; Rubens. [Italian] Florence: Electra editrice, 1951, English, New York: Crown Publishers, 1951; Luca Cranach, 1472-1553. Milan: Electra Editrice, 1956; Rembrandt, 1606-1669. Milan: Electra Editrice, 1956; Hans Holbein, 1497-1543. Milan: Electra Editrice, 1957; Einblattdrucke der Strassburger druckerei Johannes Grüninger. Strassburg: J. H. E. Heitz, 1937; Holz- und metallschnitte aus öffentl. in- und ausländischen sammlungen und Bibliotheken in Innsbruck, Salzburg, Wien, Delsberg, Neuenstadt, St. Gallen, Lyon, Paris, Strassburg, Tunbridge Wells. Strassburg: J. H. E. Heitz, 1938; Holz- und metallschnitte aus öffentlichen sammlungen und bibliotheken in Maihingen, Marburg, Neisse, Nürnberg, Rosenheim, Rottenburg, Stuttgart und Würzburg. Strassburg: Heitz, 1935; Holz- und metallschnitte aus öffentlichen sammlungen und bibliotheken in Hannover, Koblenz, Köln, Leipzig und Lüneburg. Strassburg: Heitz, 1935; contributor, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting. New York: Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1935-1939.0.Metzler


    Wendland, Ulrike. Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Munich: Saur, 1999, vol. 1, pp. 95-8; [obituary:] Middeldorf, Ulrich. “In Memoriam Wernere Cohn.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes Florenz 9 (1959/60): 265.


    "Cohn, Werner." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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