Skip to content

Heydenreich, Ludwig H.

    Image Credit: Google Arts and Culture

    Full Name: Heydenreich, Ludwig H.

    Other Names:

    • Ludwig H. Heydenreich

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 23 March 1903

    Date Died: 14 September 1978

    Place Born: Leipzig, Saxony, Germany

    Place Died: Munich, Bavaria, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), Italian (culture or style), Italian Renaissance-Baroque styles, Renaissance, and sculpture (visual works)


    Director of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich; historian of Italian renaissance architecture. Heydenreich grew up in Dresden in one of the city’s prominent military families. He studied at Dresden’s military academy and was expected, like his father, to join the officer class. But Germany’s defeat in World War I forced the academy’s closure and Heydenreich was forced to look for other areas of interest. He initially studied art history at the university in Berlin, but quickly changed to Hamburg in 1919 in order study with Erwin Panofsky. Although Heydenreich wrote his dissertation under Panofsky (Die Sakralbau-Studien Leonardo da Vincis, 1929), he never adopted the iconographic methodology of his teacher in his own research. He remained in Hamburg, writing his Habilitationschrift in 1934 and teaching until 1937. Among his students during this period was the architectural historian Wolfgang Lotz. For most of the 1930s, Heydenreich published on Leonardo. However, a number of important articles on Michelozzo and Brunelleschi in 1930 and 1931 show his ability to apply stylistic criteria to renaissance architecture. That year Heydenreich accepted a lecturer position in Berlin offered by Wilhelm Pinder. While other art historians and intellectuals were fleeing Nazi control over German life, Heydenreich advanced rapidly. He was appointed to a chair at the University of Berlin in 1941 and director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut (Florence) in 1943 after its director was killed in an bombing raid. It was Heydenreich as director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut who moved the institute’s library to Milan as the Allies advanced north through Italy in 1944. After the war, Heydenreich helped found the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich, a research center devoted to art history in the former NSDAP (Nazi) headquarters. In 1947 he became its first director, holding the position until 1970, when Willibald Sauerländer succeeded him. In another effort to rebuild post-war German art history, Heydenreich took over the publication of the Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, begun in 1937 by Otto Schmitt. Together with Ernst Gall and others, he edited volumes 3-6 of the dictionary. He published continually after his retirement, including his most popular book, the Pelican History of Art’s Architecture in Italy, 1400 to 1600 (1974) co-written with his former student, Lotz. Heydenreich wrote the first portion of the book (the period 1400-1500), which was issued as a separate volume in 1996. He continued to publish actively until his death. In 2012, his office files at the Zentralinstitut revealed the long-thought-lost typewritten habilitation manuscript of Panofsky. Heydenreich’s methodology, as characterized by Paul Davies, was “empirical and positivist.” Especially in Heydenreich’s later work, he focuses on the final product itself, paying less attention to the design process or proportional systems. He had little interest in theoretical issues; his writings often gloss over abstract issues of architecture. To his credit, perhaps, he was equally unaffected by the fashions of German architectural theory of his time. Heydenreich never adopted Wölfflin’s anthropomorphic categories of Renaissance or Baroque. He likewise ignored much of the well-known work on architectural principles by Rudolf Wittkower.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation] Die Sakralbau-Studien Leonardo da Vincis: Untersuchungen zum Thema: Leonardo da Vinci als Architekt. Engelsdorf-Leipzig: C. u. M. Vogel, 1929; “Die Tribuna der SS Annunziata in Florenz.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 3 (July 1930): 268-85; “Spätwerke Brunelleschis.” Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 52, no1, (1931): 1-28; and Dibner, Bern; Reti, Ladislao. Leonardo the Inventor. New York: McGraw Hill, 1980; Leonardo: The Last Supper. New York, Viking Press, 1974; ; Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte. vols. 3, 4, 5, 6. Stuttgart, J. B. Metzler, 1937ff.; and Lotz, Wolfgang. Architecture in Italy: 1400-1600. Pelican History of Art 38. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1974, revised and published separately as, Architecture in Italy: 1400-1500. Revised by Paul Davies. Pelican History of Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.


    Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art; de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 435; Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon: zweihundert Porträts deutschsprachiger Autoren aus vier Jahrhunderten. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999, pp. 181-183; Braunfels Esche, Sigrid. “In Memoriam: L. H. Heydenreich.” Raccolta Vinciana 22 (1987): 585-90; Davies, Paul. “Introduction.” Architecture in Italy: 1400-1500. Revised by Paul Davies. Pelican History of Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995, pp. 1-5.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Heydenreich, Ludwig H.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: