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Huth, Hans

    Full Name: Huth, Hans

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1892

    Date Died: 1977

    Place Born: Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

    Place Died: Carmel, CA, USA

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): decorative arts (discipline) and furniture

    Career(s): curators


    Art Institute of Chicago curator, 1944-1963, and furniture specialist. Huth’s parents were Louis Huth (1854-1925), a businessman, and Rosa Hirschfeld (1863-1921). He attended the Reform-Realgymnasium in Naumburg, Germany, before pursuing his college career beginning in 1912. Huth studied art history, archaeology, and philosophy at the Universities at Halle under Wilhelm Waetzoldt and Vienna under Max Dvořák, and Julius Alwin von Schlosser. His studies were interrupted by service in World War I as an artillery officer (Lieutenant); both of his older brothers were killed in war action. In 1918 he returned to the University in Berlin, completing his graduate degree in art history under Adolph Goldschmidt. Huth formed part of a group of graduate students in art history at the University in Berlin, whose numbers included Alexander Dorner, Eberhard Schenk zu Schweinsberg, Erwin Panofsky, and Ida Ledermann. His dissertation, accepted for his Ph.D. in 1922, was on the topic of artistic cooperation in the late Gothic art of Germany. After working as a volunteer at the Bavarian National Museum, he joined the staff of the Royal Palace and Gardens of the Prussian Museums consortium in Berlin in 1925. He married Marta Baumann (b. 1896), an artist and photographer the following year. Huth worked on museum inventories and the gardens as his principal curatorial duties. He added the duties of private librarian for the Hohenzollern family in 1933. Huth’s Jewish parentage (he himself was a declared protestant) forced him out of Nazi Germany in 1937. He first went to France, again acting as librarian for the private collection of the philanthropist James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959) in Versailles. In 1939, he fled again, now to the United States as an exchange professor at Yale University. His wife followed the following year. Through the auspices of NYU art historian Walter W. S. Cook and the art collector Arthur Sachs (1880-1975), he was able to remain in the U.S., taking over for the ailing Georg Swarzenski and his museum course at New York University. He then took a position as advisor for the Historic branch of the National Parks Service, 1939 to 1944, paid by after 1942 by the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation. His assignment was the White House, assembling exhibits on the silver of President James Monroe and presidential china ware. In 1944 he joined the Art Institute of Chicago as an associate curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture. He became a citizen in 1945. Huth researched the catalog for the painting collection. In 1955 he became research curator at the Institute and in 1958 curator of Decorative Arts. His research on the history of nature conservation in the United States, begun at the Parks Service, appeared as a book in 1957. He retired in 1963, settling in Carmel, CA, teaching the museum course for the University of California, Los Angeles between 1966 and 1969.

    Selected Bibliography

    [bibliography:] Himmelheber, Georg. Hans Huth, 1892-1977. Munich: privately printed, 1977, pp. 5-16; [dissertation:] Das Zusammenwirken von Maler und Bildhauer an den plastischen Arbeiten der Spätgotik in Deutschland (1380-1520). Berlin, 1922; Künstler und Werkstatt der Spätgotik. Augsburg: Dr. Filser Verlag, 1923; Observations Concerning the Conservation of Monuments in Europe and America. Washington, DC: U. S. Park Service, 1940; “The American and Nature.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 13, no. 1/2 (1950): 101-149; Nature and the American: Three Centuries of Changing Attitudes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957; Lacquer of the West: the History of a Craft and an Industry, 1550-1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971.


    Himmelheber, Georg. Hans Huth, 1892-1977. Munich: privately printed, 1977, pp. 1-4; 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. 327-332.


    "Huth, Hans." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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