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Biography[ edit ] The son of Karl Gombrich and Leonie Hock, Gombrich was born in Vienna , Austria-Hungary , into an assimilated bourgeois family of Jewish origin who were part of a sophisticated social and musical milieu. At the Conservatoire she was a pupil of, amongst others, Anton Bruckner.
However, rather than follow a career as a concert pianist which would have been difficult to combine with her family life in this period she became an assistant of Theodor Leschetizky. Adolf Busch and members of the Busch Quartet regularly met and played in the family home. Throughout his life Gombrich maintained a deep love and knowledge of classical music.
He was a competent cellist and in later life at home in London regularly played the chamber music of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and others with his wife and his elder sister Dea Forsdyke, a concert violinist. Specialized in caricature, he was invited to help Ernst Kris , who was then keeper of decorative arts at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, on his graduating in Their only child, Richard Gombrich , went on to become a noted Indologist and scholar of Buddhism , acting as the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University in — Lady Gombrich died in After publishing his first book A Little History of the World in German in , written for children and adolescents, and seeing it become a hit only to be banned by the Nazis for pacifism, he fled to Britain in to take up a post as a research assistant at the Warburg Institute , University of London.
Gombrich returned to the Warburg Institute in November , where he became Senior Research Fellow , Lecturer , Reader , and eventually Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition and director of the institute — He continued his work at the University of London till close to his death in They became lifelong friends in exile.
Work[ edit ] Gombrich remarked that he had two very different publics: amongst scholars he was known particularly for his work on the Renaissance and the psychology of perception, but also his thoughts on cultural history and tradition; to a wider, non-specialist audience he was known for the accessibility and immediacy of his writing and his ability to present scholarly work in a clear and unfussy manner.
It was very popular and translated into several languages, but was not available in English until , when a translation of a revised edition was published as A Little History of the World.
He did most of this translation and revision himself, and it was completed by his long-time assistant and secretary Caroline Mustill and his granddaughter Leonie Gombrich after his death. Originally intended for adolescent readers, it has sold millions of copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. Other major publications include Art and Illusion , regarded by critics to be his most influential and far-reaching work, and the essays gathered in Meditations on a Hobby Horse and The Image and the Eye The complete list of his publications, E.
Thought[ edit ] Psychology of perception[ edit ] When Gombrich arrived in England in , the discipline of art history was largely centred around connoisseurship. Gombrich, however, had been brought up in the Viennese culture of Bildung  and was concerned with wider issues of cultural tradition and the relationship between science and art.
This latter breadth of interest can be seen both in his working relationship with the Austrian psychoanalyst and art historian, Ernst Kris , concerning the art of caricature  and his later books, The Sense of Order in which information theory is discussed in its relation to patterns and ornaments in art and the classic Art and Illusion The process does not start from scratch, however.
Our formula of schema and correction, in fact, illustrates this very procedure. You must have a starting point, a standard of comparison, to begin that process of making and matching and remaking which finally becomes embodied in the finished image.
Gombrich had written his first major work The Story of Art in , ten years before Art and Illusion. Gombrich was a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci and wrote extensively on him, both in these volumes and elsewhere. His answer to the latter was that he was writing a history of art as it was, and that women artists did not feature widely in the West before the 20th century. He admired 20th-century female artists such as Bridget Riley , whose work was included in a revised edition of The Story of Art.
While several works of Gombrich especially Art and Illusion in had enormous impact on art history and other fields,  his categorical attacks on historism have been accused by Carlo Ginzburg of leading to "barren" scholarship;  many of his methodological arguments have been superseded by the work of art historians like Svetlana Alpers and Michael Baxandall.
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