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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 120, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II$
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P. J. Marshall

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263020

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263020.001.0001

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Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich 1909–2001

Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich 1909–2001

(p.173) (p.174) Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich 1909–2001
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 120, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, II

Michael Podro

British Academy

Ernst Gombrich was a prominent art historian in the UK and probably its best known humanist scholar during the last forty years of the 20th century. The status derived from two apparently unrelated features of his work: he wrote deliberately for a wide audience, most obviously in his highly successful Story of Art first published in 1950, while his standing in the academic world, both within and beyond the field of art history, was established by Art and Illusion published in 1960; here he reconstructed some of the basic concepts in which the development of the visual arts could be discussed, introducing into the literature of art history a greatly enriched understanding of perceptual psychology. The two factors — his address to a general audience and his conceptual innovations in Art and Illusion — were intimately related because his use of experiments from the perceptual psychologists, appealing to effects which his readers and lecture audiences could test on themselves, lessened the sense that art was an arcane activity isolated from our everyday world.

Keywords:   art historians, humanist scholars, Story of Art, Art and Illusion, visual arts, perceptual psychology

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