Medevialist architectural historian. He was born in Danzig, Prussia which is present-day Gdańsk, Poland. Gall initially studied law before switching to art history and studying in Grenoble, Paris and ultimately Berlin under Adolph Goldschmidt. He served in World War I, during which time his dissertation, Neiderrheinische und normännische Architektur in Zeitalter der Frühgotik, appeared as a book in 1915. His notion of Norman Romanesque influence on Gothic architecture was taken up by another young art historian, Jean Bony, in Bony's dissertation. After the War, Gall took a position as a monuments conservator in Halle in 1920. Gall founded the Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte in 1923 and authored the volume in the Handbücher der Kunstgeschichte series on Gothic architecture in France and Germany, Die gotische Baukunst in Frankreich und Deutschland, in 1925. Beginning in 1930, he was the assistant to Paul Hübner in the government office of castles and gardens in Berlin (Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten in Berlin). The Gall merged the Jahrbuch with another art-historical periodical, the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte founded and still under the editorship of Wilhelm Waetzoldt. In 1934 Gall began a revision of the Handbuch der Deutschen Kunstdenkmäler by Georg Dehio planned for ten volumes. Gall remained in Berlin during World War II until the Soviets took control of East Berlin in 1945, when he resigned and move to the western (American) quarter of the city, becoming the head of the Art and Monuments. In 1946 he was named director of the Bavarian Castle commission. Gall became an editor for the Kunstchronik in 1948. He joined Ludwig H. Heydenreich in 1951 as an editor for the project of a general dictionary of art history, Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, founded by Otto Schmitt in 1937. The following year he received the additional position of honorary professor for the history of architecture at the University of Munich. He revised the Handbücher der Kunstgeschichte volume in 1955. Gall continued his revisions for the Dehio volume, but his final volume was issued in 1956, still incomplete. Gall was methodologically a formalist. His dissertation was published the same year as the major manifesto of formalism, Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe (Principles of Art History) by Heinrich Wölfflin, appeared. Gall's use of the terms "calm" and "agitated" (Ruhevoll and Bewegte) for architecture correspond to Wölfflin's categories of painterly and sculpture in the Principles (Fork).
[dissertation:] Neiderrheinische und normännische Architektur in Zeitalter der Frühgotik. Berlin, (published under the same title), 1915; [festschrift] Kühn, Margarete, and Grodecki, eds. Gedenkschrift Ernst Gall. Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1965; Die gotische Baukunst in Frankreich und Deutschland. Handbücher der Kunstgeschichte 2. Leipzig: Klinkhardt & Bierman, 1925; Dome und Klosterkirchen am Rhein. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 1956, English, Cathedrals and Abbey Churches of the Rhine. New York: Abrams, 1963; "Niedersachsen und Westfalen." and "Hessen-Nassau." revisions of volumes 1 and 3 of, Dehio, Georg. Handbuch der deutschen Kunstdenkmäler. Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1935ff; edited, with Schmitt, Otto, and Heydenreich, Ludwig. Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte. Stuttgart, J.B. Metzler, 1937ff.
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. 84, mentioned; 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, pp. 46 mentioned, 48, 51 mentioned; Fork, Christiane. "Gall, Ernst." Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon: zweihundert Porträts deutschsprachiger Autoren aus vier Jahrhunderten. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999, pp. 107-108; Heydenreich, Ludwig. "Ernst Gall." Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte. volume 5. Stuttgart, J. B. Metzler, 1967, p. [ii]; [obituaries:] Kühn, Grete. "Ernst Gall 1888-1958." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 21 no. 2 (1958): 105-106.