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Hülsen, Christian Karl Friedrich

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Hülsen, Christian Karl Friedrich

    Other Names:

    • Christian Hülsen

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 29 November 1858

    Date Died: 19 January 1935

    Place Born: Berlin, Germany

    Place Died: Florence, Tuscany, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), Classical, Medieval (European), and sculpture (visual works)


    Architectural historian of the classical era who later changed to medieval and Renaissance. Hülsen studied classical philology, ancient history and archaeology with Ernst Curtius, Johann Gustav Droysen (1808-1884), Ernst W. E. Hübner (1834-1901), Johannes Vahlen (1830-1911), and Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903). His dissertation, on Ovid, was directed by Mommsen and Hübner. Through Mommsen, he was awarded a stipend from the DAI (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut or German Archaeological Institute) to travel to Rome where he assisted in the corpus of Latin inscriptions from the city of Rome. In 1904 he published his Das Forum Romanum, an important and widely translated work on the Roman Forum. As a topographical scholar he gained equal fame for another volume, this one on Roman topography, appearing as volume three of Topographie der Stadt Rom in Altertum, in 1907. Hülsen’s knowledge of architecture was not as sound as other disciplines, however; his conclusions in the Topographie often belie the Beaux-Arts assumptions of the architects who advised him (Richardson). Despite these accomplishments and his service as second secretary to the DAI in Rome, 1887-1909, he was twice denied the appointment of first secretary. In disillusionment, he left the Institute to live in Florence, where he changed focus to medieval and Renaissance art. His collaboration with Wladimir de Grüneisen on the paintings for Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome resulted in a significant monograph (1911). In Florence he published studies on the historic drawings of Rome by Marten van Heemskerck (in collaboration with the Vienese art historian Hermann Egger), as well as Guilio San Gallo, Giovanni Antonio Dosio and other artists. In 1927 his study on the churches of medieval Rome, Le Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo, appeared. Like his other books in the many disparate fields, it represented significant original scholarship. He remained in Florence the remainder of his life except for five years as professor at the University of Heidelberg. He was the recipient of honorary degrees from Oxford, Erlangen, and New York. Hülsen’s counterpart and rival in Roman topographic studies was Rodolfo Lanciani, an engineer who’s knowledge of architecture was better than Hülsen’s. His Roman Forum book, distinctive by its deep jade buckram cover, was a staple of libraries and used books stores for years.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation] Varronianae doctrinae quaenam in Ovidii fastis vestigia extent. Berlin: Goetsch und Mann, 1880; Das Forum romanum; rekonstruktion nach angaben und mit erläuterunger. Rome: Spithöversche, 1892; and Kiepert, H. Formae Urbis Romae antiquae. 1896, English, The Forum and the Palatine. New York: A. Bruderhausen, 1927; Das Forum Romanum: seine Geschichte und seine Denkmäler. Rome: Loescher, 1905; and Jordan, Henri. Topographie der Stadt Rom im Alterthum. volume I, part 3. Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1907; “Le monument payen et la topographie du lieu.” in, Sainte-Marie-Antique, le caractère et le style des peintures du VIe au XIIIe siècle. Rome: M. Bretschneider, 1911, pp. 61-70; and Egger, Hermann. Die Skizzenbücher des Marten van Heemskerck. 2 vols. Berlin: J. Bard, 1912-1916; Römischen Antikengärten des XVI. Jahrhunderts, 1917; ed., with Fiechter, Ernst. Römische Gebälke. Toebelmann-Stiftung der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1923; Le chiese di Roma nel medio evo, cataloghi ed appvnti. Florence: L.S. Olschki, 1927; edited, Dosio, Giovanni Antonio. Das Skizzenbuch des Giovannantonio Dosio im Staatlichen Kupferstichkabinett zu Berlin. Berlin: H. Keller, 1933.


    Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 126-127; Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 598-600; Richardson, Lawrence, Jr. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992, p. xxv.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Hülsen, Christian Karl Friedrich." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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