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Moore, Charles H.

    Full Name: Moore, Charles H.

    Other Names:

    • Charles Herbert Moore

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1840

    Date Died: 1930

    Place Born: New York, NY, USA

    Place Died: Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), Medieval (European), and sculpture (visual works)


    Medievalist architectural historian; first director of the Fogg [Art] Museum 1896-1909 and first professor of art at Harvard with Charles Eliot Norton. Moore’s father was Charles Moore, a lace dealer, and his mother Jane Maria Berendtson [Benson] (Moore). He grew up in New York City, attending New York public schools. He never attended college. Moore began his career as a landscape painter training with painter Benjamin H. Coe in 1853 in New York. He spent summers painting in the Catskill mountains beginning in 1859, moving their permanently in 1862. Moore helped found the American Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which boasted itself the “Society for the Advancement of Truth in Art” in 1863. He married Mary Jane Tomlinson (d. 1880) in 1865, moving now to Catskill, New York. While in the Berkshires, he most likely met Charles Eliot Norton. Norton recommended Moore as an instructor of freehand drawing in Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School in 1871. Later Norton chose Moore to as part of the college’s new art department in 1874, a move to incorporate the fine arts into Harvard’s liberal arts curriculum. In 1876 Moore took a paid leave of absence to study in Italy with John Ruskin to prepare him for teaching. The two men discussed aesthetics, sketching architecture, and studying old master paintings continuing their instruction in Venice. Moore did not return until 1878, but when he did, he launched into a curriculum which included “Principles of Design in Painting Sculpture and Architecture.” His Fine Arts 1, a combination of practical and theoretical, complemented Norton’s strict historical approach in Fine Arts 2. His wife died in 1880 and Moore married Elizabeth Fisk Hewins the following year. In 1882 he embarked on a publishing career, issuing his Facsimiles or Examples in Delineation Selected from the Masters for the Use of the Student in Drawing. He served as curator of art at Harvard’s William Hayes Fogg Art Museum in 1885. Moore made a second trip to Europe to focus on French architecture. Along the way, Moore clearly read the work of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The book resulting from this trip, published in 1890, was The Development and Character of Gothic Architecture. It made his reputation as an architectural historian and teacher. Moore received honorary memberships in the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Harvard awarded him an honorary A.M. degree, promoting him to assistant professor in 1891. In 1896 Moore rose to (full) professor and named the first director of the Fogg Museum of Art. At the Museum, he focused on the educational collections. A second art history The Character of Renaissance Architecture, was published in 1905, as a companion to his Gothic study. He retired emeritus in 1909 and was succeeded at the Fogg by Edward Waldo Forbes. In retirement, Moore moved to Hartley Wintney in Hampshire, England. His final architectural treatise, The Mediaeval Church Architecture of England, was published in 1912, as well as a volume on the philosopher Swedenborg. His papers are held in Houghton Library, Harvard University. Moore left a promising career as a painter to become among the first art historians at an academic institution in the United States. His Development and Character of Gothic Architecture was one of the early required texts to be listed in the course catalog for the art history classes of Princeton University.

    Selected Bibliography

    Catalogue with Notes of Studies and Facsimiles from Examples of the Works of Florence and Venice: belonging to the Fine Arts Department of Harvard University. Cambridge, MA: John Wilson and Son, 1878; Developement & Character of Gothic Architecture. New York: Macmillan & Co., 1890; Character of Renaissance Architecture. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905; The Mediæval Church Architecture of England. New York: The Macmillam Company, 1912.


    Mather, Frank Jewett, Jr. Charles Herbert Moore, Landscape Painter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957; Gerdts, William H. Art across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710-1920 vol. 1, New York: Abbeville Press, 1990, pp. 160-61; Ferber, Linda S., and Gerdts, William H. The New Path: Ruskin and the American Pre-Raphaelites. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum, 1985; Brooks, Michael W. “New England Gothic: Charles Eliot Norton, Charles H. Moore, and Henry Adams.” Studies in the History of Art 35 (1990): 113-25; “Moore, Charles Herbert.” Who Was Who in American Art 2 (1999): 2316; [obituary:] “Prof. C H. Moore Dies in 90th Year.” New York Times. February 18, 1930, p. 20.


    "Moore, Charles H.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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