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Coor, Gertrude Marianne Achenbach

    Full Name: Coor, Gertrude Marianne Achenbach

    Other Names:

    • Gertrude Marianne Achenbach

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1915

    Date Died: 1962

    Place Born: Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany

    Place Died: Princeton, Mercer, NJ, USA

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Italian (culture or style) and painting (visual works)


    Scholar of Italian painting. Her father was a lawyer and her mother a painter and concert pianist. After receiving the highest honors of her Abiturum from the Gymnasium under which she studied, she won a scholarship which enabled her to spend a year at Wells College, Aurora, NY. She returned to Germany only to find Nazi control of her selected university, Munich, too much to for a Jew such as herself to tolerate. She moved to Perugia in 1935 only to find the same political hatred there. She stayed with friends at the University in Cardiff, Wales, before securing a scholarship via the Institute for International Education to attend Bryn Mawr in 1938. She received US citizenship the same year. Without an undergraduate degree, Achenbach was permitted to begin graduate work, achieving an M.A. in 1940. In 1945 Charles Rufus Morey offered Achenbach a position with the Index of Christian Art at Princeton. She worked there while writing her dissertation at the Institute of Fine Art at New York University under Richard Offner. An photograph often used in art historiographic texts of the post-war faculty of the Institute is a picture of her Ph.D. defense. Achenbach married a Princeton physicist, Thomas Coor in 1946. She received her Ph.D. in 1948 on a topic of Coppo di Marcovaldo. The years 1948-50 were spent with her husband in London where she was informally attached to the Warburg Institute. Returning to Princeton, the Coors settled permanently with Gertrude again working at the Index of Christian Art and teaching courses at Rutgers University in 1958 and 1959. She accepted a research assistant position under Millard Meiss at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton in 1959. In 1961 her book on Neroccio de’ Landi appeared. As a woman in the 1950s married to a university professor, she was expected to keep house and run the other domestic activities in addition to whatever scholarship she wanted to pursue. Coor purportedly worked sixteen hours every day on her research in addition to her wife duties. Coor was a consultant for the Kress Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was at work on a book on the evolution of the Sienese altarpiece when she contracted a terminal illness and died at 47.

    Selected Bibliography

    Neroccio de’ Landi, 1447-1500. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961. “Notes on Six Parts of Two Dismembered Sienese Altarpieces.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 65 (March 1965)” 129-36; “Contributions to the Study of Ugolino di Nerio’s Art.” Art Bulletin 37 (September 1955): 153-65; “Painting of St. Lucy in the Walters Art Gallery and Some Closely Related Representations.” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 18 (1955): 78-90; “Earliest Italian Representation of the Coronation of the Virgin.” Burlington Magazine 99 (October 1957): 328-32; “Coppo di Marcovaldo: his Art in Relation to the Art of his Time.” Marsyas 5 (1947-1949): 1-21; “Iconography of Tobias and the Angel in Florentine Painting of the Renaissance.” Marsyas 3 (1943-1945): 71-86; “Early Italian Tabernacle in the Possession of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 25 (March 1944): 129-52.0.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. 105-7; [obituaries:] Lee, Rensselaer W. “Gertrude Achenbach Coor, 1915-1962.” Art Journal 22 no. 4 (Summer 1963): 246; “Mrs. Thomas Coor, Art Historian, 47.” New York Times September 10, 1962, p. 29.


    "Coor, Gertrude Marianne Achenbach." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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