Skip to content

Roethlisberger, Marcel Georges

    Full Name: Roethlisberger, Marcel Georges

    Other Names:

    • Marcel Roethlisberger

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1929

    Place Born: Zürich, Switzerland

    Home Country/ies: Switzerland

    Subject Area(s): Baroque and Northern European


    Claude Lorrain, Jean Etienne Liotard and northern baroque scholar; professor of art history in the United States and the University of Geneva. Roethlisberger followed the model of many European students, attending lectures throughout Europe in order to shape an intellectual experience. He attended the University of Bern 1948-1950 studying law, economics, and then history of art and music, archaeology, (where a fellow student was Florens Deuchler), then the university of Cologne 1950-1951, focusing on art history and archaeology under Hans Kauffmann, then Paris 1951-1952 (under André Chastel, et al), next to Florence and the lectures of Roberto Longhi, 1952-1953, Pisa with Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, 1953-1954, where he was awarded the (French) state diploma for museum curator, Ecole du Louvre, in 1953. Roethlisberger became a fellow of the British Council at the Courtuald Institute in London under Anthony Blunt 1954-1956. He returned to Bern, writing his doctoral thesis on Jacopo Bellini, under Hans R. Hahnloser. His Ph.D. was granted in 1955 summa cum laude. Roethlisberger taught at Yale University 1956-1960. He was a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1960-1961, completing his book Claude (Gellée) Lorrain. He married the art historian Biancamaria Bianco in 1962, receiving an appointment of assistant professor at University of Toronto the same year. The following year, 1963, Roethlisberger was appointed associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He rose to full professor in 1968. By that year Roethlisberger distinguished himself at one of the major Claude scholars, with his two-volume catalogue raisonné of Claude’s drawings. That year, too, Roethlisberger accepted the Unidel professorship at the University of Delaware. He returned to Switzerland in 1970 and the University of Geneva as professor or art, chairing the department. His colleague, Deuchler, had also returned from the United States to teach at the university. He and Renée Loche wrote the first of their catalogs on Jean Etienne Liotard in 1978. Roethlisberger returned to the United States in 1980 as Senior Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC for that year. He stepped down as chair of the department in Geneva in 1983, holding a series of visiting professorships, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Delaware, 1983; Clark Professor, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown MA, in 1984, and Professor in residence, Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies, University of Maryland, in 1985. Roethlisberger held the Senior Scholar position at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in 1990. His book, Abraham Bloemaert and his Sons appeared in 1993. After an Appleton Eminent Professorship, Florida State University, in 1995, he retired from Geneva in 1998. In retirement he authored with Renée Loche a catalog on the paintings of Liotard. Roethlisberger was known for his connoisseurship. He discovered Claude drawings (one celebrated case at auction in 1996) and authenticated a lost Liotard painting in 2004.

    Selected Bibliography

    Claude Lorrain: The Paintings. 2 vols. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1961; Claude Lorrain: the Drawings. 2 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968; European Drawings from the Kitto Bible: an Exhibition at the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. San Marino, CA: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, 1969; Bartholomäus Breenbergh: Handzeichnungen. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1969; Cavalier Pietro Tempesta and his Time. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 1970; The Claude Lorrain Album in the Norton Simon Inc. Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1971; and Deuchler, Florens , and Luethy, Hans. Schweizer Malerei. Geneva: Skira, 1975, English, Swiss Painting: from the Middle Ages to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century. New York: Rizzoli, 1976; and Loche, Renée. L’opera completa di Liotard. Milan; Rizzoli, 1978; Bartholomeus Breenbergh: the Paintings. New York: de Gruyter, 1981; Im Licht von Claude Lorrain: Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten: Haus der Kunst München. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 1983; Abraham Bloemaert and his Sons: Paintings and Prints. 2 vols. Doornspijk: Davaco, 1993; and Loche, Renée. Liotard. 2 vols. Doornspijk: Davaco, 2008.


    Gage, John. “Professor Michael Kitson.” The Independent (London), August 11, 1998, p. 6; personal correspondence, Marcel Roethlisberger, January 2010.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Roethlisberger, Marcel Georges." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: