Art and Illusion Critical Context - Essay

E. H. Gombrich

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Gombrich was born in Vienna on March 30, 1909. His education was at the Theresianum and the University of Vienna, from which he received the degree of doctor of philosophy in the history of art. Gombrich was taught to think initially and academically in German with its special overtones; he came also in time and by choice to think in English with its contrasting undertones. In Art and Illusion, he pays dedicatory homage in a chronological listing to the memory of three teachers; under the second he wrote his dissertation.

To Emanuel Loewy, specialist in Greek sculpture and inscriptions, including especially those pertaining to artists, Gombrich ascribed, admittedly in the context of “the outlook of sense-data psychology,” “most of what is worth preserving” in “evolutionism.”

Julius von Schlosser, noted for the study of monastic architecture, early and later Renaissance art, and the history of musical instruments, and for the cataloging of the private and state collections of Austria, is acknowledged as the source of Gombrich’s recurrent interest “in the role of the type and even of the stereotype in tradition,” in “the use of ’precedents’ or ’similes,’ ” in the “conceptual image,” and ultimately in the “style” of an age.

Through Ernst Kris, a student of decorative art, especially sculpture, and of the psychology of art and the relationship of psychoanalysis to art, there was mediated...

(The entire section is 451 words.)