Skip to content

Seymour, Charles, Jr.

    Full Name: Seymour, Charles, Jr.

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1912

    Date Died: 1977

    Place Born: New Haven, New Haven, CT, USA

    Place Died: New Haven, New Haven, CT, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Renaissance and sculpture (visual works)

    Career(s): educators


    National Gallery of Art curator and Yale University professor of art history; renaissance and sculpture specialist. Seymour’s paternal family comprised many Yale faculty. His father was Charles Seymour (1885-1963), president of Yale 1937-1950. The younger Seymour attended the Choate School and a year at King’s College, Cambridge University, before entering Yale in the class of 1935. At Yale he studied under Marcel Aubert and particularly Henri Focillon. Seymour and fellow student (and future Yale art history faculty Sumner McKnight Crosby) continued study in Paris in 1934 at the Ecole des Chartres and Sorbonne. He returned to Yale to complete his Ph.D. in 1938, writing his dissertation on the cathedral of Notre-Dame of Noyon. The work was selected as the inaugural volume in the Yale History of Art series.

    While an instructor at Yale, Seymour was part of a group (also including Focillon) urging Seymour’s father to create a department of the History of Art (capable of issuing undergraduate degrees) instead of the solely graduate discipline it had been. Seymour joined the new National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. as curator of sculpture in 1939; the following year Yale’s History of Art department was created. During World War II, Seymour served in army intelligence, 1942-1945. After the war he returned to Washington as assistant chief curator. In 1949 he left the Gallery to return to his alma mater as associate professor. He was succeeded at the Gallery by Perry Cott.  In 1954 he was appointed full professor. The following year Yale initiated the Directed Studies program for art history. Seymour was one of the principal faculty here, using his museum experience to frame the course on examining works of art first hand. In 1966 Seymour published the volume on Italian sculpture for the prestigious Pelican History of Art series. He was also instrumental in creating the conservation laboratory at the Yale University Art Gallery. He died at age 65.

    Selected Bibliography

    • [dissertation:] Notre Dame of Noyon in the Twelfth Century. Yale University, 1938, published as, Notre-Dame of Noyon in the Twelfth Century; a Study in the Early Development of Gothic Architecture. Yale Historical Publications: History of Art 1. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1939;
    • Tradition and Experiment in Modern Sculpture. Washington, DC: American University Press, 1949;
    • Michelangelo’s David: A Search for Identity. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburgh Press,1967;
    • Sculpture in Italy: 1400-1500. Pelican History of Art 26. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966;
    • Early Italian Paintings in the Yale University Art Gallery: a Catalogue. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery/Yale University Press, 1970;
    • The Sculpture of Verrocchio. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1971.


    • [obituaries:] Crosby, Sumner M. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 37 no. 1 (Fall 1978): 7;
    • “Charles Seymour Jr. of Yale, 65, Authority on History of Italian Art.” New York Times April 9, 1977. p. 17;
    • Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, pp.15, 89 (cited).


    Charles Seymour, Jr. Collection of European Sculpture, Painting and Architecture Photographs and Research Materials, Yale University,


    "Seymour, Charles, Jr.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: