Archaeologist and scholar of Greek geometric pottery; namesake of the Greek Hirschfeld painter. Hirschfeld was born to a Jewish merchant family in Pyrtiz, Pomerania, then part of the Germany. He studied under Ernst Curtius in Berlin as well as in Tübingen and Leipzig. His dissertation, written under Curtius in 1870, was titled "De Titulis Statuariorum Sculptorumque Græcorum Capita Duo Priora," and expanded and issued as Tituli Statuariorum Sculptorumque Græcorum cum Prolegomenis, 1871. That same year he secured a traveler's stipend from the DAI (Deutsches archäogisches Institut or German Archaeological Institute) which he used to travel to Greece, Italy and Asia Minor (through 1877). During these years he published important writing on Etruscan art (Marzabotto, and the Certosa in Bologna) and geometric pottery. In 1872 Hirschfeld published an article on a monumental pedestal krater (Athens, National Archaeological Museum 990), discovered in the Dipylon cemetery. In 1875 he was a participant in the first German excavations of Olympia and again in 1877. At the time of the discovery of the Hermes of Praxiteles, Hirschfeld was directing the dig and personally lifted the statue out of the ground. He was instrumental in the discovery of the Temple of Zeus including many of its friezes, and the statue of Nike by Paionios. Hirschfeld subsequently traveled to London and Paris before his habilitation. In 1877 Hirschfeld converted to Christianity, and the following year appointed assistant professor of archeology at the university in Königsberg. Two years later he was full professor. A promising career was cut short by an untimely death in 1895. The important krater he excavated at the Dipylon is named after him (Hirschfeld Krater) as is the painter of that and other geometric vases. Another example is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Oscar Gustav Hirschfeld
Pyritz, Pomerania; [present day Poland]
Königsberg, Germany; [formerly Prussia]; [present day Kaliningrad, Russia]
[dissertation:] De Titulis Statuariorum Sculptorumque Græcorum Capita Duo Priora. Berlin, (Friedrich Wilhelm University) 1870, expanded and reissued as, Tituli Statuariorum Sculptorumque Græcorum cum Prolegomenis. Berlin: 1871;"Athena und Marsyas." Programm zum Winckelmannsfest der archäologischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin 32 (1872); Knidos, Halikarnassos and Branchidae. The Collection of Ancient Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum, part 4. Oxford: Clarendon, 1874-1916; "Die Entwickelung des Stadtbildes." Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 25, 1890, [also issued as a special reprint], Berlin, 1890; Die Felsenreliefs in Kleinasien und das Volk der Hitteter: zweiter Beitrag zur Kunstgeschichte Kleinasiens. Berlin: Kœnigl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1887; Heinrich Schliemann: Ein Nachruf. Königsberg, [s. n.], 1891; "über die griechischen Grabschriften, welche Geldstrafen anordnen." Königsberger Studien 1 (1887): 83-144; [Hirschfeld's first publication of ANM 990]. Annali dell'Istituto di corrispondenza archeologica 44 (1872): 142 ff.
Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 88-89; Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 592-93; Singer, Isidore, and Frankfurter, Salomon. "Hirschfeld, Gustav." Jewish Encyclopedia; Curtius, Ernst. "Zur Erinnerung an Gustav Hirschfeld." Deutsche Rundschau 84 (1895): 377.