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The Story of Art

  • Kind of Object:
    Book
  • Name:
    The Story of Art

    Word Count: 4

  • Creator (Person):
    Ernst H. Gombrich
  • Year Start:
    1950
  • Year End:
    1950
  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Phaidon Press Ltd, 1 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London SW7.

  • Language:
    English
  • City:
    London (GB)
  • Introduction:

    The Story of Art by the émigré art historian Ernst H. Gombrich was published in 1950 with Phaidon Press. The book is a comprehensive and accessible introduction to visual culture.

    Word Count: 29

  • Content:

    The art historian Ernst H. (Hans Josef) Gombrich (1909–2001) published The Story of Art in 1950 with Phaidon Press. Gombrich already excelled as an author for young readers in Vienna. In 1936 he published Weltgeschichte von der Urzeit bis zur Gegenwart (Gombrich 1936), a world history, from the development of the solar system to the end of the First World War. It was not until 2005 that the English edition appeared as A Little History of the World, translated in large part by himself (Gombrich 2005). The Story of Art was also intended as a history of art for a young readership (Gombrich/Eribon 1993, 64), but developed into an international bestseller spanning generations.

    The book is considered a comprehensive and accessible introduction to visual culture, and has been translated into many languages and reprinted numerous times – the ninth edition was published in 1959 and the eleventh in 1966. The book is structured chronologically and sketches art history from prehistory to the 20th century in 27 chapters. Especially in the first chapters, Gombrich devotes himself to early history of art in geographical breadth, writing about Islamic art and art from China. Then, from chapter 8 onwards, the focus is more on European artists and art, and in chapter 24 he opens up to art from the USA around 1900. The last chapter ends with “Experimental Art” and includes works by Henri Rousseau, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso, but also pays tribute to Henry Moore, a contemporary British sculptor. In general, the rich number of illustrations is striking – 370 illustrations on 446 pages. The first sentences of the book became particularly famous: “There really is no such thing as art. There are only artists.” (Gombrich 1950, 5) With this, Gombrich committed himself to a history of art which understood art as a product of skill and creativity.

    The Story of Art is not only an enduring and globally successful art history for a broad readership with over six million copies sold (Nyburg 2014, 93). The book is also the result of a collaboration in the emigrant milieu. First, there is the author himself: Ernst H. Gombrich grew up in an art-loving Jewish family in Vienna. Gombrich's mother Leonie Hock was a pianist, a pupil of Anton Bruckner and associated with composers such as Arnold Schönberg and Gustav Mahler. Ernst Gombrich studied art history in Vienna and received his doctorate under Julius von Schlosser with a thesis on the architect Giulio Romano (Gombrich/Eribon 1993, 40–42). With his fellow student Ernst Kris, Gombrich worked on the form and function of caricatures - research that both continued even in English exile (Kris/Gombrich 1940; Rose 2016). Gombrich came to London in 1936, where he worked at the Warburg Library, later the Warburg Institute, a research institution transferred from Hamburg to London in 1933, whose relocation was organised by Fritz Saxl and Gertrud Bing. During the war, Gombrich participated in monitoring German radio broadcasts for the BBC World Service (Gombrich/Eribon 1993, 58). From 1956 to 1976, Ernst Gombrich was director of the Warburg Institute; a biography published in numerous new editions in 1970 paid tribute to Aby Warburg, the founder of the Warburg Library of Cultural Studies in Hamburg (Gombrich 1970).

