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Gardner, Ernest A.

    Image Credit: ArtUK

    Full Name: Gardner, Ernest A.

    Other Names:

    • Ernest Arthur Gardner

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1862

    Date Died: 1939

    Place Born: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Place Died: Maidenhead, Windsor and Maidenhead, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

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


    Archaeologist, classical art historian and editor of the Journal of Hellenic Studies,1897-1932. Gardner was the son of Thomas Gardner and Ann Pearse. He studied initially at the City of London School under the Semitic scholar Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926) and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, beginning in 1880, graduating in 1884, and joining the college as a fellow from 1885 (to 1894). Beginning in 1885, he furthered the excavations at Naucratis (Egypt) for the Egypt Exploration Fund (1885-6), begun by Sir Flinders Petrie (1853-1942). This gained him entrance as the first student at the newly established British School at Athens under Francis Cranmer Penrose in 1886. Gardner’s earliest publications began with the chapters on the inscriptions of Naucratis I and Naucratis II appeared between 1886-1888. He was appointed the Craven student for Cambridge in 1887, which he held until 1890, studying in Athens with Oxford Craven fellow David Hogarth (1862-1927). In 1887, too, Gardner was appointed director of the British School, marrying Mary Wilson (d. 1936). The work of Cambridge historian Francis H. H. Guillemard (1852-1933) established the Cyprus Exploration Fund which sponsored the archaeological digs at Old Paphos and Salamis, Egypt, under Gardner, Hogarth and Monty James. With the renewal of his appointment as Director of the School, Gardner excavated Megalopolis in the Peloponnese. The School thrived under his direction, producing among its first students the archaeologist Sir John Myres (1869-1954) and the social anthropologist and mythologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941). In 1895 he resigned his directorship, becoming Yates professor of archaeology at the University of London the following year. There Gardner founded a school of classical archaeology at University College. His first publication on art, a Handbook of Greek Sculpture, appeared in 1897,quickly becoming a standard. In 1897, too, Gardner became an editor for the Journal of Hellenic Studies, issuing his Catalogue of the Greek Vases in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge the same year. Ancient Athens was published in 1902. In 1905 he co-wrote the second volume of Introduction to Greek Epigraphy by Ernest Stewart Roberts (1847-1912) with Roberts. Another book on Greek sculpture, Six Greek Sculptors and Religion and Art in Ancient Greece both appeared in 1910. A revised and enlarged edition of Handbook of Greek Sculpture was issued in 1915. During World War I he was commissioned as a lieutenant-commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, serving as an intelligence officer in Greece between 1915 to 1917 and then in London until 1919. His final art history text, Art of Greece, appeared in 1925. In 1927 he became Yates lecturer at University College. He relinquished his editorship of the Journal of Hellenic Studies in 1932. In 1933, Gardner’s successful vademecum for Mediterranean travelers, Greece and the Aegean, was published. Gardner retired 1929 from his chair responsibilities, continuing to lecture until 1933. He died at his home in Maidenhead, Berkshire and is buried in Stubbings churchyard there. His students included Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler in whose memoirs Gardner appears. His brother was the Oxford art historian Percy Gardner. His papers are held at University College, London.

    Selected Bibliography

    The Art of Greece. London: “The Studio”, 1925; Excavations at Megalopolis, 1890-1891. London: Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, 1892; A Handbook of Greek Sculpture. New York: Macmillan, 1897; Poet and Artist in Greece. London: Duckworth, 1933; Religion and Art in Ancient Greece. London: Harper, 1910; Six Greek Sculptors. London: Duckworth, 1910; edited, Middleton, John H. Plans and Drawings of Athenian Buildings. London: Macmillan, 1900.


    Toynbee, Jocelyn M. C. and Major, Henry D. A., revised Gill, David. “Gardner, Ernest Arthur (1862-1939).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Waterhouse, Helen. The British School at Athens: the First Hundred Years. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986; Wheeler, Mortimer. Still Digging New York:Dutton, 1956; Hawkes, J. Mortimer Wheeler: Adventurer in Archaeology. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982; [obituary:]


    "Gardner, Ernest A.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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