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Woermann, Karl

    Full Name: Woermann, Karl

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1844

    Date Died: 1933

    Place Born: Hamburg, Germany

    Place Died: Dresden, Saxony, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): museums (institutions)

    Career(s): directors (administrators) and museum directors


    Dresden Museum director; author of an early general history of art, the first of these works to include primitive cultures. In 1871, Woermann was among the team of art historians (the others including Moritz Thausing, Carl von Lützlow, Adolf von Bayersdorfer, Friedrich Lippmann, Wilhelm Lübke, Bruno Meyer, Alfred Woltmann, G. Malsz and Wilhelm Bode) who convened in Dresden to determine which of two versions of Hans Holbein the younger’s Meyer Madonna was the autograph work. The so-called “Holbein convention,” one of the important events in nineteenth-century art history when many methodical approaches were employed to determined authenticity, concluded that the Darmstadt version was the original. Together Alfred Woltmann, he authored a series of art surveys, beginning with the Geschichte der Malerei (History of Painting) in 1879, of which Woermann wrote the volume on the ancient world. His treatise on art history, Was uns die Kunstgeschichte lehrt (What we learn from Art History), was published in 1894. Udo Kultermann sites Woermann among those Gründerzeit museum directors, along with Wilhelm Bode, Alfred Lichtwark, Woldemar von Seidlitz, and Justus Brinckmann, as responsible for the formation of art history by virtual of their scholarship and interest in museum training.

    Selected Bibliography

    Geschichte der Kunst aller Zeiten und Völker. 3 vols. Leipzig und Vienna: Bibliographisches Institut, 1900; and Woltmann, Alfred. Geschichte der Malerei. Leipzig: E. A. Seemann, 1879ff., English, and Colvin, Sidney. History of Painting. 2 vols. London : C. Kegan Paul, Year: 1880-1887; Was uns die Kunstgeschichte lehrt: einige Bemerkungen über alte, neue und neueste Malerei. Dresden: L. Ehlermann, 1894.


    Jahn, Johannes, ed. Die Kunstwissenschaft der Gegenwart in Selbstdarstellungen. 2 vols. Leipzig: F. Meiner, 1924, pp. 199-227 (“1-29”) includes portrait and signature; Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 373; Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon: zweihundert Porträts deutschsprachiger Autoren aus vier Jahrhunderten. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999, pp. 488-90; Kultermann, Udo. The History of Art History. New York: Abaris, 1993, pp. 138, 145; Lebenserinnerungen eines Achtzigjährigen. 2 vols. Leipzig, Bibliographisches Institut, 1924


    "Woermann, Karl." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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