    The Story of Art was published by Phaidon Verlag, founded in Vienna in 1923 by Béla Horovitz and Ludwig Goldscheider. A deal with the British Stanley Unwin, who “acquired” the publishing house, ensured that the publishers were not expropriated, but were able to re-establish and continue Phaidon in exile in London (Nyburg 2019, 117). In London, the Viennese programme was continued from 1939. Phaidon had published Jacob Burckhardt’s Rubens in Vienna as recently as 1938; in 1939, Phaidon’s London publishing house published Rodin by Sommerville Story; in 1941, Raphael by Wilhelm Suida was published; and in 1945, Philip Hendy’s Giovanni Bellini. After the Second World War, Phaidon published editions in various languages: John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy’s Sienese Quattrocento Painting also appeared in 1947, translated into in German as Quattrocento-Malerei in Siena. Grete Ring’s A Century of French Painting: 1400-1500 was also published simultaneously in a French edition in 1949. Grete Ring was an emigrant who had lived in London since 1938. The emigrant photographer and photo historian Helmut Gernsheim published his book Masterpieces of Victorian Photography (1951) with Phaidon, and Rudolf Wittkower, who emigrated from Germany, was also a Phaidon author: in 1955 he published his book Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the Sculptor of the Roman Baroque here. Phaidon was thus an art book publishing house run by emigrants which provided a publishing home for emigrant authors. Its own history, as well as that of other publishing houses founded by emigrants, such as Thames & Hudson, was the subject of the 2014 book Émigrés. The Transformation of Art Publishing in Britain by Anna Nyburg.

    Word Count: 762

  • Signature Image:
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, cover (Photo: Private Archive).
  • Media:
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, cover without dust jacket (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, first page with dedication by G.B., probably Gertrud Bing from the Warburg Institute in London and a colleague of Gombrich (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive). It reads “On 29 June 1950 from your friends from the Warburg Institute G.B.”.
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, title page with Velazquez’s Las Meninas (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950: Introduction by the author (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, p. 10–11: comparing Géricault’s Horce-racing at Epsom with a photo from 1948 (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, p. 20–21: reproductions of cave paintings in Altamira and Font de Gaume (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, p. 102–103: looking eastwards (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
    Ernst Gombrich’s The Story of Art, published with Phaidon Press in 1950, p. 440: reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Portrait of Joseph Brunner, 1909, and Marc Chagall’s The Musician, 1912–13 (Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen, photo: Private Archive).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Gombrich, Ernst. Weltgeschichte von der Urzeit bis zur Gegenwart. Steyrermühl Verlag, 1936.

    Gombrich, E.H. [Ernst H.]. The Story of Art. Phaidon, 1950.

    Gombrich, Ernst H. Aby Warburg. An Intellectual Biography. Warburg Institute, 1970.

    Gombrich, E.H. [Ernst H.]. A Little History of the World. Translated by Caroline Mustill, Yale University Press, 2005.

    Gombrich, Ernst, and Didier Eribon. Looking for Answers. Conversations on Art and Science. Harry N. Abrams, 1993.

    Holman, Valerie. “Art Books Against the Odds: Phaidon in England 1938–1950.” Visual Resources. An international journal on images and their uses, vol. 15, no. 3, 1999, pp. 311–329. Taylor & Francis Online, doi: doi.org/10.1080/01973762.1999.9658513. Accessed 7 March 2021.

    Kris, Ernst, and Ernst H. Gombrich. Caricature (The King Penguin Books, 5). The King Penguin Books, 1940.

    Lepsky, Klaus. Ernst H. Gombrich: Theorie und Methode. Böhlau, 1991.

    Nyburg, Anna. Émigrés. The Transformation of Art Publishing in Britain. Phaidon, 2014.

    Nyburg, Anna. “Émigré Art Publishers.” Insiders Outsiders. Refugees from Nazi Europe and their Contribution to British Visual Culture, edited by Monica Bohm-Duchen, Lund Humphries, 2019, pp. 115–119.

    Rose, Louis. Psychology, art, and antifascism: Ernst Kris, E. H. Gombrich, and the politics of caricature. Yale University Press, 2016.

    Rosen, Valeska von. “Ernst H. Gombrich (1909–2001).” Klassiker der Kunstgeschichte, 2: Von Panofsky bis Greenberg, edited by Ulrich Pfisterer, Beck, 2008, pp. 175–185.

