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Warner, Langdon

    Full Name: Warner, Langdon

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1881

    Date Died: 1955

    Place Born: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK

    Place Died: Cambridge, Middlesex, MA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Ancient Chinese, Asian, Asuka, Buddhism, Chinese (culture or style), East Asian, Indian (South Asian), Japanese (culture or style), Late Nara, Nara (Japanese culture or style), and South Asian

    Career(s): curators


    Fogg curator of Asian art. Warner attended various New England preparatory schools before studying at Harvard College where he graduated in 1903. He traveled to Asia in 1904 as a member of the Pumpelly-Carnegie expedition to Russian Turkestan. In 1906 he was appointed assistant curator at the Boston Museum of Fine Art and traveled to Japan for the first time the same year. Between 1909 and 1913 he served as associate curator for the Museum. In 1912 began as an instructor for Harvard University. In 1913 he traveled to Europe and Asia to ascertain the possibility of creating an institute for Charles Freer. During 1915 he made another art-buying trip, this time for the Cleveland Museum of Art. He was appointed director of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art in September 1917. Shortly afterward, he was made a U. S. Vice Consul, journeying to Siberia and Japan to make confidential reports. He was replaced at the Museum of Edward Hamilton Bell. In 1923 he left the Pennsylvania Museum to join the Fogg Museum. There he headed the first and second expeditions to China, including the first trip to the Tung-huang (1923). The Fogg’s sculpture from the Thousand Buddha Caves resulted from that trip. The second expedition in 1925 was to Kansu Province and the Gobi. In the early 1930s he was assigned to acquire pieces for the nascent Nelson Gallery of Art in Kansas City. In 1939 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of California. During World War II, Warner led a group of scholars prevailing upon military leaders not bomb the former Japanese capitals of Nara and Kyoto. He is credited with saving the priceless artwork in those cities. After the war he served as an expert consultant to the Arts and Monuments Section of the United States Occupation headquarters. He retired from the Fogg in 1950. His Lowell Lectures delivered after his retirement became The Enduring Art of Japan (1952). After his death, the citizens of Kyoto erected a shrine in his honor and in Nara at tablet was placed in the Horyuji Buddhist temple. His wife was Lorraine d’Oremieulx Roosevelt (d. 1965). Among the students was the Asianist art historian and Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Laurence Sickman. His negotiations with the Aluminum Company of America led to the allocation of funds for the Harvard-Yenching Institute.

    Selected Bibliography

    Studies in Chinese Art and Some Indian Influences: Lectures Delivered in Connection with the International Exhibition of Chinese Art at the Royal Academy of Arts. London: The India Society, 1938; Buddhist Wall-Paintings: a Study of a Ninth-Century Grotto at Wan Fo hsia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1938; The Craft of the Japanese Sculptor. New York: Japan Society of New York, 1936; The Enduring Art of Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952; Japanese Sculpture of the Suiko Period. New Haven: Yale University Press for the Cleveland Museum and Art, 1923; Japanese Sculpture of the Tempyo Period: Masterpieces of the Eighth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1959; Japanese Sculpture of the Tempyo Period: Masterpieces of the Eighth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1964; The Long Old Road in China. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1926.


    “Late Curator Honored: Widow of Dr. Warner of Harvard Receives Japanese Award.” The New York Times, September 23, 1955, p. 19; Obituary. The New York Times, June 10, 1955, p. 25; Ars Orientalis 2 (1957): 633-7; Art News 54 (November 1955): 68; Rowland, Benjamin. Artibus Asiae 18: 2 (1955): 183-4.


    "Warner, Langdon." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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