Gisela Richter

Gisela Marie Augusta Richter (born 14 or 15 August 1882, in London, England; 24 December 1972, in Rome, Italy), was a classical archaeologist and art historian.[1] Gisela Richter was a prominent figure and an authority in her field.

Early life

Gisela Richter was born in London, England, the daughter of Jean Paul and Louise (Schwaab) Richter.[2] Both of her parents and her sister, Irma, were art historians specialised in Italian Renaissance. She was educated at Maida Vale School, one of the finest schools for women at the time. She decided to become a classical archaeologist while attending Emmanuel Loewy's lectures at the University of Rome around 1896. In 1901, she attended Girton College at the University of Cambridge, which she left in 1904 without a degree, since women at the time could not graduate and spent a year at the British School at Athens between 1904-1905.[3] Gisela Richter moved to the U.S. in 1905 and became an American citizen in 1917.


Gisela Richter joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as an assistant in 1905,[4] where she was asked to create a catalogue for a collection of Greek vases recently acquired by the Met from the Canessa Brothers, the famous European art dealers.[5] She became assistant curator in 1910, promoted to associate curator in 1922, and curator of Greek and Roman art in 1925, a position held until 1948 when she retired. Gisela Richter became honorary curator until her death in 1972. Gisela Richter became the first woman to hold the title of 'curator' at the Met when she was appointed to the post in 1925.[6][7] As curator, she was one of the most influential people in classical art history at the time.

She lectured at Columbia University, Yale University, Bryn Mawr College, and Oberlin College. As author of numerous popular books on classical art, she had a great influence on the general public's understanding and appreciation of the subject. In 1944, she received the Achievement Award from the American Association of University Women. In 1952, Gisela Richter was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Oxford.[8] In 1968, she received the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Institute of America.[9]

Death and legacy

In 1952, Richter moved to Rome, Italy, where she died in 1972.[10] She is buried in Rome's Cimitero acattolico. Writing 30 years after Richter's death, Camille Paglia paid tribute to her "for her clarity and rigor of mind; her fineness of sensibility and connoisseurship; her attention to detail and her power of observation and deduction; her mastery of form and design".

Selected publications


References and sources

  1. Judy Barrett Litoff; Judith McDonnell (1994). European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. pp. 245–. ISBN 978-0-8240-5306-2.
  2. Richter, Gisela M[arie] A[ugusta] Dictionary of Art Historians, 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. Archived here.
  3. Carnes, edited by Mark (2002). Invisible giants : fifty Americans who shaped the nation but missed the history books. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 236. ISBN 0195168836.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. Stephen L. Dyson (January 1998). Ancient Marbles to American Shores: Classical Archaeology in the United States. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 147–. ISBN 0-8122-3446-4.
  5. Levkoff, Mary L. (2008). Hearst the Collector, Museum Edition. New York: Harry N Abrams Inc. p. 205. ISBN 0810982439.
  6. Puma, Carlos A. Picón ... [et al.] ; with contributions from Richard De (2007). Art of the classical world in the Metropolitan Museum of Art : Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome. New York, N.Y.: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 8. ISBN 1588392171.
  7. Carnes, edited by Mark (2002). Invisible giants : fifty Americans who shaped the nation but missed the history books. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0195168836.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. Times, Special To the New York (26 December 1972). "GISELA RICHTER, ART CURATOR, DIES". The New York Times.
  9. "Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement - Archaeological Institute of America". Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  10. ed. by Sicherman, Barbara; Hurd Green, Carol (1993). Notable American women: the modern period ; a biographical dictionary (6th pring. ed.). Cambridge, Mass [u.a.]: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. p. 577. ISBN 978-0674627338.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • My Memoirs: Recollections of an Archaeologist's Life, by Gisela Richter, 1972.
  • "Gisela Richter," in Notable American Women, ed. Barbara Sicherman and Carol H. Green, 1980.
  • "Scholar of Classical Art and Museum Archaeologist," in Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts, 1820-1979, ed. Claire R. Sherman,1981
  • "Gisela Richter," in Invisible Giants: 50 Americans That Shaped the Nation but Missed the History Books, Oxford University Press; March 2002.
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