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Margarete Bieber

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Margarete Bieber

Margarete Bieber
Born 31 July 1879
Schönau, Landkreis Schlochau, West Prussia, German Empire
Died 25 February 1978(1978-02-25) (aged 98)
New Canaan, Connecticut
Nationality German Empire, United States
Alma mater University of Berlin, University of Bonn
Occupation Art historian, professor
Religion Jewish

Margarete Bieber (31 July 1879 – 25 February 1978) was a Jewish[1] German-American art historian, classical archaeologist and professor. She became the second woman university professor in Germany in 1919 when she took a position at the University of Giessen. She studied the theatre of ancient Greece and Rome as well as the sculpture and clothing in ancient Rome and Greece.

Bieber left Germany after the Nazis seized power and she made her way to the United States where she taught at Barnard College, Columbia University and Princeton University. She published hundreds of works during her career and authored definitive works in four areas of study: the Greek and Roman theater, Hellenistic sculpture, ancient dress, and Roman copies of Greek art.[2] She emphasised that Roman reproductions of Greek originals were essentially Roman works and carried the stamp of Roman civilization.[2]


Early life and education

Margarete Bieber was born on 31 July 1879 in Schönau, Landkreis Schlochau[3] (present day Drzonowo, Poland) to Jewish parents — Valli Bukofzer, and Jacob Heinrich Bieber, a factory owner.[4] She attended a girl's school in Schwetz (present day Świecie) for six years before being sent to a finishing school in Dresden.[4]

In 1899 she went to Berlin where she attended Gymnasialkurse, a private school founded by Franz Bücheler. She received her PhD from the University of Bonn in 1907, her dissertation concerning representations of ancient Greek costume in art.[5][6]

Research and professorship

In the following years, Bieber did extensive research throughout the Mediterranean. She was the first woman to receive a travel grant from the habilitation at the time. Bieber continued to teach private courses out of her home, counting Dora and Erwin Panofsky among her students.[7]

After several unsuccessful attempts, her postdoctoral was finally approved in 1919 and she became an associate professor in classical archaeology at the Somerville College, Oxford.[9]

Emigration to America

Bieber left for the United States in 1934 at the invitation of Barnard College, where she was a lecturer.[6] She was recommended to Columbia University, where she became a visiting professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology in 1936. She applied for American citizenship in 1939.[4]

In 1939, she published The History of the Greek and Roman Theater. It became a foundational text for students of the ancient theaters of Greece and Rome, delving into the nuances of production and the practicalities of staging.[10]

During World War II, Bieber assisted German refugees. She retired from Columbia University in 1948, though she continued to lecture at the Columbia University School of General Studies and at Princeton University. The Bollingen Foundation helped to fund The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, published in 1955. She continued to publish works, describing sculpture in American museums and ancient clothing.[6]

Bieber was elected a Fellow of the New Canaan, Connecticut. She was 98.[6]

Selected bibliography

A bibliography of Bieber's writings when she was 90 included some 327 items.[12]

  • Das Dresdener Schauspielrelief. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des tragischen Kostüms und der griechischen Kunst. Dissertation, 1907
  • Die Denkmäler zum Theaterwesen im Altertum. Habil.-Schrift, University of Giessen 1919
  • Griechische Kleidung. 1928. 
  • Entwicklungsgeschichte der griechischen tracht von der vorgriechischen zeit bis zur römischen kaiserzeit. Berlin: Gebr. Mann. 1934. 
  • The History of the Greek and Roman Theater. Princeton University Press. 1939. 
  • The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age. Columbia University Press. 1955.  (1980 reprint: ISBN 978-0-87817-257-3)
  • Autobiography of a Female Scholar. (Unpublished). 1959. 
  • Alexander the Great in Greek and Roman Art. Chicago: Argonaut. 1964.  
  • Ancient copies: Contributions to the history of Greek and Roman art. New York: New York U.P. 1977.  

Further reading

  • Buchholz, H. G. (de), "Margarete Bieber, 1879–1978. Klassische Archäologin." Gießener Gelehrte in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Marburg 1982, 58–73.
  • Felschow, Eva-Maria. "Schwieriger Anfang, jähres Ende und ein Neubeginn in der Ferne. Das Schicksal der Margarete Bieber." Panorama 400 Jahre Universität Giessen. Societäts-Verl., Frankfurt (2007) ISBN 978-3-7973-1038-5, pp. 278–283.
  • Harrison, E. B., "Margarete Bieber, 1879–1978." American Journal of Archaeology 82 (1978), pp. 573–575.
  • Obermayer, Hans Peter: "Margarete Bieber im Exil." In: id.: Deutsche Altertumswissenschaftler im amerikanischen Exil. Eine Rekonstruktion. De Gruyter, Berlin, Boston 2014, pp. 35–107.

Warren, Larissa Bonfante; Winkes, Rolf. "Bibliography of the works of Margarete Bieber for her 90th birthday." New York. 1969.

  • Winkes, Rolf. "Margarete Bieber zum 95. Geburtstag." Gießener Universitätsblätter 1 (1974), pp. 68–75.
  • Reimann, Bruno W.: Emigration und Entlassung - Die Gießener Universität in den Jahren nach 1933. In: Schüler, Gideon (Hrsg.), Zwischen Unruhe und Ordnung. Ein deutsches Lesebuch für die Zeit von 1925 bis 1960. Gießen 1989

External links

  • Short biography from Brown University


  1. ^ , Lit Verlag, Wien; p. 91, 92
  2. ^ a b Medwid, M. (2000) The makers of classical archaeology, p. 37
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d Bonfante, Larissa; Recke, Matthias. "Margarete Bieber: Two Worlds" (PDF). Brown University. 
  5. ^ a b "Bieber, Margarete". Dictionary of Art Historians. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 5. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.]: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press. 2004. pp. 56–57.  
  7. ^ Bonfante, Larissa. "Margarete Bieber." Gnomon 51 (September 1979), pp. 621–624.
  8. ^ Freidenreich, Harriet Pass (2002). Female, Jewish, and Educated: The Lives of Central European University Women. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press. p. 131.  
  9. ^ "Bieber, Margarete (1879–1978) - Art History". JRank. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  10. ^ Ashby, Clifford (1998). Classical Greek Theatre: New Views of an Old Subject. University of Iowa Press. pp. 139–145.  
  11. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  12. ^ Addenda to the bibliography of the works of Margarete Bieber. American Journal of Archaeology 79 (1975), pp. 147–148.
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