Concept

Josef Strzygowski

Summary
Josef Rudolph Thomas Strzygowski (March 7, 1862 – January 2, 1941) was a Polish-Austrian art historian known for his theories promoting influences from the art of the Near East on European art, for example that of Early Christian Armenian architecture on the early Medieval architecture of Europe, outlined in his book, Die Baukunst der Armenier und Europa. He is considered a member of the Vienna School of Art History. Strzygowski was born in Biala, Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria (today part of Poland). His mother, Edle Trass von Friedelfeldt, was from minor nobility and his father was a cloth manufacturer. Strzygowski initially intended to pursue the same trade, beginning an apprenticeship in a weaving plant in 1880, however, in 1882 he abandoned this career and enrolled at the University of Vienna. He soon transferred to the University of Munich, where he studied art history and completed a dissertation on the iconography of the Baptism of Christ, published in 1885 as Iconographie der Taufe Christi . For the next three years Strzygowski lived in Rome, where he completed a study of Cimabue und Rom (1887) (Cimabue and Rome), which emphasized the Byzantine sources of the Italian painter's work. Late in life he stated that this work led to the question which would define all of his subsequent scholarship: "What is Rome, what, in reality, is Italian and European art?" Following his Roman sojourn, Strzygowski travelled to Thessaloniki, Mount Athos, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow, thus developing a greater acquaintance with Byzantine and Russian art. In 1892 he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Graz, but in 1894 and 1895, he lived in Cairo, where he studied the early Byzantine and Islamic art of Egypt, and compiled a catalogue of the Coptic art in the Cairo Museum. Upon his return he entered a period of intense scholarly activity, publishing numerous articles on Byzantine and Islamic art, fields in which he considered himself to be the pioneer.
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