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Möller, Emil

    Full Name: Möller, Emil

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 20 March 1869

    Date Died: 1955

    Place Born: Hörde, Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Renaissance

    Career(s): art historians and clergy


    Catholic priest and private Leonardo scholar.  Möller grew up in a small town near Dortmund, Germany.  After taking priestly orders in the Catholic church, he worked as a rector of a upper boys’ school.   During his life he held membership in the workers committee for the Dürer Club (Dürersbunde) in Medebach, then in the county of Brilon.  He focused studies on Leonardo da Vinci.

    In the 1930’s Möller discovered definitive documentation of the date of Leonardo’s birth. Möller had uncovered a note written by Leonardo’s grandfather, Antonio, which indicated the exact time and date of Leonardo’s birth.  Möller was to present this research on Leonardo at a conference scheduled the day before World War II was declared;  it never took place.   In the early 1950s Möller met and became the mentor of the young amateur Leonardo scholar Carlo Pedretti.  The younger scholar became devoted to Father Möller and dedicated his first book on Leonardo to him.  When Möller died in 1955, he left his library to Pedretti who later became professor of art history and the University of California, Los Angeles.

    Though a prominent scholar, Möller’s discover of Leonardo’s birth date obscured by World War II. As late as 1956, the Leonardo scholars Costantino Baroni (1905-1956) and Ignazio Calvi (1908-2002) in their book on Leonardo, denied that any substantiated evidence existed for the time and date of Leonardo’s birth (Mandeville).

    Selected Bibliography

    • “Leonardos Bildnis der Cecilia Gallerani in der Galerie des Fürsten Czartoryski in Krakau.”
      Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 9, no. 9 (1916): 313-326;
    • “Zwei Bisher Unerkannte Bildnissde der Mona Lisa.” Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 11, no. 1 (January 1918): 1-14;
    • “Leonardo’s Madonna with the Yarn Winder.” Burlington Magazine 49, no. 281 (August 1926):61-63ff.;
    • “Der geburtstag des Lionardo da Vinci.” Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 60 no. 2  (1939):71-75;
    • “Die Madonna mit der Katze.” Pantheon 25 (February 1940): 47-48;


    • Wer ist’s: Unsere Zeitgenossen. Hermann Degener, ed. 4th ed., 1909, p. 339;
    • Mariani, Pietro. “Carlo Pedretti (1928—2018).”  Burlington Magazine 160, no. 1383: 529-530;

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Möller, Emil." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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