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Heinrich Schwarz papers, 1894-1974

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Finding aid for the Heinrich Schwarz papers, 1928-1988

Biographical/Historical Note

Born in Prague in 1894, Heinrich Schwarz began his studies in Classical Archaeology and Philosophy at the University of Vienna in 1913. When the war began in 1914, Schwarz interrupted his studies for four years while he served in the Austro-Hungarian military service for which he received several decorations for bravery. In 1918, he resumed his training at the University of Vienna, receiving a Ph.D. in 1921 for his doctoral work, Der Anfänge der Lithographie in Wien (published posthumously by Böhlau Verlag in 1988).

Dr. Schwarz began his curatorial training in 1921 at the Albertina Print Room, Vienna, and was appointed Curator of the Austrian State Gallery, Belvedere Palace, in 1923. Schwarz collaborated in the creation of this new museum, which consisted of the Barockmuseum, the Gallery of the Nineteenth Century, and the Modern Gallery. In 1926, he published Salzburg und das Salzkammergut: Eine künstlerische Entdeckung, which appeared most recently in a fourth edition in 1977. Dr. Schwarz' publications in the fields of both Austrian art and the treasures of his new museum are many, including journals, "Amicis" editions, Galerie des 19.Jahrhunderts and Moderne Galerie.

In addition to his research in Austrian art, Schwarz also published, in his early years at the Austrian State Gallery, the results of his research into the art and technology of early photography, which focused on the work of David Octavius Hill. David Octavius Hill: Der Meister der Photographie, first published in 1930 in German and translated to English in 1931 and 1932, is considered to be the first true monograph of a photographer ever written. Dr. Schwarz' contributions in the field of early photography and the evolution of photography continued throughout his career.

In 1938, Dr. Schwarz emigrated to the United States, where by 1941 he had settled as a research scholar at the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. From the Albright, Dr. Schwarz moved in 1943 to the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, R.I., as Curator of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints. In 1954, Dr. Schwarz finally settled at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, in the position of Professor of the History of Art and Curator of the Davison Art Collection, where he remained until his retirement in 1972. During his time at Wesleyan, Dr. Schwarz corresponded widely with his colleagues, including Beaumont Newhall, Erwin Panofsky, and many others at museums and libraries in the U.S. and Europe. He also served as a Visiting Professor at Wellesley (1953-4), Mt. Holyoke (1954), and Columbia (1966-8). Throughout this period Dr. Schwarz wrote and lectured primarily on the machine's interjection into art through the centuries, early photography, and iconography, including most specifically the symbolism of the owl and the mirror in art.

Dr. Schwarz also involved himself in the development of exhibitions, and was also the curator/donor of his own rich collection of early calotypes, many by D. O. Hill and Robert Adamson. This collection was exhibited a MoMA (1941 and 1949), RISD, and Yale. In 1964, Schwarz was awarded the Cross of Honour, First Class, "Litteribus et Artibus" by the Austrian Government for his learned contributions.

Heinrich Schwarz died in 1974. His wife, Elisabeth Schwarz, and colleagues continued efforts to publish the large quantity of extant, unpublished research material collected by Dr. Schwarz. Mrs. Schwarz succeeded in overseeing a number of publications: a fourth edition of Salzburg und das Salzkammergut (1977); in cooperation with the Österreichische Galerie and in commemoration of Nestroy's 175th birthday, Johann Nestroy im Bild: eine Ikonographie (1979); a collection of Dr. Schwarz' essays and lectures, Art and Photography: Forerunners and Influences (1985); and the first published edition of Dr. Schwarz' dissertation (1921), Die Anfänge der Lithographie in Österreich (1988).

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