Kurt Badt




art historian. independent scholar.

Country of origin



The son of a Berlin banker, Badt studied art history and philosophy first at the universities of Berlin and Munich and then in Freiburg, where he was a student of Wilhelm Vöge. Among his fellow students was the young Erwin Panofsky. Badt completed his doctoral dissertation on Andrea Solario in 1914. He started his career as an assistant at the Kunsthalle Bremen, but most of his life he was an independent scholar teaching privately, as his family was wealthy and he did not need an academic job in order to earn a living. According to Alfons Rosenberg, he lived the life of a Renaissance humanist. In 1939 he left Germany gaining a research position at the newly founded Warburg Institute in London. He returned to Germany in 1950, where he became a German citizen in 1952 and helped to reorganize the university system. His writings include studies on Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Eugène Delacroix, Nicolas Poussin, Jan Vermeer, John Constable, Paul Cézanne, Raphael, Vincent van Gogh, Paolo Veronese, Ernst Barlach and attacks on the methodology of the "second Vienna school" of art history dominated by Hans Sedlmayr. He considered "masterpieces" to be the only works of art worth studying. Badt radically separated works of art from the deeds in history: the first are what artists have in mind, their works interest and currently attract the viewer as such, whereas the historical deeds intend effects and are related to their consequences and therefore tend to be absorbed by them. Furthermore, Badt explained his new fundamental approach to interpretation with the difference between historical action and artistic making: he differentiated the artistic work process from the distinct plans and designs, seeing it in each stage to be identical with the work as a draft. Therefore, he was able to understand and explain the finished work out of its work process. He did not see the artistic process as a mere fabrication technique, but as a method making visible to our general understanding the essence of what is to be represented

historian's relations

Erwin Panofsky Raphael Humboldt University of Berlin Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Ernst Barlach John Constable Eug�ne Delacroix Paul C�zanne Johannes Vermeer Nicolas Poussin Andrea Solari Wilhelm Lehmbruck Paolo Veronese University of Freiburg University of London Alfons Rosenberg Wilhelm V�ge University of Vienna Warburg Institute Kunsthalle Bremen Hans Sedlmayr

Main works

Badt, K. (1941). Andrea Solario: Sein Leben und sein Werke: Ein Beitrag zur Kunstgeschichte der Lombardei. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Freiburg

Badt, K. (1943, October 30). Cézanne's Watercolour Technique. The Burlington Magazine, 83, 246–248

Badt, K. (1946). Eugène Delacroix Drawings. Oxford

Badt, K. (1950). John Constable's Clouds. London: Routledge & Paul

Badt, K. (1965). The Art of Cézanne. Berkeley: University of California Press

Badt, K. (1959). Raphael's Incendio del Borgo. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 22, 35–59

Badt, K. (1961). Modell und Maler von Jan Vermeer: Probleme der Interpretation, eine Streitschrift gegen Hans Sedlmayr. Köln: DuMont

Badt, K. (1961). Die Farbenlehre Van Goghs. Köln: DuMont Schauberg

Badt, K. (1963). Raumphantasien und Raumillusionen: das Wesen der Plastik. Köln: DuMont Schauberg

Badt, K. (1965). Eugène Delacroix: Werke und Ideale. Köln: DuMont Schauberg

Badt, K. (1968). Kunsttheoretische Versuche: Ausgewählte Aufsätze. Köln: DuMont Schauberg

Badt, K. (1969). Die Kunst des Nicolas Poussin. Köln: DuMont Schauberg

Badt, K. (1969. Ein angebliches Selbstbildnis von Nicolas Poussin. Pantheon, 27, 395–398

Badt, K. (1971). Das Spätwerk Cézannes. Constance: Druckerei und Verlagsanstalt Universitätsverlag

Badt, K. (1971). Ernst Barlach, der Bildhauer. Neumünster: Wachholtz

Badt, K. (1971). Eine Wissenschaftslehre der Kunstgeschichte, Köln: DuMont Schauberg

About the scholar

Gosebruch, M. (Ed.). (1961). Festschrift Kurt Badt zum siebzigsten Geburtstage. Berlin: De Gruyter

Betthausen, P., Feist, P. H., Fork, C., Rührdanz, K. & Zimmer, J. (Eds). (1999). Metzler Kunsthistoriker Lexikon. Stuttgart: Metzler

Wendland, U. (1999). Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Vol. 1, pp. 21-24. München: Saur

Rosenberg A. (1974). In Memory of Dr Kurt Badt (vol. 29, 2, p. 5). AJR Information

Kuhn, R. (2013). Die wahre Schönheit der Dinge: Kurt Badt - ein Leben für die Kunst. Salem: Kulturamt Bodenseekreis

Arnheim R. (2004). Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. (p. 60). Berkeley: The University of California Press

Arnheim R. (1989). Parables of Sun Light: Observations on Psychology, the Arts, and the Rest (p. 106). Berkeley: The University of California Press


Nachlass Kurt Badt