Gombrich, E. H.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gombrich, E. H.

E. H. Gombrich: (Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich), 1909–2001, British art historian and scholar, b. Vienna, grad. Univ. of Vienna (1933). From a culturally prominent Austrian-Jewish family, he fled Germany in 1936 for England, where he lived for the rest of his life. He taught at Oxford, the Univ. of London, and the Warburg Institute, which he directed from 1959 until his retirement in 1976. Enormously erudite, Gombrich is best known for his superb art-historical survey The Story of Art (1950), in which he distinguished between representational art based on seeing and that based based on understanding. His ideas on visual perception were further developed in Art and Illusion (1956), in which he applied work in psychology to the framework of art history, and The Image and the Eye (1982). His many essay collections dealing with art theory include Meditations on a Hobby Horse (1963) and Ideals and Idols (1979). Among his other works are three studies of Renaissance art, Norm and Form (1966), Symbolic Images (1972), and The Heritage of Apelles (1976). His later books include New Light on Old Masters (1986), Shadows (1995), The Uses of Images (1999), and the posthumously published The Preference for the Primitive (2002).

See E. Gombrich and D. Eribon, Looking for Answers: Conversations on Art and Science (1993); R. Woodfield, ed., The Essential Gombrich (1996).

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