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Fischel, Oskar

    Full Name: Fischel, Oskar

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1870

    Date Died: 1939

    Place Born: Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

    Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): drama (discipline), Italian (culture or style), Italian Renaissance-Baroque styles, performing arts (discipline), Renaissance, and theater arts

    Career(s): educators


    Italian Renaissance and Raphael scholar, Berlin university professor. He was born in Danzig, Prussia which is present-day Gdańsk, Poland. Fischel was the son of Margarete Fischel (father’s name not documented). He studied art history in Königsberg and Strassburg, the latter under Georg Dehio.  He earned his doctorate in 1896 Straßburg with the dissertation, Raphaels Zeichnungen: Versuch einer kritischen Sichtung der bisher veröffentlichten Blätter (“Raphael’s Drawings: Critical Review of Previously Published Papers“). From 1900-1901, he was employed at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, helping in the reorganization of their copperplate engraving collection (Kupferstichsammlung). Shortly after, Fischel received a position in the Staatlichen Museen Berlin in the Lipperheidischen Kostümbibliothek. He wrote his habilitation in Berlin, accepted in 1914, with the title, Die bildende Kunst und die Bühne, allowing a status of Privatdozent there. In 1923 he became a non-tenured professor (nichtbeamteter außerordentlicher) at the Universität Berlin while working on the first exhibition of originals in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum. He also lectured in the United States school for free and applied art and the State Art School, as well as the theatre school of Max Reinhardt. In April of 1933 he was dismissed of all agency on “non-Aryan” grounds and according to the “Gesetzes zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums” (Law on the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service). Despite his dismissal, he continued to live in Berlin and write for publications but avoided German journals and magazines. Initially refused to emigrate due to his advanced age and didn’t leave Germany until 1939, when the persecution became life threatening. At the beginning of 1939, he moved to England. Friends provided him with a place to live and collected money for the guarantee sum necessary for the residence permit. He was invited by the Windsor Castle’s librarian, Owen Morshead (1893-1977), to help him rearrange the drawing collection. He died in London shortly after beginning his work there. His Raphael was translated into English after his death by Victoria and Albert Museum curator Bernard Rackham in 1948.

    Though essentially an historian of renaissance art, Fischel’s second love was theatrical art history and fashion.  A prolific writer, he authored or edited thirteen books and catalogs on the arts, many issued in subsequent editions.  His early article contributions in English with the Burlington Magazine gave him international exposure, something which aided him when he needed to flee Germany.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Raphaels Zeichnungen. Versuch einer Kritik der bisher veröffentlichten Blätter. Strassburg, 1898; Ludwig von Hofmann. Bielefeld und Leipzig:  Velhagen & Klasing, 1903; Tizian. Des Meisters Gemälde. Stuttgart, Leipzig: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1904;  and von Boehn, Max, ed.  Die Mode. Menschen und Moden im 19. Jahrhundert. Nach Bildern und Kupfern der Zeit. vols 1-4. Munich:  Bruckmann,  1907/1908; and von Boehn, Max, ed., Die Mode. Menschen und Moden im 18 Jahrhundert. Nach Bildern und Stichen der Zeit. Munich: Bruckmann, 1909; Die Meisterwerke des Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum zu Berlin. Munich: Hanfstaengl, 1912; “Some Lost Drawings by or near to Raphael.” Burlington Magazine 20 (1911/12): 294-300; “A Dürer subject in the Price Consort’s Collection of Photographs after Raphael.” Burlington Magazine 23, 1913): 35ff; “A Composition by Raphael.” Burlington Magazine 23 (1913): 216-221; Die Zeichnungen der Umbrer. Berlin: G. Grote, 1917; Das moderne Bühnenbild. Berlin:  E. Wasmuth A.G. , 1923; Chronisten der Mode. Mensch und Kleid in Bildern aus drei Jahrtausenden. Potsdam: Müller & Co., 1923; Hans Meid, Zeichnungen. Berlin-Zehlendorf:  Rembrandt-Verlag, 1924; Paul Scheurich, Zeichnungen. Berlin-Zehlendorf: Rembrandt-Verlag, 1925; “An unknown drawing by Raphael in Zurich.”Burlington Magazine 47 (1925):  134-139; “A forger of Raphael drawings. Burlington Magazine 51 (1927): 26-31; “Die Sammlung Joseph Spiridon, Paris.” (Auktionskatalog Paul Cassirer) Berlin: Cassirer, 1929; “Art and Theatre.” Burlington Magazine 66 (1935):  4-14 and 54-66; “Raphael’s Auxiliary Cartoons.” Burlington Magazine 71 (1937): 167ff.; “Raphael’s Pink Sketchbook.” Burlington Magazine 74 (1939): 181-187; “An unknown Holy Family by Raphael.” Burlington Magazine 86 (1945): 82ff.


    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. 147-51

    Contributors: Cassandra Klos


    Cassandra Klos. "Fischel, Oskar." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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