Schmitt, Otto

Full Name: 
Schmitt, Otto
Date Born: 
1890
Date Died: 
1951
Place Born: 
Mainz, Germany
Place Died: 
Ulm, Germany
Home Country: 
Germany
Gender: 
male
Overview: 

Historian of medieval German sculpture; founder of the Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte (1937). Schmitt studied art history in Gießen, writing his dissertation under Christian Rauch on the south portal of Worms cathedral. He moved to Frankfurt (am Main) and taught, first at the privatdozent level in 1919 and then as professor at the university there. At Frankfurt he collaborated with Georg Swarzenski on a catalog of sculpture at the Städelschen Institut (Meisterwerk der Bildhauerkunst) in the early 1920s. His book Gotische Skulpturen des Freiburger Münsters appeared in 1926, examining the relationship of French Gothic sculpture to German, earlier outlined in the 1903 thesis of Karl Franck-Oberaspach on the Strassbourg cathedral. In 1927, Schmitt began a general dictionary of art history project, the Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte while at Greifswald. The first published volume appeared ten years later. He enlisted the help of Ernst Gall and Ludwig H. Heydenreich as editors of the Reallexikon in 1951. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Ulm at age 61. Schmitt's specialty was the sculpture of the upper Rhein of the late middle ages.

Selected Bibliography: 
[complete bibliography in:] Form und Inhalt, kunstgeschichtliche Studien; Otto Schmitt zum 60. Geburtstag am 13. Dezember 1950. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer 1951(?); [dissertation:] Das Südportal des Wormser Domes. Giessen, 1918, published in Mainzer Zeitschrift 12/13 (1917/18): 115 ff; Barock-Plastik. Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Verlags-Anstalt, 1924; Oberrheinische Plastik im ausgehenden Mittelalter: ein Auswahl. Freiburg im Breisgau: Urban-Verlag, 1924; and Swarzenski, Georg, eds. Meisterwerke der Bildhauerkunst in frankfurter Privatbesitz. Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Kunstverein, 1921 (vol. 1), 1924, (vol. 2); founded and edited, Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte. Stuttgart, J.B. Metzler, 1937ff.; Gotische Skulpturen des Freiburger Münsters. Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Verlags-Anstalt, 1926.
Sources: 
Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon: zweihundert Porträts deutschsprachiger Autoren aus vier Jahrhunderten. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999, pp. 363-5; Gall, Ernst. "Otto Schmitt." Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte. Volume 3. Stuttgart, J.B. Metzler, 1954, p. [ii].