Sir Joseph Archer Crowe

(1825—1896) art historian and diplomatist

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John Pope-Hennessy (1913—1994) museum director and art historian


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(b London, 20 Oct. 1825; d Gamburg an der Tauber, Germany, 6 Sept. 1896). English journalist, diplomat, and art historian, brother of the painter Eyre Crowe (1824–1910). He had a distinguished career as a commercial attaché in Berlin, Paris, and Vienna and was also a war correspondent in the Crimea and elsewhere, but he is best known for his writings on art history done in collaboration with the Italian draughtsman and connoisseur Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle (b Legnano, 22 Jan. 1819; d Rome, 31 Oct. 1897). They met by chance in 1847 and became firm friends when Cavalcaselle was later a political refugee in London; for a time they lived in the same house. Every detail of their books was discussed between them, but Crowe did all the actual writing because Cavalcaselle's English was inadequate; in the words of John Pope-Hennessy, ‘Crowe was the synthesizer and historian, Cavalcaselle was the eye.’ Their prodigious output included The Early Flemish Painters (1857), A New History of Painting in Italy (3 vols., 1864–8), A History of Painting in North Italy (2 vols., 1871), Titian: His Life and Times (2 vols., 1877), and Raphael: His Life and Works (2 vols., 1882). These works, all of which have appeared in subsequent editions, either in English or translation, set new standards of methodical research, bringing to light masses of new information, and they are still considered valuable.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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