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Untranslatable: Gottfried Kinkel, Kulturgeschichte, and British Art Historiography

Hans Christian Hönes

Published online:

17 Jun 2021



In 1934, Edgar Wind claimed there was no English equivalent for the word “kulturwissenschaftlich” and the method it denoted: it was untranslatable. Although German art history had been widely read in England since Victorian times, certain methods, as well as the discipline itself, were only hesitantly received. This article focuses on a decisive moment in this entangled history—an attempt to establish in Britain both art history as an academic discipline and a cultural-historical approach to the subject. The key figure is the dashing art historian Gottfried Kinkel, a close friend of Jacob Burckhardt (and archenemy of Karl Marx), who fled Germany after the 1848 revolution. In 1853, he gave the firstever university lecture in art history in England, the manuscripts of which were recently discovered. Kinkel’s case is a prime example of both a socio-historical approach to art history in Victorian times and an exile’s only partially successful attempt to transmit his methodology to a new audience.

Other articles in this issue:

Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte Issues

Volume 87 (2024)
Volume 86 (2023)
Volume 85 (2022)
Volume 84 (2021)
Volume 83 (2020)
Volume 82 (2019)
Volume 81 (2018)
Volume 80 (2017)
Volume 79 (2016)

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