Director of the collection of antique sculpture and vases at the Berlin Museum (1889-?) and also director of the antiquarium of the Berlin Museum (1896-?). Kekulé was the nephew of the famous organic chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz (1829-1896). Kekulé studied at the universities of Erlangen under Karl Friedrichs, and at Berlin under Eduard Gerhard, Johann Gustav Droysen (1808-1884), and August Böckh (1785-1867). His time in Rome with Enrico Brunn was most influential for his later writing. In 1870 he succeeded Otto Jahn, who had died prematurely, at the University in Bonn. His 1879 habilitation was written under Adolf Furtwängler. While teaching at Bonn one of his students was the later art historian Aby M. Warburg. In 1889 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany personally requested Kekulé to be the antiquities director of the collections in Berlin. In the following year he succeeded Carl Robert at the university in Berlin which he held jointly with the directorship. It was then that the emperor allowed the "von Stradonitz" designation. Kekulé greatly increased the size of the imperial collections through a combination of astute buying and commissioning excavations, assisted in the latter by Theodor Wiegand. His students included Hermann Ullmann and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1931), whose tradition they maintained. Kekulé has been termed the founder of modern iconology (Langlotz). He eschewed Jahn's "monumental philology" and classification for a methodology closer to Brunn mixed with an esthetic sensitivity akin to Johann Joachim Winckelmann. His connoisseurship, more than Winckelmann's, was rooted in scholarship. Kekulé was a prominent lecturer though his writings are tinged with what today appear as superficial comments.
über die Entstehung der Götterideale der grieschischen Kunst. Stuttgart: Verlag von W. Spemann,1877; Die Gruppe des Künstlers Menelaos in Villa Ludovisi: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der griechischen Kunst. Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1870. Bronzestatuette eines kämpfenden Galliers in den Königlichen Museen. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1909; Echelos und Basile, attisches Relief aus Rhodos in den Königlichen Museen. Berlin, G. Reimer, 1905; Die griechische Skulptur. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1906; über copien einer frauenstatue aus der zeit des Phidias. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1897; über ein Bildnis der Perikles in den königlichen Museen. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1901.
Schiering, W. "Kekulé von Stradonitz, Reinhard." Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988, pp. 73-74; Calder, William, III. "Kekulé von Stradonitz, Reinhard (1839-1911)." Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 632-33; Langlotz, E. 150 Jahre Reinische Friedich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn 1818-1968. Bonn: Friedich-Wilhelms-Universität, 1968, pp. 227-32.