(1853–1907), German historian of ancient art and field


In 1874, Furtwängler completed his doctorate at Munich and soon after spent three years (1876–1879) traveling and excavating in Italy and Greece. These laid the foundations for a remarkably varied series of studies of prehistoric Greek, Etruscan, classical Greek, and Roman art that demonstrated his particular talent for the stylistic and historical organization of enormous corpora of artifacts. In Greece, Furtwängler collaborated with Georg Löschcke in publishing Heinrich Schliemann's pottery from Mycenae (1879) and in constructing a typology for Mycenaean ceramics (1886). Furtwängler published (1890) the more than fourteen thousand, mostly fragmentary bronze votives and other small finds of Geometric, orientalizing, and later styles from the Olympia excavations in Greece in which he had participated (1878–1879). Beginning In 1881, he devoted himself to organizing museum collections in Berlin, producing inter alia a comprehensive study of the development of Greek vase painting (1885), as represented by examples in the Antiquarium at the Royal Museum in Berlin, and an encyclopedic study of Greek and Roman gems in relation to the art of the Near East and Etruria (1900). His justifiably famous Meisterwerken der griechischen Plastik followed In 1893 (1895 in English translation). In 1894, Furtwängler assumed the chair of classical archaeology at the University of Munich. In 1901, he began new archaeological investigations at the Temple of Aphaia on Aigina, at the center of the classical city-state, and at the sanctuary of Zeus Hellenios on Mt. Oros. The excavations of the Temple of Aphaia, published promptly In 1906, allowed a more accurate sculptural history of its pediments and produced the first evidence for a Mycenaean presence on Aigina. Among the many projects underway at the time of his death was his monumental publication of select Greek vases, Griechische Vasenmalerei.


  • Church, J. E., Jr. “Adolf Furtwängler: Artist, Archaeologist, Professor.” University of Nevada Studies 1–3 (1908–1911): 61–66. Affectionate appraisal by an American acquaintance.
  • Furtwängler, Adolf. Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture: A Series of Essays on the History of Art. London, 1895. Translation of Furtwängler's masterwork.
  • Furtwängler, Adolf, and K. Reichhold. Griechische Vasenmalerei: Auswahl hervorragender Vasenbilder. Munich, 1900–1932.
  • Furtwängler, Andreas E. “Adolf Furtwängler, 30 June 1853–11 October 1907.” In Classical Scholarship: A Biographical Encyclopedia, edited by Ward W. Briggs and William M. Calder III, pp. 84–92. New York, 1990. Frank assessment of Furtwängler's contributions as a scholar and teacher, including a bibliography of his principal scholarly works, biographies, and necrologies.
  • Lullies, Reinhard. “Adolf Furtwängler.” In Archäologenbildnisse, edited by Reinhard Lullies and Wolfgang Schiering, pp. 110–111. Mainz, 1988. Brief study of Furtwängler's career.
  • Schuchhardt, Walter H. Adolf Furtwängler. Freiburg, 1956. Assessment of Furtwängler's contributions to the development of an art historically oriented classical archaeology.

Jack L. Davis