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Hackenbroch, Yvonne

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Hackenbroch, Yvonne

    Other Names:

    • Yvonne Hackenbroch

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 27 April 1912

    Date Died: 07 September 2012

    Place Born: Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany

    Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): costume (mode of fashion), jewelry, and Renaissance

    Career(s): curators


    British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator, Renaissance jewelry specialist. Yvonne Hackenbroch was born into a religious, Jewish middle-class family of intellectual and artistic interests. Her father, Zacharias M. Hackenbroch (1884-1937), was an art dealer and her mother, Clementine Schwarzschild Hackenbroch (1888-1984), a descendent of the art dealer/expert Selig Goldschmidt (1795-1863). The family summered in the Medieval town of Miltenburg. Hackenbroch was fluent in French, English, German (the family languages) as well as Italian by the end of her childhood. Her earliest art writing began when her father and other dealers purchased the Guelph Treasures and she wrote a booklet on the collection. She studied art history at Munich University both as an undergraduate and post graduate under Hans Jantzen and Wilhelm Pinder. The rise of Nazism in Germany made it impossible for Jews to attend universities or hold academic positions; Hackenbroch was the last Jew to gain a doctorate in Munich in December 1936. Her thesis, written under Jantzen, was on the topic of Italian medieval enamels. She traveled to Italy, but at her father’s death in 1937, immigrated to London where her older sister (and later her mother) lived. Hackenbroch took a position with the British Museum during World War II, participating in the excavation and cataloging of the Sutton Hoo treasure. She was assigned as part of the detail to pack up and safely store the Museum’s collection. Following the War, when Viscount Lee donated a Renaissance collection to Canada in appreciation of its assistance in the War, Hackenbroch acted on behalf of the British Government to expertise it in Toronto. Three years later she moved to New York and later became an American citizen. In New York she worked for Judge Irwin Untermyer, a Trustee and benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the donation of his gift of Renaissance objects, Hackenbroch was made a curator cataloging the collection. She published her work in catalogs and articles. In 1979 her book Renaissance Jewellery was published to acclaim, still considered the seminal work on the subject. In New York she regularly hosted in her apartment parties to bring together experts and students. She retired from the Museum and moved to London where her family lived in 1987. The University of Munich honored her with a FestSchrift. In retirement she researched in the libraries of the Warburg Institute, the Courtauld Collection and the British Museum producing a book on Enseignes – Renaissance Hat Jewels in 1996. She died soon after her 100th birthday.

    Selected Bibliography

    [pending] [dissertation:] Italienisches Email des frühen Mittelalers. Munich, 1936, published, 1938.


    Wendland, Ulrike. Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Munich: Saur, 1999, vol. 1, pp. 257-60; [personal correspondence, Alan Philipp, September 2012].


    "Hackenbroch, Yvonne." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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