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Giehlow, Karl

    Full Name: Giehlow, Johann Carl Friedrich

    Other Names:

    • Johann Carl Friedrich Giehlow
    • Carl Giehlow

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 25 May 1863

    Date Died: 03 March 1913

    Place Born: Oppeln, Saxony, Germany

    Place Died: Auteuil, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Netherlandish and Northern Renaissance


    Dürer scholar. Giehlow was born to Theodor Giehlow (d. before 1899), a senior civil servant, and Ludovica Saltzmann (Giehlow) (d. after 1897). Giehlow attended a gymnasium in Kiel, receiving an abitur in 1892. He studied law in Munich and Berlin from 1893 working in the civil service in the latter city. In 1895 he left his position as a government assessor. He completed degrees in philosophy and art history in Berlin under Valerian von Loga, Anton Springer, and the classicist Christian Belger (1847-1903),(art history under Herman Grimm). He studied art history further in Vienna. In 1898 he received his Ph.D., writing a dissertation on the Prayer Book of Maximilian I. He settled in Vienna, apparently as a private scholar. His work on the triumphal gate and the Prayer Book of Emperor Maximilian closely examined the symbolism and the circle of artists contributing to the works. In later years he examined how the Renaissance viewed Egyptian hieroglyphics and their symbolism from a humanistic purview. His work on the pictorial language and allegory of the court humanists was considered definitive. This hitherto almost unknown field of research of a humanistic imagery, which enriched the medieval symbolism with elements from Egyptian hieroglyphics and Neoplatonism, owes to G. its rediscovery and first scientific presentation. G.’s works, always based on extensive source studies, secure him a place of honor in the scholarly literature on the Renaissance period and make him a chief exponent of that iconographic-iconological method which has since developed into a discipline of its own within the framework of art history.

    Giehlow taught the university in Vienna for most of his career. An iconographer, he published an influential study on the meaning of Albrecht Dürer’s etching.Melencolia I beginning in 1903. He died in 1913 in Auteuil, France, today a part of modern Paris.

    Giehlow’s research examined the mythic and pictorial world of the age of Emperor Maximilian I. His research was later completed and amended by Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl. Panofsky mentioned Giehlow in his memoir on Wilhelm Vöge. Giehlow’s accomplishment, according to Panofsky, was, like of Émile Mâle, one “by and large in the realm of interpretation of content.

    Selected Bibliography

    • [dissertation:] Kritische Darstellung der Forschungen über die Entstehungsgeschichte des Gebetbuchs Kaisers Maximilian I.  Berlin,. Universität. Dissertationen, 16, no. 6. Berlin: E. Ebering,1898,;
    • “Dürers Stich ‘Melencolia I’ und der maximilianische Humanistenkreis,” Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, 1903 and 1904;
    • Kaiser Maximilians I. Gebetbuch, Vienna: [self-published]. 1907;
    • “Die Hieroglyphenkunde des Humanismus in der Allegorie der Renaissance.” (Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen der allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses 32, pt. 1.  Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1915;
    • [Melancholy study completed:] Panofsky, Erwin and Saxl, Fritz.  Dürers ‘Melencolia I’,eine quellen- und typengeschichtliche Untersuchung. Berlin, B.G. Teubner, 1923;


    Erwin Panofsky. “Wilhelm Vöge: A Biographical Memoir.” Art Journal 28 no. 1 (Fall 1968): 27-28, mentioned.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Giehlow, Karl." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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