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Corbett, P. E.

    Full Name: Corbett, P. E.

    Other Names:

    • Peter Edgar Corbett

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1920

    Date Died: 1992

    Place Born: Preston, Hertfordshire, England, UK

    Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): archaeology and Classical


    Yates Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at University College London,1961-1982. Corbett attended the Bedford School and then St. John’s College, Oxford on a scholarship. During World War II he joined Royal Artillery but transferred to the RAF were he flew the two-man Mosquito (de Havilland 98) fighter planes. Corbett married Albertha Yates in 1944 (d. 1961). Following the war, Corbett was appointed Thomas Whitcombe Greene Scholar and Macmillan Student of British School at Athens in 1947. He left Athens in 1949 to become Assistant Keeper in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum, hired by Bernard Ashmole. Ashmole had assembled a department with, among others, Reynold Alleyne Higgins and D. E. Strong. Corbett was among those assigned to return the Museum’s objects to display (from their war-time hiding) and redesign the Duveen Gallery, which had been destroyed in the war. Corbett wrote The Sculpture of the Parthenon in 959 based upon these experiences. Although small and issued in the popular King Penguin series, the book assembles scholarly literature and personal insight into a lucid read. During this time, too, he took over labeling the vast study collection of Greek vase into what he called “a library of Greek mythology.” Corbett devoted much of his scholarly effort to recreating the frieze of the temple of Apollo at Bassae, in Arcadia. He studied objects in the Museum as well as on site together with G. U. S. Corbett (no relation) at the British School. In 1961 Corbett was appointed professor at University College London, resigning from the Museum. He developed the bachelor’s degree in archaeology, combining a full Classics degree with a full course in Archaeology. After the death of his first wife from cancer, he married the scholar of the renaissance Margery Martin in 1962. He was named President of the Society for Promotion of Hellenic Studies in 1980 (to 1983). He retired from the University of London in 1982.

    Selected Bibliography

    The Sculpture of the Parthenon. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, 1959; and Birchall, Ann. Greek Gods and heroes: Guide and Catalogue. London: British Museum, 1969; “Aeon epi Aeonidei.” Hesperia 28, no. 1 (January March 1949): 104-107; “A Vase by the Altamura Painter.” British Museum Quarterly 24, no. 3-4 (1962): 97-99.


    [obituary:] Barron, John. “Professor Peter Corbett.” The Independent (London) September 15, 1992, p. 17.


    "Corbett, P. E.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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