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Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Stephen Hill

(Margaret Lowthian)

(b Washington, Co. Durham, July 14, 1868; d Baghdad, 11/July 12, 1926).

English archaeologist and architectural historian. The first woman to achieve a first-class honours in modern history at Oxford University, she travelled widely in Europe, Japan and especially the Middle East in the 1890s, achieving fluency in a number of European languages as well as in Persian, Turkish and Arabic. She developed an interest in archaeology and architecture that was reflected in an authoritative set of articles on the Early Byzantine churches of Syria and southern Turkey, based on her travels in 1905. Her first major travel book, The Desert and the Sown, contains a mixture of travellers’ tales and archaeological information, as does her Amurath to Amurath. Between 1905 and 1914 she made archaeological studies of the Early Byzantine and Early Islamic monuments of Turkey, Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In 1905 and 1907 she surveyed Binbirkilise with Sir William Ramsay; their book, The Thousand and One Churches, remains the authoritative account of this important site. The architectural recording by survey and photography at Binbirkilise was carried out by Bell and is a lasting monument in its own right. Bell’s interest in Anatolia was inspired by Josef Strzygowski and his book ...

Article

(b London, Feb 26, 1905; d off Stornaway, Feb 24, 1941).

British writer and traveller. His travels in Greece in 1925–7 resulted in two books, The Station and The Byzantine Achievement, in which he presented readers brought up on the culture of Classical antiquity with a novel view of the importance of the civilization of Byzantium and the seminal influence of its art on the later development of European painting. In The Birth of Western Painting he developed this line of thought with a reassessment of El Greco as the ‘last and greatest flower of Byzantine genius’. His best-known book is The Road to Oxiana, a record of travels through Persia and Afghanistan in 1933–4 in search of the origins of Islamic architecture and culture. He contributed a conspectus of Timurid architecture and photographs taken on his journeys to the Survey of Persian Art. Although his views were often coloured by personal enthusiasm and prejudices (for example his hatred of the historical writings of Edward Gibbon) a surprising number of his insights into Byzantine and Islamic culture have been confirmed by later scholarship, and he played a major role in bringing these cultures to the attention of educated readers. He was also a founder-member of the ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Lölling, July 27, 1878; d Vienna, July 8, 1961).

Austrian historian of Byzantine, Islamic and Indian art. He studied art history and archaeology at the universities of Vienna and Graz and in 1902 completed his doctorate at Graz under Josef Strzygowski and Wilhelm Gurlitt, a study of the paintings in a manuscript of Dioskurides’ De materia medica (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. med. gr. 1) copied for the Byzantine princess Juliana Anicia before ad 512. After military service (1902–3), Diez pursued further research in Rome and Istanbul and worked in Vienna as a volunteer (1905–7) at the Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie. From 1908 to 1911 he worked in Berlin at the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum with Max Jacob Friedländer, Wilhelm Bode and Friedrich Sarre. He was then appointed lecturer at the University of Vienna. From 1912 to 1914 he made trips to Iran, India, Egypt and Anatolia, which led to articles on Islamic art and architecture and ...