Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, one of the most influential art historians of the twentieth century, was born to Karl B. and Leonie Hock Gombrich. His father was a lawyer who served as vice president of the Vienna Lawyers’ Chamber, and his mother was a pianist who had been an assistant to Theodor Leschetizky and a member of the circle around Gustav Mahler. His family, like many others in post-World War I Austria, had a hard struggle; eventually the young Ernst Gombrich was sent to Sweden by the Save the Children Fund. When he was able to return to Austria, he attended the Theresianum, a school that concentrated on classical subjects. From 1928 to 1935, he attended the University of Vienna, taking courses in art history, classical archaeology, psychology, and philosophy.
At the age of twenty-six, he published a highly successful world history book for children, which quickly became available in four languages. With the Nazi threat growing in Austria, Gombrich accepted an offer to join the Warburg Institute in London in 1936. He married Ilse Heller in 1937 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1947. In 1959, he became director of the Warburg Institute, a position he held until 1976. During his career, he published almost two dozen books, held several visiting professorships, and received many prestigious fellowships and awards.
Beginning in his student days, Gombrich was more interested in the psychological, philosophical, and cultural...
(The entire section is 503 words.)
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Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich was born in Vienna, Austria, on March 30, 1909, to Karl B. Gombrich, a lawyer, and Leonie Hock Gombrich, a pianist. Gombrich credits his intellectual development to the music in his home. Indeed, Adolf Busch, the leader of the Busch Quartet, was a frequent visitor to the Gombrich home. Leonie Gombrich was also well-acquainted with the great modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg and Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis.
Although the atmosphere in his home led to his development as a thinker, Gombrich did not follow his mother’s footsteps into music but chose rather to study art history at Vienna University. Gombrich said that he made his decision because ‘‘art was a marvelous key to the past’’ (The Essential Gombrich). At the university, he studied with the great art historian, Julius von Schlosser. Another important influence in the life of young Gombrich was Ernst Kris, who asked Gombrich to help him write a book on caricature which incorporated the work of Freud.
The rise of Nazism in Germany, however, interrupted the project, and Kris encouraged his Jewish assistant to leave Austria. It was largely due to Kris’s urging and his recommendation of Gombrich to the director of the Warburg Institute that Gombrich moved to London in 1936.
When World War II began, Gombrich served as a ‘‘radio monitor,’’ working for the British Broadcasting Corporation as part of the war effort....
(The entire section is 459 words.)