Skip to content

Ettlinger, Leopold D.

    Full Name: Ettlinger, Leopold D.

    Other Names:

    • Leopold David Ettlinger

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1913

    Date Died: 1989

    Place Born: Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia

    Place Died: Berkeley, Alameda, CA, USA

    Home Country/ies: Germany

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

    Career(s): educators


    Warburg Institute historian of the Italian renaissance and Berkeley Art Department Chair, 1970-80. He was bornin in Königsberg, Germany, present day Kaliningrad, Russia. Ettlinger was born to Emil Ettlinger and Dora Beer (Ettlinger), his father the university librarian in Königsberg. After receiving his Abitur from the Gynmasium in Halle in 1932, he studied at the universities of Halle and Marburg. His fields of concentration included archaeology, philosophy and art history (under Paul Frankl). He received his Ph.D. in Halle under Herbert Koch in 1937, writing on the topic of Gottfried Semper and the ancient world. Between 1935-37 he assisted Koch cataloging the the collection of Crete and Mycenean objects, photodocumenting them for the archaeological museum in Halle. Because of his Jewish background Ettlinger was forced to leave Germany for England in 1938, working at the Warburg Institute and living with Fritz Saxl. He married Amrei Jacoby in 1939 (d. 1955). Nikolaus Bernard Leon Pevsner secured him a job working as a social worker in children’s refugee camps (Movement for the Care of Children from Germany), 1940-1941. He was interned briefly in 1940 on the Isle of Man, together with other Warburg refugees. After his release he was made a member of the Warburg Institute. Ettlinger published his first English-language essays in the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. He supported himself during the years 1941-1948 as an assistant master of Edward VI’s school in Birmingham for six years and writing a volume for Allen Lane’s King Penguin book series in 1947 on Christmas cards. In 1948, Saxl appointed Ettlinger curator of the photographic collection of the Warburg, now part of the University of London, shortly before Saxl’s sudden death. Ettlinger also lectured at the University of Reading. After 1956 he was a lecturer at the Warburg (to 1964). At the suggestion of Erwin Panofsky, Ettlinger spent part of the1956 year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, studying the Sixtus’ early painting patronage. The result would be his well-received 1965 book, The Sistine Chapel before Michelangelo: Religious Imagery and Papal Primacy. In 1959 he married Madeleine Jay Noirot and replaced E. H. Gombrich as the Durning Lawrence Professor of the History of Art at the Slade School, University College. His 1961 inaugural lecture was on the current status of art history (“Art History Today”). He lectured for the academic year 1963-1964 at Yale University. While chair of the department (1966-70) he helped created joint degree programs in the art history department. In 1970 Ettlinger accepted the chairmanship of the Department of the History of Art at the University of California at Berkeley. There he had many students and earned a reputation as an outstanding lecturer: persuasive arguments, perfect delivery and moving elocution. Ettlinger married a third time to Helen Shahrokh Lewis (later divorced), with whom he wrote a monograph on Botticelli in 1976. At Berkeley he issued his catalogue raisonné of the Pollaiuolo, Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo: Complete Edition with a Critical Catalogue. He remained on the Berkeley faculty until 1980. On Easter, 1979 he was received into the Roman Catholic faith, surprising to some, but to others the culmination of his engagement with Christianity through his work on the Sistine Chapel. In 1983 he headed a panel discussing the Vienna School of art history at the 25th International Congress of the History of Art, later published as Wien und die Entwicklung der kunsthistorischen Methode.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation] Gottfired Semper und die Antike; Beiträge zur Kunstanschauung des deutschen Klassizismus. Halle, 1937; and Holloway, R. G. Compliments of the Season. London: Penguin Books, 1947; Kandinsky’s “At Rest”. Charlton lecture 1960; London: Oxford University Press, 1961; Art History Today. [inaugural address for University College] London: H. K. Lewis, 1961; “On Science, Industry and Art: Some Theories of Gottfried Semper.” Architectural Review 86 (July 1964): 57-60; The Sistine Chapel Before Michelangelo: Religious Imagery and Papal Primacy.Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965; and Ettlinger, Helen S. Botticelli. London: Thames and Hudson, 1976; Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo: Complete Edition with a Critical Catalogue. Oxford: Phaidon, 1978; Wien und die Entwicklung der kunsthistorischen Methode. Akten des XXV. Internationalen Kongresses für Kunstgeschichte 1. 3 vols. Vienna: Böhlau, 1984.


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, pp. 20 n. 36, 25 n. 49; Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon: zweihundert Porträts deutschsprachiger Autoren aus vier Jahrhunderten. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999, pp. 78-80; 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. 139-42; [obituaries] Trapp, Joseph B. “Leopold D. Ettlinger.” The Burlington Magazine 131 (December 1989): 851-2; The Times [London], July 22 1989; Svetlana Alpers, Michael Baxandall, Jacques de Caso. University of California In Memoriam 1992. “Leopold David Ettlinger, History of Art: Berkeley.”


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Ettlinger, Leopold D.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: