Nikolaus Pevsner

Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, CBE ( born January 30, 1902 in Leipzig, † August 18 1983 in London; pseudonym Peter FR Donner ) was a German - British art historian who especially devoted to the history of architecture.


Nikolaus Pevsner was born as the son of Russian Jewish immigrant and fur trader Hugo Pevsner and his wife Anna in Leipzig. He grew up in upper- middle-class background. After graduating from the famous St. Thomas School in Leipzig in 1921, he studied art history under Heinrich Wölfflin at the University of Munich, Adolph Goldschmidt at the Friedrich- Wilhelms- University Berlin and Rudolf Kautzsch at the University of Frankfurt and received his PhD in 1924 with Wilhelm Pinder at the University of Leipzig with a thesis on the Leipzig Baroque architecture to the Dr. phil. In 1940 he dedicated to his doctor father and friend of his book about art academies.

At the study then he worked from 1924 to 1928 as an assistant at the Dresden Art Gallery and the Print Room, Dresden. After he completed his habilitation at George Vitzthum of Eckstadt on "The Italian painting from the late Renaissance to the end of the Rococo ". He taught from 1929 to 1933 with Wolfgang Stechow as a lecturer in art and architectural history at the University of Göttingen. This was followed by study tours to the United Kingdom, he conducted research in 1935 at the University of Birmingham. After the seizure of power by the National Socialists in Germany in 1933, he emigrated in 1934 to England, where he in 1946 acquired British citizenship.

Initially, he worked as a buyer and consultant for the furniture and handicraft company Gordon Russell. In 1939, he was placed as a German origin in an internment camp for civilians Huyton. From 1943 to 1946 he worked alongside Hubert de Cronin Hastings as co-editor of the Architectural Review in London. Pevsner was 1959-1969 Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London. From 1949 to 1955 he worked on the " Slade Professorship of Fine Art " of the University of Cambridge and from 1968 to 1969 at the University of Oxford. He was also a 1950-1955 Fellow of St. John 's College, Cambridge, and in 1955 Reith Lecture of the BBC.

His elevation to the British peerage in 1969 is to be regarded as remarkable as only Ernst Gombrich was bestowed this honor on immigrant art historians. He was also an honorary doctorate from the University of Leicester, University of York, the University of Leeds, the University of Oxford, the University of Zagreb and the University of Edinburgh

Pevsner became world famous through his 46- volume work, The Buildings of England (from 1951 to 1974 with Cornwall Staffordshire) at Penguin Publishing Allen Lane. Several of these books have also been placed in by seen and changed form again. He was also the editor of the Pelican History of Art series ( from 1953 onwards ) and from 1941 the series King Penguin Books. These manuals are inspired by similar rows of Georg Dehio and Fritz Burger in Germany. Pevsner wrote numerous studies on the arts and especially in the architectural history that are counted among the classics of the field.

Pevsner has rendered outstanding services to the rescue of Victorian architecture and contributed to the rediscovery of the forgotten designer Christopher Dresser, who was a pioneering influence on art nouveau and functionalism.

He was since 1923 with Karola Kurlbaum, daughter of a lawyer at the imperial court, married and had three children with her. Pevsner died in 1983 in London's Hampstead. He is buried in the graveyard of St. Peter Church in Clyffe Pypard, Wiltshire.



  • Leipzig Baroque. The architecture of the Baroque period in Leipzig. Jess, Dresden 1928 ( Unchanged reprint. With an afterword by Ernst Ullmann. Seemann, Leipzig, 1990, ISBN 3-363-00457-5 ).
  • Baroque painting in the Latin countries ( = Handbook of Aesthetics). Volume 1: The Italian painting from the late Renaissance to the end of the Rococo. Athenaion, Potsdam 1928.
  • Academies of Art Past and Present Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1940 ( In German language: The history of art academies from English by Roland Floerke meander, Munich, 1986, ISBN 3-88219-285-2. . ).
  • An Outline of European Architecture ( Pelican Books A = 109). Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1942 ( In German language: .. .. European architecture from the beginnings to the present with a contribution to architecture since 1960 by Winfried Nerdinger 8, expanded and redesigned edition Prestel, Munich, etc. 1997, ISBN 3-7913 - 1376-2 ).
  • Pioneers of Modern Design. From William Morris to Walter Gropius. Museum of Modern Art, New York NY, 1949 ( in German language: Pioneers of modern design from Morris to Gropius With an epilogue by Wolfgang Pehnt DuMont, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-8321-7234-3. .. ).
  • As Publisher: The Buildings of England. 46 volumes. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1951 to 1974.
  • The Englishness of English Art An expanded and annotated version of the Reith Lectures Broadcast in October and November 1955 Architectural Press, London, 1956 ( in German language: .. 's English in the English art Prestel, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-7913-0057 -1).
  • The Sources of Modern Architecture and Design. Praeger, New York NY, 1968 ( in German language: The beginning of modern architecture and design of the new edition DuMont, Cologne 1978, ISBN 3-7701-0540-0. . ).
  • Some Architectural Writers of the Nineteenth Century. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1972, ISBN 0-19-817315-6.
  • A History of Building Types ( AW Mellon Lectures in the = Fine Arts 19 = Bollingen Series 35, 19). Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 1976, ISBN 0-691-01829-4 (in German language: .. . Feature and shape the history of the buildings of the West with an afterword by Karen Michels Rogner & Bernhard at Zweitausendeins, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3 -8077-0189-3 ).
  • With John Fleming and Hugh Honour: The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, among other things, 1966 ( in German language. Encyclopedia of World Architecture ( = Digital Library Vol 37 ) Electronic edition of 3, updated, and expanded edition 1999 Direct Media, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89853-437-5. . ).
  • Visual Planning and the Picturesque. Edited by Mathew Aitchison. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA 2010, ISBN 978-1-60606-001-8.