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Liebreich, Aenne

    Full Name: Liebreich, Aenne

    Other Names:

    • Annette Liebreich

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 02 July 1899

    Date Died: 1939-1940

    Place Born: Bocholt, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

    Place Died: Paris, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: France and Germany

    Subject Area(s): textile art (visual works)

    Institution(s): Université de Paris (Sorbonne)


    Assistant professor; specialist in medieval Burgundian sculpture, particularly Claus Sluter, as well as medieval painting and illumination and costume studies. Liebreich was born in Bocholt, Germany in 1899 to Max Liebreich, a manufacturer, and an undocumented mother. Liebreich earned her abitur in 1921. From 1921 to 1925 she studied art history, history, and archaeology in Munich, Berlin, and Bonn under Paul Clemen and Adolph Goldschmidt. Liebreich earned her doctorate in 1925 at Bonn under Clemen. From 1926 to 1927, she trained at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, where she compiled the catalog of medieval miniatures and organized exhibitions in the Kupferstichkabinett. Liebreich became an assistant at the Art History Institute of the University of Kiel in 1927, working under Arthur Haseloff. Her work consisted of maintaining the library and photo and slide collection, preparing lectures, and supervising students. Her dissertation, Kostümgeschichtliche Studien zur kölnischen Malerei des 14. Jahrhunderts (Costume-Historical Studies on Cologne Painting of the 14th Century), was published in the Jahrbuch der Kunstwissenschaft in 1928. Liebreich, being Jewish, was dismissed from her position on June 30, 1933, for being “non-Aryan” under the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. She subsequently emigrated and moved to France with the assistance of the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (now the Council for At-Risk Academics). Her habilitation, a monograph on Claus Sluters, was scheduled for the 1933 summer term; however, it was obstructed by the Nazi racial laws. From 1933 to 1936, Liebreich worked at the medieval department of the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie of the Sorbonne under Henri Focillon. Her work included research activity and lecturing on German Gothic architecture. Liebreich reworked her habilitation into a PhD thesis at the Université de Paris (Sorbonne) and earned another doctorate in 1936, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Her book Claus Sluter was published in 1936. Lacking a permanent appointment, she attempted to find new scholarly activity, including with the SPSL in London. She participated in the 16th Congrès de l’Association bourguignonne des sociétés savantes in June 1939 and in the International Congress of Art Historians in London in July 1939. Liebreich died by suicide in the winter of 1939–40.

    Liebreich’s habilitation work on Claus Sluter was well-received by its readers, among them Martin Wackernagel and Karl Koetschau. Henri Focillon also praised her work on Burgundy and fourteenth- and fifteenth-century sculpture, in particular her analysis of the Calvaire de Champmol.


    Selected Bibliography

    • “Der mittelrheinische Altar im Erzbischöflichen Museum zu Utrecht.” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 3, no. 4 (1927): 130–140;
    • [dissertation:] “Kostümgeschichtliche Studien zur kölnischen Malerei des 14. Jahrhunderts.” Bonn, 1910, published, Jahrbuch der Kunstwissenschaft 5 (1928): 65–104, 129–156;
    • and David, Henri: “Le calvaire de Champmol et l’art de Sluter.” Bulletin Monumental 92, no. 4 (1933): 419–467;
    • Claus Sluter. Brussels: Dietrich, 1936;
    • “L’Annonciation d’Aix-en-Provence.” Gazette des beaux-arts 19 (1938): 63–76.


    • Lange, Barbara. “Aenne Liebreich (1899–1939/40): Dr. phil. – Habilitation unerwünscht!” In Kunstgeschichte in Kiel: 100 Jahre Kunsthistorisches Institut der Christian-Albrechts-Universität, 1893-1993. Edited by Hans-Dieter Nägelke, 45–51. Kiel: Rektorat der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, 1994;
    • Lange, Barbara. “Aenne Liebreich: Facetten einer Hochschulkarriere in den zwanziger und dreißiger Jahren.” Kritische Berichte 22, no. 4 (1994): 22–34;
    • 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. 424–26.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Lindsay Dial


    Lee Sorensen and Lindsay Dial. "Liebreich, Aenne." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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