Specialist in medieval Italian and Byzantine art. Dobbert's father was medical doctor assigned to imperial Russia, James Dobbbert. The younger Dobbert was raised in St. Petersburg. Dobbert entered at the University of Tartu, in Estonian Russia in 1857, but the following year he moved to Jena, studying history under Johann Gustav Droysen (1808-1884) and philosophy under Kuno Fischer (1824-1907). He further studied in Berlin under the literary historian Karl Werder (1806-1893), and Heidelberg, 1860 under the historian Ludwig Häusser (1818-1867), writing his dissertation on Missi Dominici (court officials appointed by Charlemagne) published in 1861. Returning to St. Petersburg, he taught first at the German school St. Petri-Schule and lecturing independently. He founded and edited a German-language newspaper St. Petersburger Wochenschrift. He married Emilie Brückner (1837-1922) in 1863. Dobbert returned to Germany, studying classical archaeology in Munich under Heinrich Brunn and writing Die monumentale Darstellung der Reformation durch Rietschel und Kaulbach in 1869. After further study in Italy, Dobbert wrote his habilitation in 1873 on the Italian sculptor Niccolò Pisano, also at the University in Munich, where he taught as a privatdozent. Before his inaugural lecture, however, he was appointed to a post in Berlin at the Akademische Hochschule für die bildenden Künste (HfbK), the modern Universität der Künste Berlin (University of the Arts) in 1873 following the death of Friedrich Eggers. Dobbert was elevated to professor in 1875. In 1880 he became a member of the Imperial Senate of Royal and director of its library. Dobbert was instrumental in the career of the first chair of art history in Finland, J. J. Tikkanen, introducing the young provincial scholar Russian collectors and scholars and advising him on his dissertation on Giotto. Dobbert's unpublished Lexikon der russischen Kunstler was one of the sources for Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker in their 37-volume dictionary of artists.
25 March 1839
29 September 1899
Lake Lucern, Gersau am Vierwaldstättersee, Switzerland
[dissertation:] Das Wesen und den Geschäftskreis der Missi Dominici. Munich, 1861; Das Mittelalter Italiens und die Grenzgebiete der abendlandischen Kunst. 1876. Volume III, part iv of Geschichte der Bildenden Künste. 7 vols. Düsseldorf: Buddeus, 1843-1864.
"The Fate of Thieme-Becker." Burlington Magazine 90, no. 543 (June 1948): 174; Ringbom, Sixten. Art History in Finland before 1920. Helsinki: 1986, p. 66.