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Gassier, Pierre

    Full Name: Gassier, Pierre

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 01 September 1915

    Date Died: 28 May 2000

    Place Born: Étampes, Île-de-France, France

    Place Died: Marbella, Málaga, Andalusia, Spain

    Home Country/ies: France and Spain

    Subject Area(s): painting (visual works) and Spanish (culture or style)


    Art Historian whose research centered primarily on Francisco Goya. Gassier was born in 1915 in Étampes outside Paris. After attending the Lycée Henri-IV and the Sorbonne, he was appointed professor of French literature at the French Institute in Barcelona 1941, later moving to Madrid. Gassier’s involvement with the publication of Drawings by Goya at the Prado Museum in 1947, prefaced by André Malraux, would establish his reputation as a specialist on Francisco Goya’s work (Delcroix).

    Gassier returned to France in 1957 and remained there until 1968 when he was appointed cultural attaché at the French embassy in Greece. Shortly afterwards, in 1971, Gassier was appointed cultural advisor to the French embassy in Italy. In the same year, Gassier published The Life and Work of Francisco Goya in collaboration with Juliet Wilson. The book, which would earn its authors international recognition, explores the evolution of Goya’s work over the course of his life. Through subtle readings of the images, Gassier and Wilson demonstrated how Goya’s work explored contemporary issues from a range of perspectives, examining what the author’s describe as “the many-sided expression of an idea or theme.”

    Between 1973 and 1975 Gassier published a two-volume work, The Drawings of Goya, which explores the artist’s work in much greater detail than his previous survey. Volume I, The Complete Albums (1970), focuses on the final thirty years of the artist’s life during which he produced numerous sketchbooks including the series that would form the basis for his Caprichos. Volume II, The Sketches, Studies and Individual Drawings (1975), looks at the artist’s preparatory drawings.

    In 1975, Gassier was elected ordinary professor of art history at the University of Neuchâtel. In Switzerland he went on to produce two more books, both of which extended beyond his earlier concentration on Goya. In Léopold Robert, he argued that the nineteenth century painter’s suicide was the result of mental instability, exacerbated by the death of his brother. The monograph was awarded the prize for Most Beautiful Swiss Book in 1983. In the same year he also published a study of the early career of French artist Henri Manguin, Manguin Parmi Les Fauves.

    Selected Bibliography

    • Goya: biographical and critical study. New York: Skira, 1955;
    • with Juliet Wilson. The life and complete work of Francisco Goya: with a catalogue raisonné of the paintings, drawings and engravings. New York: Reynal, 1971;
    • Drawings: the complete albums. New York: Praeger; London: Thames and Hudson, 1973;
    • Goya: A witness of his times. Secaucus, N.J.: Chartwell Books, 1983;
    • The drawings of Goya: the sketches, studies and individual drawings. New York: Harper and Row, 1975;
    • Léopold Robert. Neuchâtel: Ides et Calendes, 1983;
    • Manguin parmi les Fauves. Martigny: Fondation Pierre Gianadda, 1983.


    • Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art; de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986: 443;
    • Ceron, Mercedes. “Goya.” Print Quarterly, 33 (3), 2016: 313-315;
    • Delcroix, Olivier. “Disparition; Pierre Gassier”. Le Figaro. 02 November 2000. Accessed Aug 20, 2021;
    • Mayor, A. Hyatt. Review of Francisco Goya. Drawings. The Complete Albums by Pierre by Pierre Gassier. Master Drawings, vol. 12, no. 3 (Autumn, 1974): 285-286;
    • Paulson, Ronald. Review of The Drawings of Goya: Vol. I, The Complete Albums by Pierre Gassier: The Drawings of Goya: Vol. II, The Sketches, Studies and Individual Drawings by Pierre Gassier. The Georgia Review, vol. 30, No. 4 (Winter 1976): 1010-1015;
    • Whiteley, J. J. L. Review of Léopold Robert by Pierre Gassier. The Burlington Magazine, vol. 126, no. 975 (1984): 364.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Shane Morrissy


    Lee Sorensen and Shane Morrissy. "Gassier, Pierre." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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