Schefold, Karl

Full Name
Schefold, Karl
Date Born
Date Died
Place Died
Home Country

Archaeologist and classical art historian; professor of classical archaeology at Basel, specialist in Pompeii and Greek art. Schefold graduated from the Eberhard-Ludwigs Gymnasium in Stuttgart. He began classical studies at the university of Tübingen in 1923. He studied philology in St. Petersburg in 1925 where he became acquainted with the work of the philologist Albrecht von Blumenthal (1889-1945). He moved to Jena to study under him between 1926-1928; both were part of the circle of intellectuals around the poet Stefan George. Later he moved to Heidelberg continuing study under Otto Regenbogen (1891-1966). There he met Marianne von den Steinen in 1927, daughter of the prominent Ethnologist, Karl von den Steinen (1855-1929), whom he married. At Heidelberg Schefold also studied under the classical archaeologist Ludwig Curtius, but when Curtius was called to Rome and the Deutsche Archäologische Institut (German Archaeological Institute or DAI), he pursued his degree in archaeology under Paul Jacobsthal at the university in Marburg. His dissertation was on the Greek vases of Kerch (Ukraine) region. After graduating in 1930, he was appointed an assistant at the DAI in Rome and Athens under Curtius. At the DAI in Athens he met the archaeologists Georg Karo and Emil Kunze and worked with the architectural historians Armin von Gerkan and Walther Wrede. He participated on excavations in Israel, Syria and Anatolia under Theodor Wiegand, sponsored by the Berliner Museum in 1932. Between 1932 and 1935 he took part in the excavations at Larisa at Hermos with Ernst Buschor. He was made an assistant at the Athens DAI. In 1935 Schefold was forced by the Nazis to give up his post at the DAI partially through his association with Curtius. He fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he secured a lectureship at the university assisted by Ernst Pfuhl and Peter von der Mühll (1885-1970). There he completed his habilitation on the Scythian animal style and became a university Privatdozent the following year, 1936. When Pfuhl died in 1940, Schefold succeeded him as chair of classical archaeology and Extraordinarius professor in 1942. Although Schefold had published much in his life already, in 1943 his first book, Die Bildnisse der antiken Dichter, Redner und Denker appeared. He declined an offer from Vienna in 1952 and was rewarded in 1953 with an appointment of Ordinarius für Klassische Archäologie at Basle. He and Herbert Cahn and Otto Rubensohn (1867-1964) founded the Vereinigung der Freunde antiker Kunst or Societé des Amis de l'Art Antique and its journal Antike Kunst in 1956. In 1964 Schefold began what became his major series on Greek iconography, Frühgriechische Sagenbilder translated into English as Myth and Legend in Early Greek Art. The set eventually grew into five volumes. He was a major impetus to the creation of the Antikenmuseum in Basel in 1960, which opened in 1966. The following year, he rewrote the volume on Greek art for the revised Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, the original of which had been written by Gerhart Rodenwaldt in 1927. He retired in 1975 and began adding to his series on the legends of the Greek gods and heroes with the second volume being Götter- und Heldensagen der Griechen in der spätarchaischen Kunst, appeared 1978. While attending one of his weekly lectures at the Antikenmuseum, at age 94 he fell, sustaining injuries from which he never recovered. Schefold was the quintessential twentieth-century European scholar: a life devoted to scholarship and teaching. His nearly 700 publications ranged from the scholarly survey to the the detailed archaeological report. He was instrumental in establishing the Swiss archaeological dig in Eritrea. His teaching made the University of Basel one of the best centers of classical archaeology. A number of his Basel students became directors of university institutes and classical-object collections. Schefold was a specialist in ancient Roman art, particularly Pompeii. His methodological approach focused more on interpreting the content of ancient artworks than the traditional analyzing of their form.

Selected Bibliography
[published bibliographies:] Willers, Dietrich. "Herbert A. Cahn achtzigjahrig, Karl Schefold neunzigjahrig. Antike Kunst 38 no. 2 (1995):. 63-7, [1966-1974:] Berger, Ernst, and Ackermann, Hans Christoph, eds. Schefold, Karl. Wort und Bild: Studien zur Gegenwart der Antike. Basel: Archäologischer Verlag/P. von Zabern, 1975, pp. xiv-xv, [1930-1990] Karl Schefold, Bibliographie 1930-1990. Basle: Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, 1990; [dissertation:] Kertscher Vasen. Berlin-Wilmersdorf: H. Keller, 1930; Die Bildnisse der antiken Dichter, Redner und Denker. Basel: B. Schwabe, 1943; and Giuliani, Luca. Götter- und Heldensagen der Griechen in der spätarchaischen Kunst. Munich: Hirmer, 1978, English, Gods and Heroes in Late Archaic Greek Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; Die Religion des Archäologen J. J. Bachofen. Munich: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften/C. H. Beck, 1987; Frühgriechische Sagenbilder. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 1964, English, Myth and Legend in Early Greek Art. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1966; Die Wände Pompejis: topographisches Verzeichnis der Bildmotive. Berlin: DeGruyter, 1957; Pompejanische Malerei, Sinn und Ideengeschichte. Basel: B. Schwabe, 1952.
Schefold, Karl. Die Dichtung als Führerin zur klassischen Kunst: Erinnerungen eines Archäologen. Hamburg: Kovac, 2003; [obituaries:] Stucky, Rolf A. "Wissenschaft als Botschaft: zum Tod von Karl Schefold." Antike Welt 30 no. 4 (1999): 417; Stucky, Rolf A. "Antike Kunst und Vereinigung der Freunde antiker Kunst verlieren einen ihrer Grundervater." Antike Kunst 42 no. 2 (1999): 71-2; Metzger, Henri, and Moret, Jean-Marc Peer "Karl Schefold (26 janvier 1905-16 avril 1999)." Revue Archeologique 5 fasc 2 (1999): 387-90; Universität Basel 2006 Archäologisches Seminar: Karl Schefold.; personal correspondance, Henry von Blumenthal, March 2009.