Early systematic scholar Greek vases; one of the founders of the institution later to become the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches archäologisches Institut). He was born in Breslau, Silesia, Prussia which is present-day Wroclaw, Poland. Panofka studied at the university in Berlin, pursuing classical philology, beginning in 1819. In 1823 he traveled to Rome to be part of a group of northern European scholars who studied classical ruins, calling themselves the "Hyperboreans" (Hyperboreisch-römische Gesellschaft). Among them were the painter Otto von Stackelberg (1787-1837), the art writer and collector August Kestner and the classical art historian Eduard Gerhard. In Rome, Panofka's intellect attracted the attention of the antiquities collector, Pierre-Louis-Jean-Casimir, the duc de Blacas d'Aulps (1770-1839). Panofka remained with the duke upon his return to Paris in 1828. When the Hyperborean union transformed itself into the Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica in 1829, Panofka was named secretary for the members in Paris. Panofka journeyed to south Italy where he became engaged with the antiquities of the Museo Nazionale in Naples. There Panofka cataloged the vases of the museum and Gerhard the classical sculpture. Panofka returned to Paris and issued his research on Greek pottery, his Recherches sur les véritables noms des vases grecs. He moved to his native Germany by 1836 to work at the Royal museum in Berlin. His knowledge of classical vases led to an eventual appointment as curator of the vase collection. The final years in Berlin were hard for him. Growing deaf and less and less able to support himself on the wages of the museum, Panofka nevertheless published Terracotten des königlichen Museums zu Berlin in 1842. He died in Berlin at fifty-eight. Subsequent scholarship has shown Panofka to have been overly subjective on his judgment of vases. His publications were criticized by later scholars for their numerous errors. His support of intellectual societies, such as the early Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, [Institut für archäologisches Korrespondenz, in German] in Rome was important for developing the present German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches archäologisches Institut) in 1871, the current intellectual organization for classical research by German scholars.
[letters included in] Raumer, Friedrich von, editor. Antiquarische Briefe. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1851; Terracotten des königlichen Museums zu Berlin. Berlin : G. Reimer, 1842; Die griechischen Eigennamen mit Kalos im Zusammenhang mit dem Bilderschmuck auf bemalten Gefässen. Berlin: Gedruckt in der Druckerei der König. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1850; Recherches sur les véritables noms des vases grecs et sur leurs differens usages, d'après les auteurs et les monumens anciens. Paris: Leipsick, Debure frères [and] M. Weigel, 1829.
Archäologenbildnisse: Porträts und Kurzbiographien von Klassichen Archäologen deutscher Sprache. Reinhard Lullies, ed. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1988: 25-26. Suzanne L. Marchand. Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750-1970. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996: 54-56; "Panofka, Theordor." Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 846.