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Lehmann, Karl Leo Heinrich

    Full Name: Lehmann, Karl Leo Heinrich

    Other Names:

    • Karl Lehmann

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1894

    Date Died: 1960

    Place Born: Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany

    Place Died: Basel, Basle-Town, Switzerland

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Ancient Greek (culture or style), architecture (object genre), Classical, Greek sculpture styles, and sculpture (visual works)

    Career(s): educators


    Architectural and sculpture historian of classical Greece and Rome; specialist bronze statuary; NYU professor, 1935-1960. Lehmann was raised Lutheran from cultured parents were of Jewish ancestry. His father was a Professor of Law. Lehmann studied under Ferdinand Noack at Tübingen, under Heinrich Wölfflin in Munich, as well as Göttingen in the years directly before World War I. During the war he served in the Red Cross for Germany and as an interpreter for the Turkish navy, the latter giving him access to much of Asia Minor. He received his Ph.D. in classical Archaeology from the University of Berlin in 1922 under Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1931). He was an Assistant Director of the Institute of German Archaeology in Rome before teaching as a Privatdozent in Berlin. In 1925 he moved to Heidelberg, teaching there until an appointment as professor of archaeology and director of the archaeological museum, 1929-1933, in Münster, Germany. In 1933 he was discharged from service by the Nazis early in 1933 because of his Jewish heritage and liberal politics. He spent two years as an independent scholar in Italy before immigrating to the United States where he joined New York University as a Professor at the Institute for Fine Arts in 1935. Recruited by the famous director, Walter W. S. Cook. Lehmann also founded the Archaeological Research Fund at NYU. He continued his archaeological work in the Mediterranean, including the excavations of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the island of Samothrace begun in 1938 and continued after World War II. He became a United States citizen in 1944. Throughout his American career, he lectured and sat on dissertation committees. He was engaged in editing the Samothrace publications for the Bollingen Foundation in Switzerland at the time of his death. His students included Phyllis Pray Bober. Bober wrote, “He was not merely a spellbinding lecturer, but a challenging interlocutor who brought broadly ranging knowledge of ancient thought and deed to bear on fresh questions to replace canonical views that confined artistic contributions by Rome to architectural structure, historical relief and portraiture.”…”Lehmann’s life-long research into the art of the common people, the vernacular as it were, of classical expression, led him to discover the beginnings of Late Antique style in public monuments of the Roman State much earlier than others had detected its elements, combatting ideas of influence from the East that were current at the time.” James S. Ackerman described Lehmann as “a revered teacher…a towering intellect…When I graduated from Yale, I felt there was no [other] choice but NYU for graduate work.”

    Selected Bibliography

    Die antiken Hafenanlagen des Mittelmeeres: Beiträge zur Geschichte des Städtebaues im Altertum. Leipzig: Dieterich, 1923; Die Trajanssäule; ein römisches Kunstwerk zu Beginn der Spätantike. 2 vols. Berlin: W. de Gruyter & Co., 1926; and Kluge, Kurt. Die antike Großbronzen. 3 vols. Berlin: W. de Gruyter & Co., 1927; Der Soziale Gedanke in der deutschen Dichtung. Leipzig: Teubner, 1928; Plinio il giovane, lettere scelte con commento archeologico. 1936; and Noack, Ferdinand. Baugeschichtliche untersuchungen am stadtrand von Pompeiji. Berlin: W. de Gruyter & Co., 1936; Dionysiac Sarcophagi in Baltimore. New York: New York University Press and Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1942; “The Dome of Heaven.” Art Bulletin 27 (1945): 1-27; Thomas Jefferson, American Humanist. New York: Macmillan, 1947; Samothrace: a Guide to the Excavations and the Museum. New York: Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Press, 1955; edited, with Lehmann, Phyllis Williams. Samothrace: Excavations Conducted by the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. 11 vols (in many parts). New York: Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1958 ff.


    Bober, Phillis Pray. “Foreward.” Essays in Memory of Karl Lehmann. Marsayas Supplement 1. New York: Institute of Fine Arts, 1964, pp. v-vi; 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, pp. 66, 67, 81 mentioned; 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. 71 mentioned; Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 262-263; Lehmann, Phyllis Williams. “Karl Lehmann.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 669-70; Bober, Phyllis Pray. A Life of Learning. Charles Homer Haskins Lecture. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 1995, p.8; Medwid, Linda M. The Makers of Classical Archaeology: A Reference Work. New York: Humanity Books, 2000 pp. 181-183; James S. Ackermann, personal correspondence, February 2011.


    "Lehmann, Karl Leo Heinrich." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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