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Horn, Walter W.

    Image Credit: Monuments Men and Women

    Full Name: Horn, Walter W.

    Other Names:

    • Walter Horn

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1908

    Date Died: 1995

    Place Born: Waldangelloch, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

    Place Died: Berkeley, Alameda, CA, USA

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Medieval (European)


    Medievalist professor of art history at the University of California, Berkeley. Horn was the son of a Karl Horn, a Lutheran minister, and Matilde Peters (Horn). He grew up in Heidelberg, attending the university there, and in Berlin and Hamburg studying art history. He settled on the newly establish art history department there, writing his disseration under Erwin Panofsky. Horn served as a research associate beginning in 1934 at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence. His disseration was on the fascade of the church of St-Gilles, was granted for his Ph.D.from Hamburg in 1937. Horn’s first article, “Das Florentiner Bapisterium,” 1938, disproved a Roman or early Christian date for the famous baptistry, based on a careful study of the building materials. Horn’s strong opposition to National Socialism forced him to emigrate to the United States the same year. He secured an appointment at the University of California, Berkeley as a visiting lecturer in 1939 and assistant professor the following year. He remained there his entire career.He married Ann Binkley Rand. Horn became a U.S. citizen in 1943 and joined the army to fight the Nazis. He became part of General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe. Given his art background, he was transferred to the division to investigate looted treasures in Germany, Third Army Intelligence Center, interviewing Germans responsible for the thefts. He was discharged from the army with the rank of captain in 1946 and returned to Berkeley and was appointed professor in 1948. In 1949. He married a second time to Alberta West Parker, a physician. Together with the classicist Darrell A. Amyx, he helped found the History of Art Department at Berkeley. After participating in a conference on the plan of St. Gall in 1957, he published a 1958 article on the bay system in stone architecture. Horn concluded that stone structures of the Romanesque period owed much to the wood churches of the era which had all disappeared. Horn employed a San Francisco architect and draftsman, Ernst Born, to assist him with his drawings. Beginning in 1960, Born and Horn began collaborating on the measurement of medieval buildings, publishing several studies of related Cistercian buildings in England and France. Born went on to a career in architectural history at Berkeley through Horn’s encouragement. Horn retired emeritus from the University in 1974. In 1979, Horn and Born published a complete study of the plan of St. Gall which received twelve major awards and the AIA medal. His students include W. Eugene Kleinbauer, Jr. (master’s degree). The hallmark of Horn’s methodology was the precise date of medieval buildings by a study of their building techniques and materials. Throughout his career, Horn contended that the plan of St. Gall was a copy of a lost master plan of 816 or 817. This proved controversial and many of Horn’s greatest critics argued that the plan was an ideal plan rather than actual.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Die Fassade von St. Gilles: Eine Untersuchung zur Frage des Antikeneinflusses in der südfranzösischen Kunst des 12. Jahrhunderts. Hamburg, 1937; “Das florentiner Baptisterium.” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz. Sonderdruck, 5 no.2, (December 1938): 99-151; “Romanesque Churches in Florence.” Art Bulletin 25 (1943): 112-321; “On the Origins of the Medieval Bay System.” Journal of the Society of American Historians 17 (1958): 2-23; The Barns of the Abbey Beaulieu at its Granges of great Coxwell and Beaulieu-St. Leonards. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965; “On the Author of the Plan to the Monastic Reform Movement.” in Duft, Johannes, ed. Studien zum St. Galler Klosterplan. St. Gallen: Fehr, 1962; and Born, Ernst. The Plan of St. Gall: A Study of Architecture and Economy of, and Life in a Paradigmatic Carolingian Monastery. 3 vols. Berkeley: University of Califirnia Press, 1979.


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, p. 125 mentioned; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 39, mentioned, pp. 50, 85 mentioned; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene and Mellinkoff, Ruth, and Marrow, James. “Memoir of Walter W. Horn.” Speculum 71 (July 1996): 800-802; 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. 324-326.


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