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Déonna, Waldemar

    Full Name: Déonna, Waldemar

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1880

    Date Died: 1959

    Place Born: Cannes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

    Place Died: Genève, Switzerland

    Home Country/ies: Switzerland

    Subject Area(s): ancient, Ancient Greek (culture or style), and archaeology


    Archeologist and scholar of ancient Greek art; Director of the Musée de Genève, 1922-1955. Déonna was the son of Auguste-Henri Déonna (1846-1894), the Swiss vice consul to Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and mother Marie-Augusta Bönecke (Déonna). He married Marie-Edmée Gans. After attending the universities in Geneva and Paris studying archaeology, epigraphy and vase painting, he spent the years 1903-07 at the Ecole française d’archéologie in Athens, traveling extensively in Greece and Turkey and writing his Ph.D. on terracotta sculpture. During his time, he amassed more than 3500 images of classical sites and objects. He knew Wilhelm Dörpfeld. In 1920 he joined the faculty at the university in Geneva, becoming professor of classical archaeology in 1925, a position he would hold until 1955. In 1922 he also became director of the Musée d’art et d’histoire, and the Musée archéologique in Geneva. He founded the periodical Genava in 1932. In 1950 he directed the founding of the Library for art and archaeology (Bibliothèque d’art et d’archéologie). Methodologically, Déonna contributed to scholarship surrounding the development of form; his morphological comparisons between Greek and Christian medieval art, which appear in Du miracle grec au miracle chrétien (3 vols. 1945-48).

    Selected Bibliography

    [complete bibliography:] “Bibliographie des travaux de Waldemar Deonna, 1904-1956.” Hommages à Waldemar Deonna. Brussels: Latomus, Revue d’études latines, 1957, pp. 2-48; and de Ridder, Andre. L’art en Grece. Paris: Renaissance du Livre, 1924, English, Art in Greece. New York: Knopf, 1927; L’archéologie: sa valeur, ses méthodes. Paris: H. Laurens, 1912; “Peut-on comparer l’art de la Grèce à l’art du Moyen Age?” [brochure]. 1910; “Crab and the Butterfly: a Study in Animal Symbolism.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 17 (January 1954): 47-86; “Un relief de Jean Goujon a Geneve?” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 5 no. 2 (December 1929): 357-71; Du miracle grec au miracle chrétien: classiques et primitivistes dans l’art. 3 vols. Basle: Les éditions Birkhæuser, 1945-48; Etudes d’archéolgie et d’art. Geneva: Albert Kündig, 1914; Les “Apollons archaïques:” étude sur le type masculin de la statuaire grecque au VIme siècle avant notre ère. Paris: Libr. Georg & Co., 1909; Recherches, English partial translation, Sypher, Wylie, ed. “Waldemar Deonna: Primitivism and Classicism: The Two Faces of Art History.” Art History: an Anthology of Modern Criticism. New York: Vintage Books, 1963, pp. 27-47; Les lois et les rythmes dans l’art. Paris: E. Flammarion, Year: 1914; Catalogues des sculptures antiques [from the] Musée d’art et d’histoire. Geneva: H. Jarrys, 1923; L’archéologie: sa valeur, ses méthodes. 3 vols. Paris: H. Laurens, 1912.


    “Deonna, Waldemar.” Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz (online); Sypher, Wylie, ed. “Waldemar Deonna: Primitivism and Classicism.” Art History: an Anthology of Modern Criticism. New York: Vintage Books, 1963, pp. 26-47; Waldemar Deonna: un archéologue derrière l’objectif de 1903 à 1939. Geneva: Musées d’Art et d’Histoire, 2000; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, p. 123; 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. 84; Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, pp. 180-181; [obituary:] Picard, C. Revue Archeologique 2 (July 1959): 103-6


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Déonna, Waldemar." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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