The Vienna School of Art History

Empire and the Politics of Scholarship, 18471918

By (author) Matthew Rampley

Hardback - £74.95

Publication date:

11 November 2013

Length of book:

296 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271061580

Matthew Rampley’s The Vienna School of Art History is the first book in over seventy-five years to study in depth and in context the practices of art history from 1847, the year the first teaching position in the discipline was created, to 1918, the collapse of Austria-Hungary. It traces the emergence of art history as a discipline, the establishment of norms of scholarly inquiry, and the involvement of art historians in wider debates about the cultural and political identity of the monarchy.

The so-called Vienna School plays the central role in the study, but Rampley also examines the formation of art history elsewhere in Austria-Hungary. Located in the Habsburg imperial capital, Vienna art historians frequently became entangled in debates that were of importance to art historians elsewhere in the Empire, and Rampley pays particular attention to these areas of overlapping interest. He also analyzes the methodological innovations for which the Vienna School was well known. Rampley focuses most fully, however, on the larger political and ideological context of the practice of art history—particularly the way in which art-historical debates served as proxies for wider arguments over the political, social, and cultural life of the Habsburg Empire.

“This is the most commendable art-historical text to come my way in a long time, a major intellectual achievement on all fronts. Very much to his credit, Rampley writes in gracefully lucid language, something that cannot be said about many scholars attracted to this material.”

—Michael Yonan, Austrian History Yearbook