- Korrespondenz 1910 bis 1968: Eine kommentierte Auswahl in fünf Bänden
Erwin Panofsky (1892–1968) was the most famous art historian of the twentieth century. Decades after his death, his books are still in press and his ideas continue to be debated. In 1992 major symposia addressing his legacy were held in Hamburg and Princeton. He has been the subject of numerous biographical and theoretical studies. Dieter Wuttke, the indefatigable literary historian who retired from the University of Bamberg in 1995, offers us a critical new tool for understanding Panofsky's personal and professional sides. He has compiled an intelligently annotated edition of Panofsky's correspondence. Approximately 27,000 letters survive in private and public archives. The largest group of about 16,000 letters, given by his widow Gerda Soergel Panofsky, is preserved in the Archives for American Art of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. This correspondence includes about 2,400 individuals and institutions. Prior to his dismissal from the University of Hamburg in 1933 and his immigration to the United States, he wrote in German. Once Panofsky settled in Princeton, his correspondence was increasingly (and eventually almost exclusively) in English, his adopted language. There are a smattering of letters written in French and about fifty notes in Latin sent to close friends. This cache of letters presents a complex portrait of Panofsky the individual and a firsthand account of the emergence of Art History as a respected discipline in the United States.
The first two of five planned volumes have appeared. These cover the years 1910–36 (letters nos. 1–607) and 1937–49 (letters nos. 608–1346). Wuttke picked what he considered the most crucial or interesting of the letters. In volume one (xxxvi-xlv), he explains his selection criteria and his editorial method. The format for each item is identical. He identifies the author of the letter, his or her address, the date, the recipient, the present location of the letter, its unabridged text, and, when relevant, a commentary. The latter is often quite thorough as Wuttke describes the context and/or content of the letter as well as the cast of characters mentioned. It is easy to navigate the correspondence either by theme or [End Page 605] individual using the commentaries and the superb index. Researchers will find invaluable Wuttke's succinct biographies of the most important correspondents at the end of each volume. Wuttke includes an insightful biography of Panofsky (vol. 1, ix–xxxv), the most thorough bibliographies of Panofsky's publications for these two periods that I have encountered, and a few short and overlooked texts either by or about Panofsky.
The correspondence is truly a treasure trove. Beyond the obvious biographical information, Panofsky's letters offer a fascinating glimpse of the scholarly world in Germany and, from 1933, in the United States. Volume 1 covers the period from Panofsky's studies to his growing engagement with the American academic community after settling in Princeton in the summer of 1934. Many letters show Panofsky's playful and humorous character. He occasionally penned amusing poems, such as his Berliner Faschings-Sonett (1914; no. 11), his rhyme on the occasion of the 1919 birth of his younger son Wolfgang (no. 50), or his quest for permanent employment in the United States (1933; no. 423, see below). One observes a growing network of friendships as Panofsky studied in Berlin and Freiburg im Breisgau, where he received his doctorate in 1914. These associations resulted in his introduction by Adolf Goldschmidt to Aby Warburg, Gustav Pauli, and Fritz Saxl in Hamburg in late 1915. Warburg, the founder of the Warburg Library, stimulated Panofsky's interest in iconology. Pauli, director of the Kunsthalle, facilitated his appointment in 1920 as a Privatdozent at the new University of Hamburg. Saxl, then Warburg's assistant, became one of Panofsky's closest friends and collaborators. This volume alone contains eighty-nine letters associated with the...