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Wichert, Fritz

    Full Name: Wichert, Fritz

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1878

    Date Died: 1951

    Place Born: Kastel bei Mainz, Hesse, Germany

    Place Died: Kampen auf Sylt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): German (culture, style, period) and Modern (style or period)


    Director of the Kunsthalle, Mannheim; early exponent of modern art in Germany. Wichert attended various gymnasiums in Prussian cities where his father, Friedrich Wichert, was stationed as an officer in the Prussian military, together with his mother was Fanny Klumpp (Wichert). After receiving an abitur from the Wiesbaden Realgymnasium in 1899, studied art history and Philosophy at Freiburg, Basel (under Heinrich Alfred Schmid), Berlin and eventually again at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, where he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1907. His dissertation, written under Heinrich Wölfflin, was on the topic of representation in medieval Italian art. Wichert joined the Städtische Galerie under its director, Georg Swarzenski. He married a Dutch woman, Margarete Brouwer (d. 1921) in 1908. Wichert contributed reviews to the Frankfurter Zeitung as well. In 1909 he became director of the Kunsthalle in Mannheim, Germany where he set about purchasing French and German art of the 19th and 20th century. Among his famous purchases was the Manet painting “The Execution of Maximilian.” He hired the young Gustav Hartlaub as a curator in 1913. The two mounted many epoch-making exhibitions of modern art and founding an association for art (Freien Bundes zur Einbürgerung der Bildenden Kunst). After the death of his first wife, he married a woman of English/Jewish extraction, Margarete Wetzlar-Coit in 1922. The following year he was called to be director of the Städelschule in Frankfurt, the art school for the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, succeeded at Mannheim by Hartlaub. Wichert transformed the school into the most important arts-and-crafts technical school in Germany (Wendland). Between 1924 and 1930 he was involved with historic preservation for Wiesbaden. With the Nazi’s rise to power in Germany in 1933, Wichert was denounced as a Bolshevik sympathizer for his modern art preferences. Pressures because of his wife’s Jewish background (her father was a baptized British Jew) forced her and his daughter to flee to England. Wichert allowed her to divorce him and assume the name Wickham in order to spare them anti-German prejudice. Wichert himself retired to Keiten auf Sylt in 1934. After the war, Wichert was elected mayor of Kampen auf Sylt. His two marriages resulted in six children.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Darstellung und Wirklichkeit: Ausgewählte Antikenaufnahmen als Spiegel des Sehens. Empfindens und Gestaltens in zwei Jahrhunderten italienischer Kunst. Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgrau, 1907, published, Freiburg: Poppen, 1907; [excerpts:] Howoldt, Jenns E., ed. Fritz Wichert. Mannheim: Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim, 1978.


    Wölfflin, Heinrich. Heinrich Wölfflin, 1864-1945: Autobiographie, Tagebücher und Briefe. Joseph Ganter, ed. Basel: Schwabe & Co., 1982, p. 495; Wendland, Ulrike. Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Munich: Saur, 1999, vol. 2, pp. 762-764; Fath, Manfred, ed. Kunst für alle! der Nachlass Fritz Wichert Stadtarchiv Mannheim [CD]. Mannheim: Brandt, 2003


    "Wichert, Fritz." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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