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Pierson, Allard

    Full Name: Pierson, Allard

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1831

    Date Died: 1896

    Place Born: Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

    Place Died: Zutphen, Gelderland, Netherlands

    Home Country/ies: Netherlands

    Subject Area(s): aesthetics, Indo-European (language family), languages (established systems of communication), and living languages


    Professor of esthetics, art history and modern languages at Amsterdam University, 1877-1895. His parents were adherents of the Protestant Réveil Movement of the Jewish convert Isaac Da Costa (1798-1869). Under the influence of this ethical ideology Pierson began his theology study at Utrecht University in 1849. In 1854 he obtained his doctoral degree with his dissertation, Disquisitio historico-dogmatica de Realismo et Nominalismo. The next ten years he served in Louvain and subsequently in Rotterdam as a minister. When he started to feel out of place in the Reformed Church he quit his position and moved to Germany, where he settled in Rohrbach, near Heidelberg. He eventually became an agnostic, which precipitated his move from theology to esthetics. In 1869 he became privatdozent of theology at Heidelberg University. A year later his appointment as extraordinarius professor of theology followed. In 1874 he returned with his family to the Netherlands and settled in Utrecht. He was appointed professor of esthetics, art history and modern languages in 1877 at Municipal University of Amsterdam, a newly founded university replacing the Athenaeum Illustre school. In his inaugural lecture Pierson paid special attention to the higher values of the discipline of esthetics. He taught mainly Greek and Roman art history. Between 1887 and 1893 he published a number of essays on the history of civilizations: Israel, Hellas, Het Hellenisme, in the series Geestelijke Voorouders (Spiritual Ancestors). In 1895, being in poor health, he was forced to quit his position, and he died nine months later. One of his students, Jan Six, succeeded him at Amsterdam University as extraordinarius professor of esthetics and art history in 1896. When Six died in 1926 he left behind a large collection of books and antiquities. Allard Pierson’s son, the banker J. L. Pierson (1854-1944), established the Allard Pierson Foundation in 1929 with a view to purchasing this collection. The Foundation purchased in addition the large antiquities collection from the Dutch banker Constant Willem Lunsingh Scheurleer. These two collections were the foundation of the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam, which was named after Allard Pierson and opened for the public in 1934.

    Selected Bibliography

    Geestelijke Voorouders: Studiën over onze beschaving. 1. Israel. Haarlem: H. D. Tjeenk Willink, 1887; Hellas. 2 vol. Haarlem: H. D. Tjeenk Willink, 1891-1893; and Kuiper, K. Het Hellenisme. Haarlem: H. D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon, 1913.


    Blok, P. J. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek. 3. Leiden: A. W. Sythoff, 1914, pp. 972-974; Boersema, Karsien Hendrik. Allard Pierson: Eene cultuur-historische studie. [dissertation] Groningen 1924. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1924, pp. 149-151, 414-457; Van der Grinten, H. F. A. M. Nederlandsche aesthetica in de negentiende eeuw. [dissertation] Nijmegen, 1947, [published] Helmond: Boekdrukkerij “Helmond”, 1947, pp. 152-166; Hoogenboom, Annemieke. “De introductie van kunstgeschiedenis aan de Nederlandse universiteiten: de voorgeschiedenis van de leerstoel van Willem Vogelsang.” in Bevers, Ton, et al. De Kunstwereld. Produktie, distributie en receptie in de wereld van kunst en cultuur. Hilversum: Verloren, 1993, pp. 78, 84-85.

    Contributors: Monique Daniels


    Monique Daniels. "Pierson, Allard." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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