Richard Krautheimer




professor. art collector.

Country of origin



Byzantinist and baroque scholar, architectural historian; Director of Institute of Fine Art, New York University. Krautheimer, born on July 6th, 1897 in Fürth (Germany), was the son of Nathan Krautheimer (1854-1910) and Martha Landman (1875-1967). His cousin was Ernst Kitzinger (1912-2003) who also became an eminent medievalist art historian. In the First World War Krautheimer saw serious war service (1916-1918). Between 1919-1923 he studied initially at the university in Jura and then successively at the universities in Munich, Berlin, and Marburg. His teachers included Heinrich Wölfflin (1864-1945), Adolph Goldschmidt (1863-1944) and Werner Weisbach (1873-1953). He briefly worked on the state inventory of Churches for Erfurt. In 1924 he married Trude Krautheimer (1902-1987) who subsequently also studied art history and became a noted scholar and collector herself. His dissertation was completed in Halle under Paul Frankl (1878-1962) in 1925 with the title Die Kirchen der Bettelorden in Deutschland (1240-1340). Frankl remained a strong influence to Krautheimer's work throughout his life. In 1927 Krautheimer completed his habilitation under Richard Hamann (1879-1961) in Marburg In 1928 and obtained a teaching position as Privatdozent. The same year, while researching at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, Krautheimer developed the idea for a handbook of Roman churches with a colleague, Rudolf Wittkower (1901-1971); this later to became the Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae. The first volume was published in 1937. The set of five volumes, however, would not be completed until 1980. In 1933 the Krautheimers fled Nazi persecution, leaving Germany for good. Between 1933-1935 Krautheimer still worked in Rome, but the ever-declining political situation for Jews in Axis-alliance countries compelled him and his wife to emigrate to the United States. Krautheimer initially found a position at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. At his request, in 1937 Louisville hired another fleeing art historian, Krautheimer's friend from school days, Justus Bier (1899-1990). The same year Krautheimer moved to Vassar College at the request of Vassar's Art Department chair, Agnes Rindge Claflin (1900-1977). With the United State's entrance into the Second World War, Krautheimer and his wife became naturalized citizens and Richard volunteered for duty as a senior research analyst for the Office of Strategic Services for the years 1942-1944. Here he analyzed aerial photographs of Rome to assist in the protection of historic buildings during bombing. While still at Vassar, he taught (with lecturer status) at New York University (1938-1949). He moved to NYU permanently in 1952 as the Jayne Wrightsman Professor of Fine Arts. In 1971 Krautheimer retired from NYU as Samuel F. B. Morse Professor Emeritus and returned to Rome. Wolfgang Lotz (1912-1981), friend and fellow architectural historian, offered him a residence at the Bibliotheca Hertziana. In April 1994 he received the honorific title civis romanus. Krautheimer died on November 1st, 1994 at 97 at the Palazzo Zuccari. He is buried in the non-catholic cemetery in Rome with his wife. (Information mainly based on the article in the Dictionary of Art Historians)

historian's relations

Marburg Jayne Wrightsman byzantine studies Wolfgang Lotz history of the Jews in Germany Rome United States of America Baroque New York University Germany Paul Frankl Ernst Kitzinger Heinrich Wölfflin Adolph Goldschmidt Humboldt University of Berlin Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Palazzetto Zuccari Rudolf Wittkower World War I medieval studies University of Louisville Erfurt World War II

Main works

Krautheimer, R. (1925). Die Kirchen der Bettelorden in Deutschland, 1240-1340. Cologne: Marcan

Krautheimer, R. (1927). Mittelalterliche Synagogen. Berlin: Frankfurter Verl.-Anst.

Krautheimer, R. (1936). Opicinus de Canistris

Weltbild und Bekenntnisse eines avignonesischen Klerikers des 14. Jahrhunderts. London: The Warburg Institute

Krautheimer, R., Frankl, W., Corbett, S., & Frazer, A. (1937-1980). Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae: The Early Christian Basilicas of Rome (IV-IX Centuries). 5 voll. Vatican City: Pontificio istituto di archeologia cristiana

Krautheimer, R. (1942). The Carolingian Revival of Early Christian Architecture. Art Bulletin 24, 1-38

Krautheimer, R. (1980). Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1308, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Krautheimer, R., & Krautheimer-Hess, T. (1956). Lorenzo Ghiberti. Princeton, Princeton University Press

Krautheimer, R. (1965). Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books

Krautheimer, R. (1971). Ghiberti's Bronze Doors. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Krautheimer, R. (1983). Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press

Krautheimer, R. (1985). The Rome of Alexander VII, 1655-1667. Princeton: Princeton University Press

About the scholar

Richard Krautheimer published an autobiographical essay as an introduction to his Ausgewählte Aufsätze zur europäischen Kunstgeschichte, Cologne 1988, pp. 7-37 (engl. version in: Rome. Tradition, innovation, renewal, Rome 1991, pp. 93-126)

Kliemann, J. (Ed.). (1997). In memoriam Richard Krautheimer: relazioni della giornata di studi, Roma, 20 febbraio 1995, Palazzo dei Conservatori. Rome: Biblioteca Hertziana

Wendland, U. (1999). Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler (vol 1., pp-377-86). Munich: K. G. Saur

Kinney, D. (2002). Richard Krautheimer at the Institute of Fine Arts. Byzantinische Forschungen, 27, 177-195

Francisci Osti, O. (2004). Richard Krautheimer. In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (vol. 62, pp. 772-774). Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana

Maurer, G. (2008). Richard Krautheimer (1887-1994). in U. Pfisterer (Ed.), Klassiker der Kunstgeschichte (vol. 2, pp. 90-106). Munich: Beck

Kinney, D. (2013). Civis romanus: Richard Krautheimer. In S. Ebert-Schifferer (Ed.), 100 Jahre Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte. Die Geschichte des Instituts 1913-2013 (pp. 192-199). Munich: Hirmer


Nachlass Richard Krautheimer