Wilhelm von Bode

Wilhelm von Bode

Bode, Wilhelm von, 1845-1929, German art critic and writer. He abandoned law for art and archaeology in 1869. In 1872 he was made assistant in the Berlin Museum; in 1883, director of the department of Christian sculpture; and in 1890, director of the gallery of paintings. Under his supervision the museum grew into one of the world's greatest collections. From 1905 to 1920 he was director-general of the royal museums of Prussia. His books include Rembrandt (with Hofstede de Groot, 8 vol., 1897-1905; tr. 1906), Great Masters of Dutch and Flemish Painting (tr. 1909), and Florentine Sculptors of the Renaissance (1902, tr. 1909).

Wilhelm von Bode (10 December, 18451 March, 1929) was a German art historian and curator. Born Arnold William Bode in Calvörde, he was ennobled in 1914. He was the creator and first curator of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, now called the Bode Museum in his honor, in 1904.

Bode studied law at the Universities of Göttingen and Berlin, but took an interest in art during his university years. While practicing law in Braunschweig he systematically rearranged the ducal art collections, and visited a number of museums and private collections in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy. After studies in art history in Berlin and Vienna, he received his doctorate from the University of Leipzig in 1870.

In 1871 Bode participated in the so-called "Holbein convention" in Dresden, at which a number of prominent art historians convened to determine which of two versions of Hans Holbein the Younger's Meyer Madonna was the original work.

In 1872 he took a position as an assistant curator of sculpture in the royal museums in Berlin, and became director of the department in 1883. He took over the painting department in 1890, and became general director of Berlin museums in 1905. Many of his efforts were devoted to the new Kaiser Friedrich Museum on Museum Island; his close relationship with the imperial family, his political astuteness, and his relationships with artists and collectors throughout Europe enabled to amass a major collection for the museum. In the 1890s Berlin was far behind Munich and Dresden in its art collections, but with the enthusiastic participation of Wilhelm II, Bode was able to shift the center of the German art world to the capital. He was also in charge of rebuilding the museums of Strasbourg, whose collections had been entirely destroyed in 1870 by prussian bombardements during the Franco-Prussian War. Bode occupied this post from 1889 to 1914.

Bode's writings on a wide variety of topics in art history, particularly Italian Renaissance art, were widely influential, and remain key texts in the field. His autobiography, Mein Leben, was published posthumously in 1930.

Major works

  • Vorderasiatische Knüpfteppiche aus älterer Zeit. Leipzig
  • Geschichte der deutschen Plastik, 1887
  • Rembrandt, 8 volumes, with C. Hofstede de Groot, 1897 - 1905
  • Der Cicerone: Eine Anleitung zum Genuss der Kunstwerke Italiens von Jacob Burckhardt. 1900- 1901
  • Kunst und Kunstgewerbe am Ende des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1901.
  • Florentiner Bildhauer der Renaissance, 1902.
  • Die Meister der holländischen und vlämischen Malerschulen, 1917.
  • Florentiner Bildhauer der Renaissance, 1921.
  • Sandro Botticelli, 1921.
  • Die italienischen Bronzestatuetten der Renaissance, 1922.
  • Die italienische Plastik, 1922.
  • Mein Leben, 2 volumes, 1930.

Please let us knew something about the important action of Wilhelm von Bode in building and organising the network of German basic, medium and high schools of applied arts in '80 years of 1800.

Works in English translation

  • Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures and Bronzes in the Possession of Mr. Otto Beit: Introduction and Descriptions by Dr. Wilhelm Bode, 1913.
  • The Collection of Pictures of the Late Herr A. de Ridder in his Villa at Schönberg near Cronberg in the Taunus: Catalogued and Described by Wilhelm Bode, translated by Harry Virgin, 1913.
  • Antique Rugs from the Near East, translated by R. M. Riefstahl, 1922.
  • Sandro Botticelli, translated by F. Renfield and F. L. Rudston Brown, 1925.
  • Florentine sculptors of the Renaissance, translated by Jessie Haynes, 1928.

External links

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