- Rhys W. Williams
(b Pesitza, Austria–Hungary, June 10, 1867; d Vevey, Switzerland, June 5, 1935).
German art historian. He studied engineering in Munich, Zurich and Liège, before moving to Berlin in 1890, where he attended the university and became involved in artistic circles. In 1894 he co-founded the periodical Pan, becoming its art editor and financial manager, though he was dismissed in April 1895 by wealthy and conservative patrons unhappy with the emphasis given to French art, after publication of the first issue. He moved in 1895 to Paris, where he had already met avant-garde artists, and in 1898 founded the periodical Dekorative Kunst, in which he championed Art Nouveau; he opened an Art Nouveau gallery, La Maison Moderne, in Paris in 1899, which closed in 1903. Returning to Berlin in 1904, he published his most significant contribution to art history, Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst, in which he was concerned to define the specifically artistic (‘das Bildhafte’) in isolation from socio-economic or historical factors, to trace its development in the 19th century, and to offer a basis for a new aesthetic: 19th-century painting from Delacroix to the Post-Impressionists was presented as a series of solutions to formal problems. In further controversial essays on Arnold Böcklin and Adolf Friedrich Erdmann Menzel, Meier-Graefe questioned prevailing academic and nationalistic judgements. Subsequently he published studies devoted to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Courbet, and to the French Impressionists. His ...