    Word Count: 198

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Metropolis:
    London
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "The Story of Art." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/1470/object/5140-11259846, last modified: 12-05-2021.
  • A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939
    Book

    Six years after her arrival in London, the photographer Lucia Moholy published her book A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939, on the occasion of the centenary of photography.

    Word Count: 27

    Lucia Moholy. A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939. Penguin Books, 1939, cover (METROMOD Archive).
    Lucia Moholy. A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939. Penguin Books, 1939, bastard title with Daumier’s quote “Je suis de mon temps” (METROMOD Archive).Lucia Moholy. A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939. Penguin Books, 1939, title page (METROMOD Archive).Lucia Moholy. A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939. Penguin Books, 1939, page with daguerreotypes (METROMOD Archive).Lucia Moholy. A Hundred Years of Photography 1839–1939. Penguin Books, 1939, page with a multiple flash photograph of the golfer Bobby Jones with a driver (METROMOD Archive).
    London
    Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things
    Booklet

    Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things is a booklet written in 1946 by the emigrated architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner with the aim of aesthetic education and teacher training.

    Word Count: 26

    Nikolaus Pevsner. Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things. An attempt to establish criteria by which the aesthetic qualities of design can be judged. Council for Visual Education (C.V.E.), 1946, cover (METROMOD Archive).
    Nikolaus Pevsner. Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things. An attempt to establish criteria by which the aesthetic qualities of design can be judged. Council for Visual Education (C.V.E.), 1946, title page (METROMOD Archive).Nikolaus Pevsner. Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things. An attempt to establish criteria by which the aesthetic qualities of design can be judged. Council for Visual Education (C.V.E.), 1946, pp. 2–3: Foreword by Herbert Read. (METROMOD Archive).Nikolaus Pevsner. Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things. An attempt to establish criteria by which the aesthetic qualities of design can be judged. Council for Visual Education (C.V.E.), 1946, pp. 8–9 (METROMOD Archive).Nikolaus Pevsner. Visual Pleasures from Everyday Things. An attempt to establish criteria by which the aesthetic qualities of design can be judged. Council for Visual Education (C.V.E.), 1946, pp. 14–15 (METROMOD Archive).
    London
    Thames & Hudson
    Publishing House

    The emigrants Eva Feuchtwang (later Eva Neurath) and Walter Neurath founded the Thames & Hudson publishing house in 1949, which published art history books, photo books and collection catalogues.

    Word Count: 28

    Julian Huxley and Wolf Suschitzky. Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames & Hudson, 1956, bastard title (METROMOD Archive).
    Julian Huxley and Wolf Suschitzky. Kingdom of the Beasts. Thames & Hudson, 1956, pp. 157–158 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky)
    London
    The Warburg Institute
    Research Institute

    The Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg in Hamburg achieved a new presence in London after 1933 under the name The Warburg Institute as a research institution with a library and photo archive.

    Word Count: 29

    The Warburg Institute, Reading Room, Imperial Institute Building, London, c. 1952 (© The Warburg Institute).
    The Warburg Institute, Reading Room, Thames House, London, c. 1934/36 (© The Warburg Institute).The Warburg Institute, Reading Room, Woburn Square, London, c. 1958 (© The Warburg Institute).
    London
    Focus on Architecture and Sculpture
    Book

    Focus on Architecture and Sculpture by émigré photographer Helmut Gernsheim brought together his work and experience as a photographer for the National Buildings Record (NBR).

    Word Count: 25

    Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, cover (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).
    Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 1 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 2 and 3 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 4 and 5 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 6 and 7 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 14 and 15 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 52 and 53 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 54a, 54b and 55 (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).Helmut Gernsheim. Focus on Architecture and Sculpture. An Original Approach to the Photography of Architecture and Sculpture. The Fountain Press, 1949, pl. 60a and 60b (Archive Burcu Dogramaci).
    London