Skip to content

Gere, John Arthur

    Full Name: Gere, John Arthur Giles

    Other Names:

    • J.A. Gere

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 07 October 1921

    Date Died: 01 January 1995

    Place Born: UK

    Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Career(s): art historians

    Institution(s): British Museum


    British Museum curator and connoisseur of sixteenth-century Italian drawings. Gere was born to Edward Arnold, a British patent examiner, and Catherina Giles (Gere). His artistic interests and passion as a collector were strongly influenced by his upbringing. His father’s half-brother Charles March Gere (1869-1957), and two sisters were artists at the Birmingham school and his mother was associated with the Vorticist circle of Wyndham Lewis. Initially beginning his higher education at Winchester, he left in 1939 and joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps––but he was forced to leave due to health complications. He entered Oxford University in 1940 receiving a BA in 1943 in English at Balliol. The Rosetti scholar John Bryson (1896-1976), who encouraged his scholarly interests in the Pre-Raphaelites. After finishing at Oxford, he volunteered at the Tate Museum until he quarreled with the cantankerous director, John Rothenstein.

    In 1946, Gere was appointed an Assistant Keeper in the Department of Prints and Drawings under the supervision of the Keeper Edward “Teddy” Croft-Murray (1907-1980). He made his debut as an author in 1948 when he co-authored with Robin Ironside (1912-1965) on the “Pre-Raphaelite Painters,” published in Alphabet and Image and the same year an article in the The Burlington Magazine. His preliminary work revolved assisting Keepers A. E. Popham and Philip Pouncey on preparing for the revision and publication of the catalog of the early Italian drawings in the British Museum. Gere and Pouncey further collaborated to compile more catalogs of the department’s drawings and published Raphael and his Circle in 1962. These catalogs were commended for their original judgment, precision, and concision, which set new standards in the connoisseurship of their fields. His early education and success with the catalog inspired his original research on the drawings of Taddeo Zuccaro. In the 1960s, he published a series of articles in The Burlington Magazine to the catalog. and selection of the exhibition reviews Disegui degli Zuccari at the Uffizi 1966, Dessius de Taddeo et Federico Zuccaro at the Louvre in 1969, and the publication of Taddeo Zuccaro: His development studied in his drawings, also in the same year. Being the first to define a corpus of work by Taddeo, Gere’s convictions provided a study to distinguish Taddeo’s compositions from those by Federico, his previously better-known brother, and being a key moment in sixteenth-century art.  Gere also assisted Virginia Surtees with her catalogue raisonné on Rossetti which appeared in 1971.

    After serving his role as Assistant Keeper for twenty years, he became Keeper in 1973 at the retirement of Croft-Murray. He was responsible for the acquisition in the field of Italian drawings was of the highest quality (Mantegna, Bronzino, and Sebastiano del Piombo among them). Keeper Nicholas Turner (b. 1947) and Gere collaborated to assemble the great exhibitions of drawings by Michelangelo in 1976, and by Raphael in 1983. Gere retired from the Museum in 1981, but he continued to supplement his research and collaborate with colleagues. He worked once more with Pouncey to co-author Artists Working in Rome c. 1550 to 1640 in 1983. He continued to collect and curate art until his death in 1995.

    Selected Bibliography

    • Pre-Raphaelite Drawings. Alphabet and Image 6. 1948.;and Ironside, Robin. Pre-Raphaelite Painters. London: Phaidon Press, 1948;
    • British Museum A. E Popham Philip Pouncey Johannes Wilde John A Gere and Nicholas Turner. 1950. Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. London​​;
    • Mostra Di Disegni Degli Zuccari : (Taddeo E Federico Zuccari E Raffaellino Da Reggio). Florence: L.S. Olschki. 1996;
    • Taddeo Zuccaro His Development Studied in His Drawings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969;
    • and Nicholas Turner. Drawings by Raphael: From the Royal Library the Ashmolean the British Museum Chatsworth and Other English Collections.  London: Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum, 1983;.
    • The Study of Italian Drawings: The Contribution of Philip Pouncey. London: Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum Press, 1994;
    • and Nicholas Turner.  Pre-Raphaelite Drawings in the British Museum. London:  Trustees of the British Museum, British Museum Press, 1994;


    • Gere, J. A. “Taddeo Zuccaro as a Designer for Maiolica.” The Burlington Magazine 105, no. 724 (1963): 306–304;
    • Penny, Nicholas. “John Gere (1921-95).” The Burlington Magazine 137, no. 1106 (1995): 319–21;
    • White Christopher. “John Arthur Giles Gere 1921-1995.” Proceedings of the British Academy 90,Lectures and Memoirs:1995 1996.

    Contributors: Doriz Concepcion


    Doriz Concepcion. "Gere, John Arthur." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: