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SUBSTANCE, SENSATION, AND PERCEPTION

Michael Baxandall

Interviewed by Richard Candida Smith

Art History Oral Documentation Project

Compiled under the auspices


of the
Getty Research Institute for the History of
Art and the Humanities

Copyright

The

J.

1998

Paul Getty Trust

COPYRIGHT LAW
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RESTRICTIONS ON THIS INTERVIEW


None.

LITERARY RIGHTS AND QUOTATION


This manuscript

is

hereby made available for research purposes only. All literary

rights in the manuscript, including the right to publication, are reserved to the Getty

Research

Institute for the History

manuscript

may be quoted

of Art and the Humanities.

No

part of the

for publication without the written permission

of the

Assistant Director for Resource Collections of the Getty Research Institute for the

History of Art and the Humanities.

* * *

Frontispiece: Michael Baxandall, 1998. Photograph courtesy of Michael Baxandall.

CONTENTS

Curriculum Vitae

SESSION ONE:

TAPE

I,

SIDE

xii

18

APRIL, 1996 (120 minutes)

ONE

Childhood

in Cardiff,

Wales

Father's career as

museum keeper

Excavations

Primary
modernism and
and
medieval
Michael Cardew and Bernard
movements English

and
Leach Roger Fry

beginning of World War


dilemma

force
Mother's
and
decision
The daughter of an Anglican
Wales Moral

urgency predominant value


the Baxandall family
Baxandall's
Family's contemporary
boarding
during childhood
school during the war Emotional
of a museum
Manchester His

Baxandall
Quaker ethos and
His self-conception as an antiquarian and

art critic

in

interest in British

sites

arts

potters

crafts

influence

Parents'

attitudes

Pacifist

socialist political

at

Father's

II

to enlist in the air

social

intellectual

cleric in

activities

culture

in

art collecting

stay at

difficulties

Father's position as director

in

artistic

family's attraction to

tastes

style

Grammar School

Baxandall's decision to study classics at Manchester

not motivated by any intellectual interest in antiquity

bit anti-

Determination work the


Urged
Downing
College, Cambridge Friend of
introduces Baxandall
work

of C. M. Bowra and
R. Leavis
Studying under
R. Leavis and
Harold Mason
teaching methods Exercises
author
Discriminations of
played a very big
The moral and the
Leavis's approach
were

completely
Learning from other
intellectual as a teenager

to

trade rather than go to university

to enroll in

in

printing

to

father's

F.

F.

Leavis's

identification

in

part in

quality

to literature

literary

interfused

students.

TAPE I, SIDE TWO

18

Cambridge University community


Leavis's students formed an "enclosed sect," proudly divorced from
other students
Mason hosted weekly readings of Dante in Italian
No direct contact with history faculty
Leavis's approach to social
Leavis's hostile relationship with the

IV

Readings
H. Tawney and Gerald Robert

nature of
Osmotic
Owst
Cambridge
philosophy
growth
but not

Downing English
Heinrich Wolfflin and
school Personal readings
Erwin Panofsky Attending Nikolaus Pevsner's
Not
Pevsner discussed
Cambridge: Roy Summers and Richard West
Close
"mentally
people Frankness
valued
Admiration

of wounding
personal
Cambridge, even
Vanity centered on
and experience
Tastes

than
medieval and Renaissance
Favorite
and poets Not much
Freud, but an
reader of Jung A strong
of
dominant value
Baxandall's personal

and cultural history

in

R.

influences structured the

intellectual
"

"in the air,

Linguistic

at

Antiphilosophical stance in

studied directly

in art history:

art history lectures

particularly interested in the subjects

friends at
for

highly

agile"

to the point

feelings

others'

in dress

intelligence

dress or culture

rather

at

Interest in

art

novelists

interest in

feeling for representations

avid

Restraint a

"restraint"

in

philosophy.

TAPE II, SIDE ONE

35

Aware of British New Left writings, but didn't play a large part in his
intellectual life
Raymond Williams's Border Country
Ambition
to be a novelist

Plans

to spend his twenties traveling

around the

On the of novels
the University of
1950s and 1960s Studies

Pavia and
University
of
Munich
the
An
B.A.
from the Courtauld Attending
by Edoardo Arslan
on Venetian
and Lanfranco
on Torquato Tasso
Learning how
put together corpus based on study of

Moving north University of


devices
Active
Munich
spend year studying with Hans Sedlmayr
Disagreements with Sedlmayr's approach Move
the Central
Art History Karl-Ludwig Heydenreich Importance
of discovering Antonio Gramsci and
Marxism Return

London
1958
the Warburg
while looking
a job Hired by Gertrud Bing
help with
photograph

connoisseurship Attracted
the nonworld collecting material for novels

role

intellectual life in the

in

at

external

at

history

in art

lectures

painting
to

Caretti

stylistic

social life in Italy

to

to

to

Institute for

to

Italian

in

Drifts into

Institute

to

Slight training in

theoretical nature of art history.

the

for

collection

to

SESSION TWO:

TAPE

III,

No

SIDE

26

APRIL

1996 (130 minutes)

ONE

45

training in archival problems or in philological skills

need for specialized

skills until

Renaissance Germany

Germany

Able

No

real

work on The Limewood Sculptors of


to call

on help from

The

for particular problems

the Zentralinstitut fur Kunstgeschichte:

specialists in

university, the

museums, and

three centers for art-historical

Munich Heydenreich's course on Federigo da Montefeltro


Developing opposition Sedlmayr Working on Warburg's
Gertrud
strong
Warburg The
photo
Warburg
dominant paradigm
organization of
studies in

the

to

Bing's

collection

library constituted

the

Young

role at the

scholars there formed a study group to master E. H.

Gombrich's Art and Illusion

Learning about projection and the

Introduction works of Ernst


Ernst
and Erich Auerbach Influence of Erwin Panofsky
Robert
Warburg personnel Tenor of
between Germans,
Warburg Otto Kurz's breadth of
and Britons

Varying
More on the Warburg
knowledge
of

the Warburg Development of anthropological


Henri Frankfort and
Peter Ucko Bing's accounts of Aby
psychology of vision

Cassirer,

to

Curtius,

relation

at the

Austrians,

library

fields

studies

interest at

his pupil,

Warburg and

the Institute's history.

TAPE III, SIDE TWO


Teaching

61

art history classes at the

Slade School of Fine Art and the

Close
Warburg Gombrich

Camberwell School of Art


younger scholars

at the

between Gombrich and

interaction

attention to the problem of humanist writing

directed Baxandall's

on

art in the Italian

Topic coincided
with Baxandall's long-held

of
Gombrich's seminars
the
Warburg
Discussions with Michael Podro and Peter Ucko
helped Baxandall develop deeper understanding of Gombrich's
Dabbling various psychological
Influence of Anton

Ehrenzweig's Hidden Order of Art


Friendship with Sixten Ringbom
Tenor of
between
Warburg and Courtauld
Hired 1961 an
keeper
Department of
Architecture and Sculpture
and Albert Museum

Assigned
cataloging the
Renaissance

closely

interest in questions

for

"restraint"

staff

ideas

theories

in

relations

in

as

the

institutes

in the

assistant

at the

Victoria

to relabel the Italian collection

VI

Shifted to

German wood

sculptures

Interest in museological

problems

Continuing reading with Gombrich on rhetoric and other issues

Returning
1965
Warburg

Diverse readings
the
course on Renaissance
humanist criticism

to the

to develop a

in

rhetoric

in

in

Renaissance: Remigio Sabbadini, Giuseppe Bilanovich, Eugenio Garin

formed one group, Paul

Kristeller

and

his students,

another

More

Developing essays for the


on Panofsky
Jacob Burckhardt
Courtauld
Institutes that would
Journal of the Warburg and
Relation of book to
eventually turn into Giotto and the Orators
Developing
studies in Italian Renaissance art history at the time

interest in anthropological linguistics.

TAPE IV, SIDE ONE


More on

76

interests in language theory

Not

interested in developing a

clean theoretical position, but did want to be able to discuss issues

Developing conceptual vocabulary

syntax and
perceptual
making

encounters with French semiotics through


Later readings
students and attending
Physiological phenomena involved
are
not
independent of language "The eye
but
leads
conceptual movement" On George Kubler's Shape of Time
More on teaching
the Warburg Never taught
the
1986, when he joined

University of
Berkeley
Marriage
Katharina Simon
Baxandall Gramsci important
Baxandall's outlook, but not much
with "tact"

distinctions

that facilitates

Interest in

its

relation to

Indirect

priorities

lectures

in structural

in vision that

linguistics

is

verbal,

it

to

responsibilities at

art

the art history faculty at

history until

to

California,

to

interest in

contemporary

SESSION THREE:

political controversies.

30 APRIL, 1996 (130 minutes)

TAPE V, SIDE ONE

88

Gombrich's
move
programmatically
the
of science Gombrich's
Karl Popper Development of M.Phil, course
humanism
Few
research
Warburg Valuable
guidance from Joseph B. Trapp Friendships developed
the Warburg Development of Painting and Experience
Changes

in staff at

Warburg

into

after

965

desire to

history

relation to

in Italian

collective

projects at the

intellectual

as a

at

VII

series

of lectures for the history faculty

Developing

at University

a proposition about the cognitive styles

The problems

Interest in vernacular visual styles

painting

London
embedded into

College

and Experience

represented in the second chapter of Painting

central

course of Baxandall's work Source


on
meditations
of judging symbolic meaning of
would consider the book
and
color Expected
some
book evoked the notion of
speculative Surprise

and
"1930s
response
the book
Suggestions and comments from
or
from
Trapp and Bing on work-in-progress Gombrich's
present

Painting and Experience


Editing Gombrich's Norm and Form
materials

to further

visualizing

Difficulties

that critics

philistine

the

that for

Zeitgeist

vibrations"

sinister

to

Little

cultural historians

social

influence

in

Augmenting references

Kristeller's help

in

second edition of Painting and Experience

on Giotto and the Orators.

TAPE V, SIDE TWO

104

Assessing modern scholarship on


Intended write book would supersede
More on Warburg
work on
Renaissance
On John Shearman's Mannerism

the
the LeonelloVenturi/Roberto Longhi debates
Developing
Carlo Argan and Roberto

Bibliography for Giotto book


Italian

humanists

Anthony

Blunt's

to

that

Italian

art

and Courtauld polarity

Developments

in art history at British universities in

sixties

Baxandall's relation to

Admiration for Giulio

Salvini

the research plan for The

Germany

Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance

The book was

arguments advanced

in

to be a

Painting

other historians, such as

more

substantial exposition

and Experience

Peter Burke

T.

J.

Clark's

of

Similar studies by

books on

Uneasy about "being lumped with the


of
Decisions on balancing
with biographies of
John Pope-Hennessey's book on
sculpture provided
the
model
Baxandall's study of limewood sculpture
Response
Relation
German
on the
More on teaching work the
the book from German
Changes students
Warburg Supervising
from 1960s
1990s More on
about contemporary

work from students


Rather detached from
groups Art
Courbet

social history

social history

artists

individual

Italian

clearest

for

to existing

literature

subject

scholars

to

to

at

dissertations

in

interests

learning

theoretical

history

art"

British art

history journals.

Vlll

TAPE

VI,

SIDE

ONE

120

Developing an

interest in U.S. journals

such as

New Literary History

Warburg
Feminism had impact
Class remained more important Baxandall than gender
The
of turning
or

evidence of developing
work on
he
than those
Baxandall tended
question Student unrest
might answer an
1968 Changes
popular
University of London
Developing
pop music and movies
More on
contemporary
Involvements with
of
On Gombrich's debates
on
Roger Fry
with Adrian Stokes Torn between
Gombrich and deeper emotional attachment
The conceptual framework provided by Ruskin,
and Raritan review

at the

little

to

Institute

poststructuralism

studies

to elite

difficulties

class relationships

cultural objects for

liked rather

objects that

to

at the

analytic

that

after

culture in

in

a taste for

Britain

British

tradition

influence

art

Baxandall's writing

his intellectual loyalties to

to British antiquarian

Fry, Bell,

traditions

and Read central to Baxandall's work, even though


not rigorous enough to sustain

full

their writings

development of an

were

intellectual

question.

SESSION FOUR:

TAPE

VII,

SIDE

Article in

MAY,

1996 (120 minutes)

ONE

133

be

experience
big
Comments

New Literary History, "The Language of Art

History"

Why Baxandall

considers the terms art history and art criticism to

interchangeable

as a conspiracy against

Language

Developing a propositional framework preferred to crafting a

argument

Disinterested in self-reflexive scholarship

Intermingling of
1945 a primary

sense of
experienced
the
Relation of The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany
historiography of
Germany Relation of the
"period eye"
and
processes Trying
reframe
of
"German"
form
and
terms
researching
book
Nuancing
concept of "market"
emphasize forms of
Forces
than exchange of economic
on Kurt

Forster's concepts

of cultural needs

distinct national art-historical traditions after

"epistemological crisis"

the

factor in

in

field

to

early sixteenth-century

to larger social

discussion

non-racialist
his

rather

to

political

a typical

art

Difficulties in

to

valuables

IX

in non-nationalist

the

interaction

that led

Developing

Baxandall to rethink the nature of cultural "markets"

Patterns of Intention to explore relations of ideas to painting forms


Oversimplified conceptions of attention weakened his

and Chardin

Belief

in quality as

art objects as historical

work on Locke

an important factor

evidence Developing

in the

value of

interest in the

psychology of attention and restlessness.

TAPE

VII,

SIDE

TWO

148

Changing perceptions about

role

of teaching

at the

Warburg

Patterns of Intention in part written to exemplify Baxandall's


"Roger Fry trying to
conception of the original Warburgian project

Baxandall's
Cornell
1985
leave
Warburg and
the
University Decision
program
Berkeley Differences
and U.S. modes
education Developing courses
Berkeley Contact
of
with psychology and environmental design departments Cognitive
and shape of Shadows and Enlightenment
and inquietude More on
shadows emerged from work on
Negative response
current research
processes of
On
toBaxandall's
and the Bouguer
Problems with semiotic
of
and
Psychoanalysis and cognitive
do a Warburg"

art-historical lectures at

the

to

in

history

join

art

in British

at

university

at

Interest in

studies

attention

attention

into

Principle"

article "Art, Society,

relation

intellectual

social history

history

TAPE

VIII,

SIDE

art

science.

ONE

164

More on Michael Podro and

their relationship as friends

and mutual

Working with Svetlana Alpers on Tiepolo and Pictorial


The
nature of co-authoring book
Preference
focusing on one
than a
of objects
Legacy of Warburg years Challenge of
year between
Berkeley and London Deteriorating condition of Berkeley
On recent budget
Berkeley and
on the

program On
adequately convey
books' arguments
Conventions of museum photography make many
Comments on
photographs
the

critics

Intelligence

peculiar

object rather

for

class

dividing

libraries

cuts at

history

their effects

selecting illustrations

illustrations that

his

available

unsatisfactory

art

Difficulties in finding

his readership.

175

Index

Richard Candida Smith, Associate Professor of American History and


Director of the American Culture Program at the University of

Michigan, interviewed Michael Baxandall

in his office at the

Department of Art History, University of California, Berkeley.

A total

of 8.33 hours were recorded. The transcript was edited by Katherine


P. Smith.

XI

CURRICULUM VITAE
Michael Baxandall

Born August

18,

1933

Education:

946-5
1951-54
1955-56
1957-58
1959-61
1

The Manchester Grammar School


Downing College, Cambridge (BA 1954,

MA

1958)

University of Pavia, Italy

Germany
Junior Fellow, Warburg Institute,
University of Munich,

University of London

Professional Career:

1961-65

Assistant Keeper, Department of Architecture and Sculpture, Victoria

1965-72
1973-80
1 974-75
1981-88
1982-88
1986-

Lecturer

and Albert Museum, London

Reader

in

Renaissance Studies, Warburg Institute

in the

History of the Classical Tradition,

Warburg

Institute

Slade Professor of Fine Art, Oxford

Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition,

AD.

Warburg

Institute

White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University

Professor of the History of Art, University of California, Berkeley

Fellowships:

982

Fellow of the British Academy

988
988-93

Honorary Fellow of the Warburg Institute


MacArthur Foundation Fellow
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

1990
1992-93

Fellow

Publications (Partial

Giotto

and the

at the

Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin

list):

Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy

and the Discovery

of Pictorial Composition 1350-1450. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.


Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy:

of Pictorial Style.

A Primer in

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

xn

the Social History

The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany.

New Haven

and London: Yale

University Press, 1980.

Patterns of Intention:

On

London: Yale University


Tiepolo

and the

the Historical Explanation

New Haven

and

New Haven

and

and London: Yale University Press, 1995.

Art from the Court of Leonello d'Este: Angelo Decembrio's

Politia Literaria Pars LXVIII," Journal of the

XXVI

New Haven

Press, 1994.

Shadows and Enlightenment.

"A Dialogue on

with Svetlana Alpers.

Pictorial Intelligence,

London: Yale University

of Pictures.

Press, 1985.

De

Warburg and Courtauld Institutes

(1963): 304-26.

"Bartolomaeus Facius on Painting:


illustribus,"

A Fifteenth-Century Manuscript

Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes

of the

XXVII

De

viris

(1964):

90-107.
"Guarino, Pisanello and Manuel Chrysoloras," Journal of the Warburg
Institutes

XXVIII

and Courtauld

(1965): 183-204.

"Hubert Gerhard and the

alter

of Christoph Fugger," Munchner Jahrbuch der

bildenden Kunst XVII (1966): 127-44.


Victoria

and Albert Museum: German Wood Statuettes 1 500-1800. London,

1967.

"Rudolf Agricola and the Visual Arts," Festschrift fur Hanna Swarzenski, Berlin,

1973,409-18.
"Alberti and Cristoforo Landino:

The

Practical Criticism

of Painting," Accademia

Nazionale dei Lincei, Atti del Convegno Internazionale indetto


B. Alberti, 1972,

Victoria

ml

V Centario di

L.

Rome, 1974, 143-56.

and Albert Museum: South German Sculpture 1480 1530, London,

"The Language of Art History,"

New Literary History X(Spring

1974.

1979): 453-65.

"Veit Stoss, ein Bildhauer in Ntirnberg," in Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Veit Stoss


in Niirnberg, Nurenberg, 1983, 3-19.

Xlll

"The Bearing of the Scientific Study of Vision on Painting in the 18th Century: Pieter
Camper's De Visu (1746)," in Allan Ellenius (ed), The Natural Sciences and the Arts
(Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Figura, N.S. XXI), Uppsala, 1985, 125-32.
"Art, Society and the

Bouguer

"English Disegno," in Peter

Principle," Representations 12 (Fall 1985):

Mack

and Edward Chaney

(eds.),

32-43.

England and the

Continental Renaissance, London, 1990, 203-214.

Some

"Exhibiting Intention:

Purposeful Objects,"

in

Preconditions of the Visual Display of Culturally

Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine (eds), Exhibiting Cultures,

Washington D.C., 1990, 33-41.


"Pictorially

Enforced Signification:

Annunciation,"

in Hiille

St.

Antoninus, Fra Angelico and the

undFulle: Festschrift fur Tilman Buddensieg, Cologne,

1993,31-39.
"Fixation and Distraction:

The Nail

in

Braque's Violin and Pitcher (1910)," in John

Onians (ed), Sight and Insight: Essays for E. H. Gombrich, London, 1994.

xiv

SESSION ONE:
[Tape

I,

18

APRIL, 1996

Side One]

SMITH:

We usually start with a very

When

straightforward question.

and where

were you born?

BAXANDALL:
of an

industrial

was born

mining area.

1933

in

spent

Baxandall] was an assistant keeper

in Cardiff,

my

first

which

Museum

department of art. Until the war, when he went into the


boarding school, Cardiff was where

Not

so

much

South Wales, on the edge

in

seven years there.

National

at the

is

lived, so

my

early

air

My father

[David K.

of Wales,

in the

force and

went to

memories are of that

area.

Cardiff itself as South Wales.

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:

live

Yes,

out in the suburbs?

it

was

a suburb called Whitchurch.

elementary school, as they were called

in

England

went

first

to a local

at that time; they're called

schools now. This was Glanynant Elementary School. Then

primary

went for a year or so

to Llandaff Cathedral School. Llandaff is one of the four Anglican dioceses of Wales,

and

it

has a choir school.

SMITH: Was your

family from South Wales?

BAXANDALL: My mother's family was from

South Wales,

my

father's

was from

Yorkshire. He'd gone to Cardiff for the job. He'd been born in London, in fact, but

the family

were very Yorkshire.

SMITH:

Since he

BAXANDALL:

was

a keeper, then he

was

in effect

of himself as an

don't think he'd have thought

have thought of himself more as an antiquary and an


he'd

worked on medieval

thing.

But

his

BAXANDALL:
Cardew, who

is

art,

Yes.

in

contemporary

them and

was

in fact called after

a friend of his, a potter, Michael

style

ethos.

As

of pottery. During the war he went to

because

it,

it

was not only the

art

and

politics

were very mixed


art

up.

in

moved

was

rather

in art

The environment was

of one sort or another, and on the

other hand Quaker settlements, in particular, and pacifism.

to the mining villages.

that

aesthetic, but to a certain extent the

on the one hand contemporary and modernist

was

So

think of Roger Fry as a base from which one

remember

were missions

Bernard Leach,

after

Africa to set up potteries there; there are various books on him.

criticism, simply

of

art.

one of the more interesting English potters,

I still

that sort

then?

because he developed a more simple

the ambiance.

He'd

art historian.

Before the 1939 war,

art critic.

pottery and potteries, excavating

prime interest was

SMITH: Modernist

an art historian?

The Quaker settlements

The south of Wales, from the Depression

deep depression, and these settlements, as they were

called,

were

led

on,

by

Quakers. Not exclusively, maybe, but the general atmosphere was Quaker. All this

went together. You


pacifism.

That's

couldn't distinguish styles of pictures

how I remember

it.

from

political stances

about

SMITH: Did your

BAXANDALL:

family vote Labour?

They would

SMITH: Could you

tell

me

have voted

certainly

little bit

socialist.

They were

about your mother [Sarah

BAXANDALL: My mother was the daughter of an Anglican


canon and rector of Canton

between the docks and the


and a great figure

was

in Cardiff.

railway.

in the family,

married,

suppose,

SMITH: Did

in

is

For

me

was

also a son.

My mother

Before she married, she had

came

after a

She

couple of years.

No, she

didn't.

She should have and could have, but for family

intellectual.

In

it

was

some ways,

a waste that she didn't

think she

BAXANDALL:

was more an

my father.

In terms of her ability to look at the world and analyze

SMITH: Was

a patriarch of the tribe

to say, she ran an office for three barristers.

her late twenties.

She was, so to speak, an

intellectual than

SMITH:

much

he was very

circumstances; and also illness rather stopped that. But

it.

who was

she have a university education?

BAXANDALL:

have

clergyman

standing for obvious moral urgencies.

as a barrister's clerk; that

M. Thomas]?

Canton was a big working-class parish

the second of four daughters. There

worked

I.

socialists.

Her

interest in argument.

And

she

was a

it?

reader, that sort

of thing.

she active in community and political situations?

BAXANDALL:

Not

in this

period much, because our house

kept her busy. There were not only

artists

was always

full,

and that

and so on, but, for example, there was a

socialist traveling theater

local halls, a sort

really her

which went around and gave performances

of mix of plays and songs. They used to stay with

community work, maintaining a base

SMITH: Do you have

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: What

have twin

sisters,

They both went

all

and remained

viewed

in a

BAXANDALL:
them,

it

a cell biologist and

my

still

first in

in Nashville.

in the Scottish universities.

my

Sweden

The other

She married, had

it

sounds

like religion

and

politics

and culture

couldn't say that there

was a

clear intellectual integration of

a matter of correspondences and associations and overlaps. For the

SMITH: Did your

and

you do

She's

worked

by that time

very integrated kind of way.

it,

to the age of seven, this

to university in Edinburgh, because

you're describing,

individuals involved in

which

was

United Kingdom.

in the

Well,

was just

BAXANDALL:

that

for these people.

years, and then in Nashville, Tennessee.

SMITH: From what


were

So

four years younger than me.

One became

did the kind of general degree

children,

us.

siblings?

parents were in Edinburgh.

some

churches or

kind of career choices did they make?

BAXANDALL:

for

in

maybe

was

things

would have been a

in a big

sisters

now

but for me, up

the mix.

parents have enough

Not

bit clearer,

money

to collect art?

way, but they bought contemporary stuff quite a

have.

lot,

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:
my

first

year

at

SMITH: For

No,

didn't

go

didn't

go to Europe

until I

was

eighteen, at the end of

vacation?

We went

in a

jeep or

two months.

the war,

BAXANDALL: No
it

as a child?

went with two other kids from Cambridge.

for about

America, but

didn't.

summer

SMITH: During

raids, not

Europe

Cambridge.

BAXANDALL:
Land Rover

travel to

were you evacuated from Cardiff?

... at

some

was decided not

point in 1940 there

to;

it's

was

the question of us going to

not interesting why.

understanding what they were.

Initially

we went

to school in the second half of 1940, and that

remember enjoying

to the country for a

became impossible, so

air

bit.

was

eventually sent to a boarding school at Chepstow, on the border of England and

Wales, and

spent the next five years there.

SMITH: What

BAXANDALL:
typical.

kind of school

It

was what's

was

that?

called in

England a preparatory school.

It

should say about 120 boys, some day boys as well as boarders.

fairly liberal

school as they went

parents wouldn't have sent

in

me away

can't

It

those days. If it hadn't been for the war,

at that age.

At the end of the war

going to boarding school. This boarding school was


horses played a big part.

was

blame

it

for

much.

liberal,

It

was

and

it

fairly

was a

my

stopped

was very horsey

crippling, in a sense,

think ... no, that's putting

it

too strong ...

don't think

it

was

particularly helpful to

acquiring an outgoing personality, having so early to conduct oneself in a very public

world. There were degrees of infantile depression, but

life

by

it,

as

some people tend

Yes,

holidays because

my

one shouldn't go on
or

kids' parents,

it

was

it

should say that

summers, or for the holidays?


for the holidays.

didn't

go home

for

all

the

parents by that time were living near London, and they just

trains, so a certain

amount of the time

very young

when

I'd

go and

felt

stay with other

the

war

started, but did

you have a

as a surprise to your parents and your grandparents, or did they feel

don't

know about my

grandparents. In the case of my parents, and

this isn't entirely derived

from memories of that time,

derived from hearing them talk

later, I don't

themselves for

it

1939.

scarred for

inevitable?

BAXANDALL:
I

was

stay at school for the short, half-term holidays.

I'd

came

for

went home

SMITH: Of course you were


sense that

don't think

to be.

SMITH: And you went home

BAXANDALL:

it.

don't think

can have

of which the war came.

particularly in 1940.

should he do?

Having been a

It

come

was

pacifist,

partly

think they had mentally prepared

as

much of a

think a lot of their political behavior before that

situation out

it's

was

a big crisis for

surprise

in the

my

and having many

think he must have had a bit of an agony, but

by September

shadow of this

father,

think,

pacifist friends,

what

what he did was

volunteer for the

He

air force.

lost quite a

do remember hearing arguments, but

few of his Quaker friends

don't

at that point.

remember what the arguments were

about.

SMITH: Had your

parents been involved in support

work

for Spain prior to the

BAXANDALL:

No,

SMITH:

can infer from what you've presented, they were probably

So,

if I

don't think so.

anti-Stalinist or anti-Soviet

BAXANDALL: You
remember,

it's

on some

know, here

terribly difficult to distinguish

show

like the

Certainly by the time

SMITH:

level?

again, if I'm trying to confine

know, Russian posters and Russian


about things

So, after the

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: Does

I'd

that

war?

trials,

films

between the

were

can remember their

political

positives, but

or thought about them,

myself to what

and

artistic.

how much

they

don't honestly

political positions,

You

knew

know.

they were anti-Stalinist.

war then?

say even before that, during the war.

mean then they came

to inflect their socialist

views with an

acceptance of the necessity of a cold war policy by the U.K. and the U.S.?

BAXANDALL:
many of them

You know,

think by the end of the

hadn't had

much time

war people were very

and

think

to think through coherent political positions.

these things are terribly nuanced.

period, towards the end of the war,

tired,

was

My main political memory of that

a meeting in

my

parents'

house near London,

after Hiroshima,

would be

and

think that sort of issue

was more urgent than

distorting things to suggest they had a coherent position

Russia.

think

it

by the end of the

war.

SMITH: Most

people

BAXANDALL:

didn't.

They worked very

hard, particularly

my

father, during the war,

and

suppose there were collective feelings of an informal kind about these issues among

worked

the people he

have strong

bombs, but

political interests.

don't think he

SMITH: Did
after the

He

with.

wasn't a deeply political man,

He

was a

my father;

he didn't

voted and he had views on things like pacifism and

politically sophisticated

their aesthetic thinking

and

or interested man.

their aesthetic activities or alliances

change

war?

BAXANDALL:

end of the war, when he was


of the

museum

really,

with his same

in

changed much. Towards the

don't think their artistic allegiances

still

Manchester.

interests.

in the air force,

He

my father

had got the job of director

spent six or seven years there, and he

No,

I'd

went on,

say the continuities were aesthetic and artistic

rather than political.

SMITH: As

director of the

museum, was he involved with

symbolists, through cubists, through neoclassicists

BAXANDALL:
Gallery

Yes, his interests were particularly

more contemporary

stuff.

And

that he

exhibitions of the French

the traditional avant-garde?

in

had to

bringing into the Manchester

fight for,

because the

Manchester

city fathers weren't particularly interested in that,

and that was

his

urgency then.

SMITH: Was
York, or

De

he interested

Stael and

BAXANDALL:
I

Dufy

in the

it

would depend very much on a

think in the late forties

it

would be De

French and English

New

in

in Paris?

think

was happening

kind of abstraction that

painters.

He had

rather tight chronology here.

Stael and that sort

of painter

a lot of English painter friends.

particularly

suspect we,

provincial England, didn't hear about abstract expressionism quite as early as

was some

should; there

time,

think, before that got through.

various arts council committees, and he

known about
until a

good

was

abstract expressionism, but

deal later.

He would

regularly in

don't

London.

remember

some

painters,

Yes.

SMITH: So

Quaker connection was not

for the ethos and

No, though

have

him about

it

and

suppose they were the

He was

born

in

1905,

raised as an Anglican?

BAXANDALL:

BAXANDALL:

He must

was on

40.

SMITH: Were you

the

father

talking with

painters of the twenties and the thirties rather than the forties.

was

my

we

have been interested though, certainly. Like most

people, he had personal allegiances to

so in 1945 he

But

in

I've

religious?

always had a huge respect for Quakers, and a liking

almost the aesthetic, the

style.

SMITH: Your

grandfather

was

in the clergy,

but would you say you were really a

religious family?

BAXANDALL:
wasn't only

Yes,

think on both sides. In

my grandfather who was

too.

In Yorkshire,

there

were a

lot

would say my

think

in

it,

Wales

practically

it

all

was

the Anglican church.

my great-uncles were

in

It

it

more of them were Methodist than were Anglican, and

of lay preachers

in the family

up

there, so

more when he was

father turned to religion

both sides were religious.

older.

He would

have

declared himself as a Christian in 1945.

SMITH: What about your own

developing intellectual interests as a teenager?

Were

they directed towards modern culture, or were you already developing an interest in
the humanists and the European tradition?

BAXANDALL:

don't think

interests as a teenager.

did

can lay claim to having any very focused intellectual

what

novels and that sort of thing. No,

because

was going

had to do

at school,

What

and

after school I read

wasn't an intellectual teenager, but that

to a school in Manchester

rather old-fashioned way.

all

was

partly

where one was worked very hard,

energies one had for thought or mental activity

in a

were

used up by that regimen.

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:
don't

know.

get a foundation in the classics?

Yes.

was

think part of it

in the classical side right

was

that

when

10

through.

got to the school

Why,

in retrospect, I

my Latin was better

than

my French;

that

was one

At a

thing.

later stage,

Manchester Grammar School the two best


mathematics
that if you

were

gymnastics.

In a sort

sixth.

forms were the

sixth

of informal, quiet way,

A bit

going

university,

at

into, say, the history sixth,

aimless, I'm afraid, but

last

sick

which

is

it

was

three years before

this

university.

bit

mixed up

you

and decided

uncle of mine knew,

left

SMITH: Was

if I

did, Latin

know what

did a lot of art

a printer.

to

me

in the

and Greek.

wasn't very well

it

didn't intend to

go

to

in the classical sixth

the equivalent

would be

in

go

had got rather

Through people my

into a very

father and an

good company,

called

books as well as medical books, which

was going

went to university

the idea that you

the fact

but in English schools like this one, the

in grades,

wanted to be

and the

were very well taught.

school were spent in the sixth form.

involved fine color printing. So

them

don't

made arrangements

Lund Humphries. They

useful to

that at

have had to do

I'd

liked English, but

In fact,

teens.

we

classics

where

probably a measure of it, because everybody

always get a

of all

my

a bit anti-intellectual in

Manchester went to

grades,

was recognized by

this

taught, whereas the classics, in an old-fashioned way,

was

was

classical sixth

think that was, quite seriously, the sort of thing that kept

There was a certain amount of English taught.

role

or the mathematics sixth, you didn't have to do

in the classical sixth

classical sixth rather than

gymnastics.

what played a

first.

into that, but they decided I'd

So

at the last

would then come back?

11

moment

be more

applied and went.

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

It

Yes.

wasn't simply a trick to get you into the university?

BAXANDALL:

Not by my

parents.

It

prevaricate, or send the problem away,

SMITH: What

led

Bowra,

at

don't

a trick by the printer to

know. But, no,

that

was

real.

you to go to Cambridge?

BAXANDALL: When
educationist, told

may have been

me

said

wanted to read English, a friend of my

should read two books: one by a

man

called

father's,

Maurice

Oxford, called The Heritage of Symbolism, and the other by a

F. R. Leavis, at

Cambridge, called Revaluation.

of those where to go.

much

He

said

an

M]

[C.

man

called

should decide on the basis

preferred the Leavis.

SMITH: Do you know why?

BAXANDALL:

Yes, because

it

was more

direct

and more

close reading he did, and the rather aggressive tone.

Oxford

style

moralistic,

was

all

sort

of urbane. The Cambridge

of which

SMITH: The postwar


difficulty in

England.

As

style

specific.

saw

it

enjoyed the

at that time, the

was urgent and

scientific

and

liked.

period

is

You were

often talked about as one of great deprivation and

a teenager at that point, but does that assessment

coincide with your experience?

BAXANDALL:
thirteen, to

Yes.

came away from

the prep school

go to Manchester Grammar School, where

12

when

went for

was,

suppose,

five years,

and the

first

word

think of is bleak;

adolescence.

was

was a bleak

it

sorry to have

left

boarding school.

Grammar

School. For several years

it

holidays.

My parents were hard up,

like

much money

my mother had

though

much

to spare.

patch, happening to coincide with

was almost impossible


most people

We lived

in

a gift for

making places

for her to deal with.

a big, cold

to get abroad

at that time,

Edwardian house
homes,

into

Manchester

didn't like

it

in

my

on

so there wasn't

Manchester, and

must have been a

bit

The combination of postwar bleakness, adolescence, and

Manchester Grammar school

you know,

do not want to be young again

in that

sense.

SMITH: Was going away to Cambridge

BAXANDALL:
still

Yes, huge.

rather bleak.

had not

really

then a liberation?

arrived there in 1951, and things in

You had your

butter ration, this

got entirely easy, even then, though

Cambridge things were noticeably getting


ways. Partly

it

was a

release

better.

little bit,

in the

But

from Latin and Greek.

it

switched to English.

any more of those Greek proses.

think for the

too.

SMITH: Can you

You mentioned

pinpoint

some of the

factors that

the moral quality.

13

course of my being

was

time

was

don't think I'd ever had that before, and that

doled out to you. Things

a release in

all

at

sorts

got into Cambridge on

Latin and Greek, but after a term

first

some ways were

decided

was

of

my

just couldn't

do

intellectually excited

part of the release.

were involved

in

the excitement?

BAXANDALL:
and

in a

Well,

sense being taught to read.

although

I'd

Even though

way

traveling each

if

the literature

don't think I'd

what one

did, in a fairly

was

day school

at a

to school, and then there

one was just keeping up, which

seemed

all

came up

against,

been taught to read before,

That was certainly part of the release.

friends, one's behavior,

in school.

excited by

had a very philological education. This was intoxicating, you know, very

exciting indeed.

even

was hugely

as if one

was being

treated like a

in

human

terms, one's

obvious way was a release from being

in

Manchester,

was

is all I

And

whole

was

lot

spent a lot of time

of work to do

at

home,

doing; whereas at Cambridge,

grown up

one

wasn't, really, but

it

it

was

relative.

SMITH: Why

did

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: Was

Because Leavis was

there;

wanted to be taught by Leavis.

he one of your primary instructors?

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: For

you choose Downing College?

Yes, he was

the entire time

BAXANDALL:

the other

Nothing

director of studies.

you were there?

Except for the

SMITH: What were

BAXANDALL:

my

first

two

term,

when

fields that

else, really,

it

was doing

you were examined

was simply

English.

these triposes, and you can change subjects after the

for the second tripos.

At one stage

classics.

first

in?

At Cambridge they have

tripos

and do something

had wondered whether to do classics part

14

I,

else

and

then English for part

studies, but

called

we

II.

but

One who was

had other teachers

me

other hand, said

at the

education, which

SMITH What

BAXAXDALL
SMITH

end of my

may be

true

did Leavis

That

because of this

first

I'd

lot

man

think he

of teaching

been crippled for

life

was

Lea\is. on the

by a

classical

some ways

that'

had a bad. "philological" sense of language

Exactly the thing that a classical training

B.WAXD.ALL:

ex-classicist.

needed a

term that

think in

mean by

me was

very important to

Harold Mason, partly because he himself was an

patient and tender with

Leavis was director of

did English right through

Yes. But

think he

was head of classics

at

SMITH: Could you

talk a little bit

Downing.

It

was

was

is

supposed to provide you with.

getting at the

man

he was reporting

to.

who

son of joke, but only half a joke

about the lecture courses that Leavis gave

when

you were there

B.WAXD.ALL: Downing was


There were quite a

So one went

to

lot

an odd case, because

one or two

What one

weekly one-to-one

tutorials with a couple

that

was

role

really the education

itself a bit

what the man looked

lectures, to see

much of a

So

had a big English school.

of us, and the college tended to conduct

lectures didn't play

papers.

it

did

was go

own

but going to

whom

one had to write

talking with people, and reading

extraordinary extent, lectures were not part of what one did

15

its

to Leavis's seminars, and to

of supervisors for

like,

on

If

To

an

one went to lectures

they tended to be
Lucretius by a

in

man

other subjects. For example,

called

So

stage at Cambridge.

it

Roger

was

[A.

B]

that sort

Mynors,

went to a

who was

series

of lectures on

professor of Latin at that

of lecture one went to rather than English

faculty lectures.

SMITH: What were

BAXANDALL:

the seminars that

you took?

Leavis's seminars typically

worked from reading

a sheet or a couple of sheets with half a dozen or

exercise

Having

was

to attribute, the notion being that

stated your reasons for thinking this

went on to discuss the nature of Hardy's


respects

teacher.

it

was good, and

rather

very big part

it

was

what respects

it

The

Wittgenstein's.

And

you hadn't read.

was

whoever

bad. Leavis

was

find that discriminations

in

what

a very evaluative

way

that

is

of quality played a

linguistic,

or even

Again, the moral and the literary were interfused.

logic valued, or rigor?

Logic of a certain

It

wasn't that he

think he

were

first

was Thomas Hardy, or whoever, you

and the quality wasn't simply technical or

partly moral.

BAXANDALL:

interests

couldn't,

verse, or Blake's, or

awkward. Many people

in this,

SMITH: Was

logic.

you

ten extracts.

In other words, he encouraged discriminations of quality in a

nowadays

literary;

in

if

maybe

You'd have

sheets.

was

sort.

was

Leavis was a friend of [Ludwig]

illogical,

but he did not encourage academic

suspicious of any deductive thinking in criticism. His

in particulars

and

differentiating, not large notions.

16

One

read with huge

attention to detail, and with an eye on

texts.

So

logic didn't play a role.

It

what was individual and

different about these

wasn't analogical, but logic wasn't prominent.

Leavis was a great teacher, and he had a huge influence on

me

in

ways which

weren't simply a matter of style of literary criticism. He's certainly one of the half-

dozen "readers over


this?"

ways

He was

my

shoulder,"

when

hugely important to me.

ask myself, "What would they think of

should say perhaps that Leavis

a rather unpopular man, certainly in Cambridge, and he has been

Every year a book comes out on him and people vent


remarkable person, more remarkable than

his writings

their spite, but

showed,

like

was

much

in

many

disliked.

he was a

many good

teachers.

SMITH: Did you have

a personal relationship with him

beyond the immediate

classroom?

BAXANDALL:
at that time.

too

late.

Not much. He was going through

Also,

think

it

always seems to have been

maybe he was

wouldn't have admitted

a difficult patch; his wife

my fate to

encounter great

was

men

ill

bit

a bit tired of teaching by this stage, though I'm sure he

it.

SMITH: You mentioned Harold Mason. Who were some of the

other English

teachers that you studied with?

BAXANDALL:
college,

when

It

was mainly Mason and

there weren't that

many

Leavis.

teachers.

17

On

You know,

this

the other hand,

was within one


I

learned from

other students,

think in a particular way, in that most of the students at

had gone through school doing English

was a complete

Side

I,

this,

so

with Leavis-trained people, and

picked up quite a

lot

of this rather

mode of criticism.

sectarian

[Tape

outsider coming into

literature

Downing

Two]

SMITH: Why was

Leavis resented?

BAXANDALL:

was resented

It

syllabus for students.

called [Ian

that he

A book came out

was more or

less establishing his

own

private

on Leavis a couple of years ago by a man

Duncan] MacKillop. He goes

into these battles

about syllabuses and so on

at great length.

SMITH: But were you aware of this

at the

time?

BAXANDALL: Oh yes. One was very aware of this,


about

this.

it

lot,

partly because one's friends in the rest

We were a rather enclosed

sect in

SMITH: How many of you were

BAXANDALL:

partly because Leavis talked

of the university were aware of

some ways.

there?

There were about

fifteen in

each year. But

it

worked

because Leavis's and Mason's personalities and interests were very


think they were not on

teaching.

Mason,

foreign literatures.

good

terms, but their differences

for example,

was much more

We used to go

different.

worked very well

interested than Leavis

one evening a week to read Dante

18

rather well

In fact,

in the

was
at his

in

teaching

house,

and

that's

where

I first

started reading Italian.

SMITH: Had you had any

BAXANDALL:

in Italian?

No.

SMITH: But you were

expected to read

BAXANDALL: We read
one had decent

formal training

Latin,

it

it

in Italian?

from an edition which included a

Dante was pretty easy to

read.

rather Latinate, of the Dante type rather than the

remains

parallel English text.

For a long time

modern vernacular

my

Italian

type.

If

was

think

it

so.

SMITH: Did you

study any other languages

at this

time?

BAXANDALL:

Well, you didn't study languages. At this stage in the English tripos,

you took a paper

in

The ones

which you had to comment on extracts from various

remember commenting on were Baudelaire and Dante, Leopardi, and

some Montaigne. You were given


you

set authors.

didn't translate

SMITH: Did you

the text of the original and

you had to comment;

it.

take any history, or did you attend lectures by the history

professors?

BAXANDALL:

No, though

the sort of English

historical facts

in

was being

was very

quite a bit of history.

many ways

taught.

The

there

was

a strong historical element in

relationship to social, cultural,

and

important, so in the course of doing one's literature, one read

English history of course.

19

SMITH: Who were

BAXANDALL:
that sort

the historians that

People

like R.

you were reading?

H. Tawney's Religion

of book, and [Gerald Robert] Owst on medieval preachers, that sort of thing.

SMITH: What about [George Macaulay]

BAXANDALL:

Trevelyan

a bit soft.

If one

was

Trevelyan?

remember not thinking very good.

shorter Social History of England,

me

and the Rise of Capitalism,

didn't read anything

only read the

very big, but

it

seemed

doing, say, John Stuart Mill and utilitarianism, one had to

quite a bit of social history or cultural history, whatever one's going to call

so

much
I

don't

remember having much


lot

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: The
one of its

think

that

do with the history faculty

it

at

Cambridge.

so happened

don't

history.

when language philosophy was very

made Cambridge such

important.

a unique center at the time.

Yes

"linguistic turn," as

it

has

come

to be called, certainly has

Cambridge as

significant centers.

BAXANDALL:
I

but not

Wittgenstein, and of course one thinks of Cambridge,

particularly in the fifties and sixties,

one of the things

to

on who one's friends were, and

had any close friends reading

SMITH: You mentioned

It's

it,

do

political history.

These things depended a


think

to

Well,

it's

difficult to

be quite honest with oneself in retrospect here.

had heard the name Wittgenstein when

20

was a student

at

Cambridge, but

I'd

certainly never read him, and

stood

for.

It's

would

certainly have

been very vague about what he

rather disgraceful, really, but I'd have to admit that

went through

this

period of linguistic philosophy at Cambridge without being very aware of it. Having

said that,

way

it

it

would

also be misleading to say

may have been

the

in

air.

it

had no effect on one, because

find

it

very

difficult

when people ask about

social, or historical events coinciding

was

with one's

own

lot

of things.

one's relationship to cultural,

life.

One would

aware of linguistic philosophy on one hand, but one wasn't.

fully

knowledge of a person's name. On the other hand, one doesn't want


immune, because

people ask about

this sort

know

one should have about

as

much

as

don't think

some

There are curious sorts of resonances between

Wittgenstein and Leavis, too, although they disagreed on a

in

one

is.

like to

It's

say one

often simply

to claim

one was

So, again and again I've had the feeling,

of thing, that

don't really

this,

know how

but there

to reply.

when

didn't

was probably something

seeping through.

SMITH:

Primarily through Leavis?

BAXANDALL:
people.

No,

had friends

Cambridge

if you

it

wouldn't only have been Leavis,

who were

were doing philosophy.

Maybe

would have been other

reading moral sciences, which

certainly didn't get a training in Wittgenstein

seeped through.

it

had friends with philosophical

me

admiring

it

at

interests.

from them, but something probably

simply in their style of talking and

21

was what you read

and

copying

it,

you know.

It's

a fascinating thing,

think, the

way

these sort of osmotic

influences happen, but they are very difficult to plot. I'm thinking

looks

on

at

somebody

in

now

how one

about

1750 to determine what relationship x had to what was going

at the time.

SMITH: Aside from

Wittgenstein,

[W. V.] Quine have passed by you

BAXANDALL:

No, not

in

at this time,

some meaningful way


but both did

much of a

than Wittgenstein. I've never been

been a

would the work of [John Langshaw] Austin, or

later, in

at this

time?

some ways much more

reader of Wittgenstein. There

slight antiphilosophical prejudice in the

Downing English

school,

may have

suppose;

the feeling that, rather as Freud wanted to do psychology without the physiology,

were going

to

SMITH:

would

do

you be expected

literature

like to

we

without the philosophy.

then ask you what the ground assumptions were?

to be familiar with Plato and Aristotle?

Would

mean, beyond simply the

parable of the cave and being able to reference that.

BAXANDALL:

had read a

lot

of Plato

at

Manchester, but that was for the

language, and one's knowledge of philosophy didn't go


ideas of tables in heaven;

much
way
to

it

wasn't

much more

much

than that.

further than there being

don't think

it

got very

further than that at Cambridge, either, really. Leavis's position was, the only

that

you could

make methodical

talk about

method was

to

do a particular job.

statements or to write methodical books.

22

He

always refused

The only way you

could do method was by doing exemplary performance. This

much

discussed and

elsewhere

but

criticized.

in the university,

have mixed feelings about

teaching English,

wasn't taught by them. There

maybe

wasn't compulsory, but

would have

to do.

It

it

was

was

line

it.

has been

much

There were people

who made much more of philosophy,

a paper called the "English Moralists," which

certainly

something one realized one probably

included a certain amount of information at a distance about

classical philosophy, but

it

was not what one could

possibly call a philosophical

course.

SMITH: You

did read Mill.

BAXANDALL:
was

No, not

Did you also read

at that stage.

early nineteenth century, and he

SMITH: Was

it

was

Hume

and Berkeley?

read Mill mainly because

in

my

my

special period

period.

expected that you would have some familiarity with Kant and Hegel

and German idealism?

BAXANDALL:
everything

was

No. Again,

had been taught

for the best, and

on

really

SMITH:

school that Hegel thought

Schopenhauer thought everything was for the worst,

and Nietzsche couldn't quite make up

was

at

his

mind.

You know, my

sense of philosophy

this level.

This

is in

humanism, does

some ways skipping ahead, but

this

become

a problem?

as

Of course

the grounding?

23

you move

not the

into the study

of

modern philosophy, but

BAXANDALL:

The

lack of training, yes.

never to have been trained

of philosophy.

do think

in

I still

rigorous thinking,

this is a

time had been spent on a

Warburg

but at the

had

that,

and

SMITH:

BAXANDALL:
think

lot.

almost

But

at

read very

looked

art

at

little.

in

was

it

wish

had had more.

I've

wish,

verses, that

my

never taught philosophy as such,

you can teach

it

as a

skill.

still

to develop your interest in art history.

quite separate

from those

never

is

It

issues.

had to do with adolescent tension with one's

father. I

an English word which covers

already interested. In fact, something called the Arts

my rooms

suppose

in

my

second year, and

went from books

in

we

had

my father's

visiting speakers.

house, which

I'd

but not really read, to trying to find at Cambridge books which talked about

like the relevance

literary criticism.

Italian Painters

that because

history

disability,

alone philosophy, and the history

a point of not being "arty." Arty

Cambridge

with something

good

when you began

think partly

Society used to meet

I'd

of real philosophy.

time you were

made

immense

as an

a weakness.

it's still

if at this

it

Greek verses and Latin

Institute I've taught dialectic;

I'm not sure

sounds as

bit

let

weakness, and

instead of spending hours and hours writing

feel

books

remember Phaidon brought out a cheap

of the Renaissance by [Bernard] Berenson, and

had a

it

and urgency and precision of what

lot

of pictures. But

remember

liking

didn't get

on with

that.

considered

edition of the

think

The

even bought

first

two

art

were [Heinrich] Wolfflin's Classic Art, and Erwin

24

Panofsky's Meaning in the Visual Arts.

over; that

was simply

found

really exciting,

that here

had read some

Panofsky for

was

art criticism

me marks

SMITH: Was

although

man doing
which

it's

bowled me

not like Cambridge literary criticism.

It

a tight, clean job, looking closely at pictures.

quite liked,

Roger

Fry, and other people, but

a beginning interest in art history.

[Nikolaus] Pevsner

BAXANDALL:

[Panofsky's book] in particular

Pevsner was

still

Cambridge?

lecturing at

still

Slade Professor.

He came down and gave

a lecture

on Friday night and another one on Saturday morning, and he had a few graduate
students.

think Francis Haskell and Michael Jaffe,

graduate students of his

operated the slides for them.

Market
sort

in

Cambridge.

It

went

was a

are older than

tidy lectures;

I,

were

once or twice

big audience, so Pevsner lectured in the

if I felt like

it

Corn

and had nothing better to do, because the

of chronological going through things which he was doing, while I'm sure was

admirable, wasn't particularly what

courses.

of,

They were

at that time.

who

and

it

was

remember there was one on

was

that

one

that

because he'd got quite a

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:

lot

talk to

after.

sculpture.

don't

remember very much about

That's the only one

occasionally did the slides for, which

was

remember

quite a job,

of slides.

him ever?

No.

SMITH: Did you have any

interaction with [Anthony] Blunt at that time?

25

his

bits

BAXANDALL:

Not

SMITH: Did you know

BAXANDALL:
I

was

think

No,

in Italy

SMITH: Probably

wasn't around.

Francis Haskell?

didn't

during

my

know

Francis Haskell or Michael Jaffe. Francis Haskell

patch.

Who

yes, actually.

BAXANDALL: One is a man


from

He

at that time.

called

He

classics to English later on.

were the students

Roy Summers, who


did

on

first

my

it

whom

was with him and another man,


abroad

first real trip

France.

art

year

He was

in

in this

jeep

many ways, though

you were

I still

see.

closest to?

He

followed

me

two years of classics and then followed me

across to English, and later became an architect. He's

my

that

an architect. At the end of

still

don't see anymore, that

mentioned, through

Germany and

primarily in architecture,

and more active about finding out about

art

than

Italy

went

and

more informed about

was. So he

is

one important

friend.

Another important
disappeared from

him.

It

my ken.

was a period when

friend

was

I've tried quite

a lot

though

it

absolutely

brilliant.

who

has sort of

hard to find out about what happened to

may have been an

did happen in other schools as well.

think, immediately after leaving

was

called Richard West,

of the brighter students turned against the academic

thing and didn't want to continue. This

particular,

man

Cambridge.

don't

aspect of Leavis's school in

West became

know what happened

Certainly one important thing that

26

a gardener,

happened to

to him.

me

at

He

Cambridge was keeping up with Dick West


Again, this

stupidity.

are important:

and

I've

is

you know, simply not betraying

a difficult sort of thing to describe and weigh, but these things

always had

this

admiration for really clever, mentally agile people,

always had one or two of these types around

I've

SMITH:

know

this is a

at

very subjective kind of thing, but

It's

clearly.

keep quite complex

why

SMITH:

Yes,

schemes

in

mind, and to

don't.

move

It's

field

of

partly an

within them

admired for

I've

their cleverness,

and

I still

do.

This

is

one

not simply the rigor, there's a playfulness that can take place.

it's

Yes, yes, and there's a sort of aestheticism

in

the process of thinking,

find hugely attractive.

SMITH: Cambridge,
male environment.

in the

period you were there,

was

take

it

an almost entirely

Is that true?

BAXANDALL:

There were

Girton, and there

was

girls.

logical

which

any

regret not having been philosophically trained.

BAXANDALL:
which

recognize

think of it as a sort of athleticism. Ever since I've been at school, there have

always been these people


reason

how do you

partly a quickness, partly an ability to see early on, in

things, important differentiations, important differences,

ability to

any time.

you what are the markers?

cleverness, or for

BAXANDALL:

one's

in

those days two women's colleges,

also a teacher's training college called

There was great competition to know the

27

girls that

Newnham

and

Homerton, which had

were

there.

wasn't very

successful in that; the girls

imbalance rather than a

because

at

knew were

outside of Cambridge.

Things had loosened up a

stiffness.

lot

think

was an

it

because of the war,

Cambridge, unlike Oxford, most people had done two years National

Service, in the

was assumed

army or whatever, before coming

that

would be turned down

to the university.

didn't, in fact;

for National Service because

had a

kidney which was the wrong shape, though minds were changed about that

was unusual

at

Cambridge, and maybe a

little bit

disadvantaged

younger. Not only two years younger, but a great deal younger

one reason why

it

was

a release to

grown-ups, you know.


student at Cambridge.

It

was not

So what

in

it

later.

So

think in being

This

experience.

go to Cambridge, because one was joining

is

real

possible to be the old-fashioned, monastic kind of

remember of it was an imbalance

rather than

restrictions in that way.

SMITH: Were

there

women

intellectuals

who were

in

and out of your

circle

of

friends?

BAXANDALL:

There were. One or two

I still

Summers's wife was a contemporary of ours


others

sometimes saw, but

certainly wasn't

more glamorous and

distinguished

SMITH: Were

many

there

at

women

see occasionally; for example,

Cambridge. There were one or two

conspicuous

in

having success with the

intellectuals.

foreign students in your section, in

example?

28

Roy

Downing,

for

BAXANDALL:

Not many Europeans. There were

Australia and Africa, and a certain

Europeans. England
ways: partly

at that stage

politically, partly

number of Americans, but remarkably few

was

still

very cut off from the continent,

from simple things

business one had to go through to get enough

something, and

money

"Continentals," so to speak, at Cambridge, but

in

curious

currency regulations. The

like

to

go abroad was quite

this stands for a general isolation I think.

SMITH: Were

number of people from

a certain

knew

So

quite a

there intellectual differences between the

did not

know

few Americans.

men and

the

women, or

between the Britons and the Americans, or the Australians? Were there

interesting

kinds of exchanges?

BAXANDALL:

Not

think between the

mainly been to schools very

like the

men and

the

women. The women had

men's schools, with a very similar sort of

education, so in that respect they weren't that different from us.

the other hand, had often done a previous degree in America and

Cambridge

to

do a

sort

The Americans, on
were coming

of second degree, which meant that they knew a

and they had a sophistication

they'd been about.

I'd

say one learnt

Americans than from the women, you know, taking them as a

class,

lot

of things,

more from

BAXANDALL:

develop any friendships amongst the Americans that lasted?

No.

29

the

simply because

they had access to things one didn't have oneself.

SMITH: Did you

to

SMITH: A

couple of other people have mentioned that there was a style

of saying what was on your mind, regardless of the consequences.


that

was

in the

Was

at this

time

that an ethos

Leavis group?

BAXANDALL:

think yes

frankness and

a certain enjoyment in irritating other

people.

SMITH: An enjoyment

BAXANDALL:

in irritating

mean simply

them, or an enjoyment in just getting a response?

getting under the skins of people

or disapproved of in this or that way.

hadn't thought of that but that does

one

didn't

much

suppose that was a part of the period

fit in.

like,

style.

Are you thinking of this as a general period

style?

SMITH:

Actually, no,

mentioned
extensive

who were

it

just

something that a couple of other people have

in British universities at this time,

so I'm wondering

think in those days there

still

going back to the nineteenth century, and

not to outrage, but

it

was

existed something like a

it

part of a slightly puritan concern with honesty,

elsewhere there was a preoccupation with outraging others.


particularly, but as

said,

it's

more

Cambridge

did involve great frankness.

issues out and discussing them, not sweeping things under the table.

them.

how

was.

BAXANDALL:
style,

it's

don't

It

It

was

and getting

may be

remember

that

that

a matter of getting under people's skins, provoking

hadn't thought of that.

30

SMITH: We've been


sound

asking people

like a strange question, but

it

how

they dressed at this time.

how you

does get to

know

that might

presented yourselves to each

other.

BAXANDALL:

went through a stage

extreme aestheticism
loom, and
the time

wore them

was

rationing.

stopped by

in

in

don't

this

my

dress.

in this rather stuffy

used to weave

my own bow

Cambridge, and of course one thing to keep

know when

worn with

toggles and a hood.

still

didn't

suits;

cavalry

drill

about.

trousers.

didn't myself; those

So

my own

That passed by

mind was the clothes

what one wore

drill

trousers

at

those were

A lot

A lot

of people

didn't

worn during National

wasn't

on the whole

think

made

rather a

Service.

Their dress uniforms?

No, but

things, for example, like purple berets.

of purple beret which you were

so those were

worn

of people wore duffle coats with

considered unstylish, although

one did on the whole wear jackets.

BAXANDALL:
sort

Tweed jackets. One

point of still wearing clothes which they'd

SMITH:

on

myself wear chukka boots, which were suede

trying to be stylish in any particular way.

wear

in

school, of

clothes rationing stopped in Britain, but even if it had

time the atmosphere was

of narrow kind of khaki.

boots, ideally

ties

to school, partly in order to irritate people.

Cambridge. Corduroy or gray flannel trousers, or cavalry


sort

grammar

entitled to if you

without badges of

course.

31

There was a certain

had done a parachuting course,

We were a pretty unstylish lot.

think our vanity didn't center

much on

dressing, partly because

one had grown up

in

clothes rationing culture.

SMITH: What

did

BAXANDALL:

One admired and

envied very

center on then?

it

think very

much on

intelligence,

and very much on experience.

much people of unusual

experience.

reckoning on culture; that was a rather antisuccess world,

and experience. Speaking for myself, the


at that stage

make

would have been a

intelligent novels.

full life,

sort

with

of life

full

That was what one was

think.

One
It

wasn't

was

would have wanted

intelligence

to have had

experience, out of which one

after.

Success with

would

girls, certainly,

but that's part of experience, or was. But not clothes.

SMITH: Did you have any

BAXANDALL:

No,

connection with the Apostles?

that wasn't a

Downing

thing.

was nowhere near

that sort

of

circle.

SMITH: What
you were

at

about your interests

Cambridge?

you probably

It

sounds

didn't follow that

BAXANDALL: Not
interests in visual art

medieval, whereas

entirely.

contemporary

like

literature,

drama, and

you might have had enough of art

art

at

when

home, so

too closely.

suppose

were towards

my

in

had some resistance to

earlier periods, particularly the

interests in literature

were contemporary.

reading contemporary poetry and contemporary novels.

32

it.

think

my

Renaissance and
spent a lot of time

SMITH: Did you have

BAXANDALL:
[F.

T]

poetry

were

Yes,

authors that were model authors for you?

Prince, and William

liked

in fact

and

They were a very mixed bunch. There was a poet

did.

still like.

Empson's poetry

it

was

the sort of

me

not English; they were novels by continental writers, which had been

very important. But one

ephemeral stuff of the time quite a

was

admired very much;

suppose quite a few of the novels that interested

Thomas Mann was

translated.

called

a sort of cult

lot too.

book during my time

at

was reading

the

more

Angus Wilson's book Hemlock and After


There were quite a few poetry

Cambridge.

magazines one read. The names of the people haven't survived very much, though

one of the people one admired was Thorn Gunn, who

was

a couple of years earlier than

me

is

now

and had read English

in

He

San Francisco.

So there were

at Trinity.

one's actual contemporaries one read and admired.

SMITH: Did you have

BAXANDALL:
a

way

that

the movies.

and

it

an interest

had a normal

didn't later.

Drama

was very

drama or

film?

interest in film.

That was

went to quite a

really a specifically

Cambridge

not so much, because there wasn't that

difficult to

SMITH: Were you

in

go

to

London

lot

of films,

thing,

much drama

yes, in

going a
in

lot to

Cambridge

for an evening.

reading Freud at this time? This

was

the heyday of

psychoanalysis.

BAXANDALL:

seem

to

remember reading a book about Freud, but

33

didn't read

Freud properly.

went through a patch of being very interested

beyond Cambridge.

lasted

called,

in

Carl Jung, which

had just a "gentleman's knowledge," as

it

used to be

of Freud.

SMITH: Could you

say that in

some way Jung

your work,

inflected

at least in the

early stages?

BAXANDALL:
I

had a general

In

some

respects, yes, because

interest in impulses to restraint,

find

Jung impossible to read now, whereas

lot.

think what

wise man, and

viable.

old wise

SMITH:

all

liked about

these figures.

think one can use

man
I

in particular,

it

It's

in a

was already

and

this

interested in restraint.

went on

for

sense the literariness of it

a very literary psychology, and

in criticism in a

many

recently have been reading

way

that

is

it

make me

years.

Freud rather a

all

the old

is critically

The

attractive.

standing for certain restraint, interested

hadn't connected this, but Jung does

Was Leavis

me

figure of the

quite a

lot.

think of Northrop Frye.

referring to Frye at all?

BAXANDALL:

Leavis was referring to Frye

no more. One knew


pursue him

Jung was

in

who

had to know what Frye stood

BAXANDALL:

is

and one looked

Frye was and roughly what he was up

way one pursued John Crowe Ransom,

the

SMITH: There

in passing,

for,

but no

more than

to,

at Frye,

but

but one didn't

or someone like that.

One

that, really.

a connection there with Jung.

can't frankly

remember how

34

came onto

Jung.

think

some

friend

told

me

about him.

SMITH: He was

quite popular at the time, so

bookstore, or even the train station, perhaps.

all

you had to do was go to the

What about

existentialism?

local

Were you

following that?

BAXANDALL:

had a very vague sense of existentialism;

it

really

was

a vulgarian's

sense.

SMITH:

It's

hard to see

BAXANDALL:
[Tape

II,

There was

could avoid

it

in the fifties.

Greco.

Juliette

Side One]

SMITH: At

New Left

how you

that time

how aware were you of New Left

political criticism?

[E. P.]

Thompson

is

and also

cultural criticism,

beginning to publish

at this time,

and Raymond Williams.

BAXANDALL:
certain

That certainly one was aware

of.

think there had always been a

amount of awareness about some of it, because

after

all,

there's a continuity

between Tawney's Religion and the Rise of Capitalism and Thompson.

remember reading the New Left Review


but

it

wasn't big in

many of these
Statesman.

are,

but

my reading. On

people's thinking one

My political

allegiances

as such at that time.

the other hand, this

came across even


were

in

certainly that

don't think these things played a large part in

35

is

I've

don't

no doubt

saw

it,

a matter of diffusion, and

something

way, and

my

in

like the

New

many ways

intellectual

life.

still

had

New

Lettish positions of a rather philistine sort;

Williams

knew

of,

Thompson

don't

remember

SMITH: Did you know of either of them

Raymond

them.

didn't intellectualize

reading.

as literary figures as well as historians or

theorists?

BAXANDALL:

Not

at that time.

Later

had a great admiration for one of Raymond

Williams's novels, called Border Country, which seems to

novel.

Not

and a

great,

bit stiff,

but interesting.

To be

trying to think of other names.

honest,

think of the Perry Anderson phase, which

political positions, but

didn't

them, or intellectualizing

is

me

a really interesting

A creditable novel,

when

think of

ten years later in

think.

New Left

my

life.

I'm

intellectuals,

had convinced

spend much time thinking about them, or reading about

at that time.

SMITH: You mentioned

in

passing that perhaps you had a goal of becoming a

novelist?

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

general sense of what

Cambridge,

can't

thirty to settle

I still

was

do.

I've just finished a novel.

a respectable

remember when

down. The way

it

way

was,

to spend one's

decided

think

life.

it

was

more

At some stage

would give myself until

to spend one's twenties

was

to travel,

at

was

you know,

teaching English abroad, that sort of thing, and to build up this experience out of

which one would be able to write good novels. To some extent


novel did play a bigger role

in intellectual life

36

think then than

it

kept to

that.

The

does now, partly

because people

now have more

forms have come

it

used

in

the

my feeling

but

to,

early to Cambridge,

my

to.

Other

could even say that poetry plays a more expansive role than

that the novel in a

is

So, because

fifties.

maybe

One

in.

access to drama and movies than they used

hadn't

way

has lost the special position

done National Service, and because

project for the next ten years

was

to

had

had gone

go abroad

it

to live and

write.

SMITH: And

BAXANDALL:
this stage that

you go abroad?

did

was going

arrangements with the unit

was turned down, so

One of the

was

Well, what happened

things

when

that

I left

to be doing National Service.

was going

Cambridge

did organize in that year

was

thought

at

had even made

to get myself allotted to in

spent a rather disorganized year

Hamburg, but

bumming around

the next year in

Italy.

in

England.

got a

research grant to go to the University of Pavia for a year, and then in the course of

that year

decided

ought to learn German, so

international school for a year to earn

that

money and

went to the University of Munich

during that year

SMITH:

got a job as lecturer

went and taught


to learn

for a year, again

in

at a

Swiss

German. The year

on a research

grant.

after

Then

English at the University of Baghdad.

In '58?

BAXANDALL:
of spending

Yes, which was not the time to do

my vacations

in

that.

Lebanon, but, as you know,

37

had these beautiful plans

in '58

they killed the king

and there was a revolution, so


that point that

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:

in

No, the

really doesn't

these years,

MA.

Courtauld

degree, and

it

at

after.

Institute.

was

BAXANDALL:

did

You

initially in

at

is

London, and

it's

at

an informal way. So, of

Cambridge?

something that comes automatically

a small fee, and

academically.

do was

register to

if

you become M.A. instead

was studying various

to the visual arts, but no,

things

didn't write

do an external B.A.

in art history

could simply take the exams after a time and get a

useful to have a frame within

studying art history, so

SMITH: Did you

MA.

You pay

mean anything

What

drifted to

did spend abroad.

Cambridge

more and more moving

anything for the M.A.

at the

write a thesis for your

you get a B. A., three years


It

to Baghdad.

got involved with the Warburg,

the four years after Cambridge, three

of B.A.

go

didn't

which one could present oneself as

did that.

take the exam?

Yes,

took the exam and

got a B.A.

in art history.

Not

a very

good one, an upper second.

SMITH: But you

didn't take classes at the

Courtauld?

BAXANDALL:

No.

SMITH: So

was while you were studying abroad?

this

BAXANDALL:

Yes. The University of London has always done a certain amount

of external degree giving, and you could,

if you

38

negotiated

it

and showed that you had

knew what you were

access to the right books and showed that you

doing, simply

take the same papers as the Courtauld students took, without going to the classes,

and get graded on the same

basis.

SMITH: What were you doing


exploring

life

in Italy

and Germany? Were you attending classes or

there?

BAXANDALL:

Yes. In both countries

around. Pavia

in Italy traveling

is

my base,

but

or five

weeks on the

still

Caretti at Pavia,

attributing

many

to

road, and that

who

go

lot.

to.

in the

it

has these

Collegio Borromeo,

went to lectures when

Pavia was where

worked very

in that

well.

it's

Pavia

went to

in

refit after

itself wasn't

more or

was

a terribly

less a suburb, is

man

four

very

called Lanfranco

taught literature, and he gave an excellent, very thorough course

art historian

mode on

spent a lot of my time

very fond of Milan. There was a very good

on [Torquato] Tasso, which

The

had a room

though Milan of course, of which

interesting town,

interesting; I'm

traveled around a

Pavia, but there weren't that

an unusual Italian university

baroque, seventeenth-century colleges.

which was

attended classes.

attended.

was an Armenian

called [Edoardo] Arslan,

mainly Venetian Renaissance painting.

He

who worked

lectured for a

in

an

whole

semester, once a week, on a minor Venetian painter called Lazzaro Bastiani, using the
course, really, as an example of how you put together a corpus of the painter's

by

attribution.

It

was

interesting,

and

don't regret having heard

39

it.

He

works

used rather

bad black-and-white

slides,

Pavia phase, partly through


rather than literature.

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:

but his were the only lectures in art at Pavia, and in the

my

traveling,

good

was already

had gone there to do

shifting

over to the visual

Yes. In Pavia

it

was mainly

who

moved

saw

last year,

didn't particularly get

room

in a

suburb was that a society was

had friends and company, and


had friends

in

on

with.

One of the

six

weeks or

forgotten

knew

it

was

it,

got to

know

there and

how

to speak English.

so,

had friends elsewhere too.

went to the

Rome

British School in

see him occasionally. In a curious way,

had

hadn't spoken any during the winter, and although

I'm not a facile speaker anyway, and after a winter of not speaking English,

curiously difficult to join in the British School social

English indeed

too

English,

thought.

So the

lectures

life,

which was very

went to

at

Pavia were

mainly Caretti and Arslan.

SMITH: What about

BAXANDALL:

in

Munich?

Munich was

which wasn't particularly successful. There was

I still

go and

on for one, so one very quickly

was very good. But

Milan, and at the end of the winter

and stayed there for

one man

that

laid

who

a Frenchman,

things about being allotted to a Collegio like this rather than having to

find a

in?

a matter of the people at the Collegio.

German, who

touch with, and a Spaniard,

arts,

literature.

develop any friendships there, or a community that you

Partly Italians, a couple of Danes, a

I've lost

much more

serious affair, partly because the

40

university

was more

and also

serious,

got serious about art history by that stage.

I'd

My going to Munich resulted from a suggestion by one of my Danish friends in Pavia


to read the

work of Hans Sedlmayr, who was ordinarius

with a view to working with Sedlmayr that

many

other people at the university.

In the

first

semester

was

registered in the normal

My uncritical

at

Munich

of Sedlmayr's courses. In the second semester


wasn't a quarrel or anything, but there

Sedlmayr, and also

moved down

learnt

was

Institute for teaching,

though

taught.

had

interest in

slightly fallen

a slight stiffness

paid

Sedlmayr

was taking both

out with him.

between

to disapprove

me

It

and

of certain

My main preoccupation in the

rather drifted

went to a

registered as a proper student at

things.

lot

of other courses

Munich

as

But you did some history and philosophy as

SMITH: Were

at

the university. If you

was, you had to do a certain range

BAXANDALL:

well,

which

there things that were discussed in Italy and

some ways from


Yes. They

the questions that

knew

art history in

my

I did.

Germany

that

you had been discussing

different literatures,

41

second

from the university to the Central

of courses. About two thirds of them would be your main subject

different in

really

the road from the university to the Central Institute for Art History,

semester was his seminar. So

case.

was

It

German way and

was working and

more about him and began

where Karl-Ludwig Heydenreich

were

Munich.

went to Munich, though there were

fees for a normal range of art history courses.

didn't last.

at

at

were
Cambridge?

and they had different

politics.

What was very

important to

You

[Antonio] Gramsci.

me

in Italy

asked about

was

my

primitive indeed at Cambridge, but once

Gramsci

important.

year.

find Italian

think that really

sympathetic.

It still

SMITH: When you


would

interest in the

much

would be the main general

Marxism hugely

New Left.

It

was very

got to Italy and discovered Gramsci, or had

out for me, because Gramsci was very

laid

I still

the discovery of Italian Marxism, and

in

the

became very

intellectual revelation

and congenial.

attractive

that

air,

It

of that

just feels

does.

returned to Britain, in '58,

naturally drift over to the

it

me

seems to

to

make

sense that you

Warburg, but did you already have connections

there?

BAXANDALL:

No,

didn't.

I'm not exactly sure

there to find out about research fellowships.

that time, because the revolution

did offer

me was

did for the

a day and a half a

whole

year.

abroad, and probably

During that year


reading

more
I

What

can't

happened

my

was

I still

in

little bit

parents topped

it

it

happened.

Of course I was

think

in the

of money

up a

bit,

so

went

too late for anything by

the summer, in Baghdad, but

week working

had a

how

what they

photograph collection, which

left

over from the years

was

able to

partly reading for that Courtauld external

manage

that year.

exam, and partly

generally.

remember

do know

is

that

the exact circumstances in which

went to the Warburg.

had no idea what the Warburg was when

42

went to

it.

had

not learned

sort

of art

in

Germany anything about

history.

the

remember going and

Warburg

was

really

Gertrud Bing

SMITH: Did you have any

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: And

Well,

also

was
very

known

had

my

semester's lectures

suppose

it

late for that year,

but

more or

It

less.

on Lazzaro Bastiani.

must have given one certain routines and procedures.

various people doing

One of my Danish

this.

who

friends at Pavia,

was studying Romanesque Lombard

sculpture,

which

is

a connoisseural matter, even if it's not a matter of artists' names, but

SMITH: What

in

my

in that

training.

about your exposure to formal analysis, or formalist analysis?

BAXANDALL: One of the first books that


and

was too

off the street,

in

connoisseurship hadn't played a big part

Art,

it

training in connoisseurship?

in fact a novelist mainly,

much

a quite different

did that develop an eye?

BAXANDALL:
I'd

was

meantime, what about the photo collection?

in the

who took me

It

talking with Gertrud Bing, the director,

about the possibility of support, and her saying


should try for the next year, and

Institute.

had impressed

sense that would be important. But what

me was

Wolfflin's Classic

remember seeking

in

those

days wasn't so much a method or a rationale for doing a certain sort of thing

connoisseurship

or whatever

as a terminology, or concepts

one to make discriminations about these


one reason why

liked Wolfflin,

things.

What

which would enable

wanted was concepts. This

is

suppose, because he offers concepts which you can

43

use.

And

also he

was doing

close observation, which

fitted the literary critical training I'd had.

went

into a

museum,

think, insofar as

liked, partly

But connoisseurship came


ever did any of that.

44

because that

later,

when

SESSION TWO: 26 APRIL,


[Tape

1996

Side One]

III,

SMITH: Before we
what we discussed

got going

wanted to see

you had any further thoughts about

anything you wanted to add or augment or

Is there

last time.

if

amend?

BAXANDALL:
themselves, and

No,
I

Obviously, everybody likes to talk about

don't think so.

could go on indefinitely, but

think

SMITH:

Well, please feel free to go on as long as you

in this.

did have a

guess also

at

few

Pavia and

BAXANDALL:
at

you

at

Munich.

certainly had

Lehmann Brockhaus, who was

fact,

it

was down

wasn't until

can indulge yourself

Cambridge, and

the role of archival

projects or specific hands-on training

of archival research?

Munich, and there was one course

documents.

was wondering about

Have you had any

into the perils

No,

You

like.

further questions about your education at

research in your education.

that introduced

won't.

none
I

at

had

Cambridge, nor

in

mind. There

at Pavia.

was a man

was going

to

called [Otto]

a great archival paleography scholar of medieval art

for his course, but he

was working on

Italian

was

ill,

so

missed out on

that.

humanists some years later that

In

ever got

into an archive.

SMITH: So

that training

BAXANDALL:

was

would say

professional, or

on the job

wasn't really trained,

45

at the

Warburg?

just struggled.

Unlike some of

my

students,

don't have great archival

should do for students

is

in training for this.

would

a generalized training

how

archive in Mantua, or wherever, learn

worried a

about what one

lot

curiously difficult because each archive

It's

so different, and each area of paleography

work out what

I've

skills.

is

so different that

be,

it's

They need

find.

very

to

go

difficult to

into the

arranged, and learn the hands.

it's

I've

always found that although one can learn a certain amount of paleography about

scripts,

about abbreviations, and the

SMITH: Obviously you were


what about

training in the

No,

again,

those things. Trial and error

SMITH: Did you


did

feel this

you worry about

BAXANDALL:

taught

more

how

was

five,

more

generally

didn't

more than

started

to read a text critically

was completely

was

new.

lot

in

of error,

I've

questions of
and authorship?

like dating

untrained.

by Leavis. But

never had any course on

no doubt.

any way a hindrance to what you wanted to do, or

it?

my Latin was

Greek, which

is

technical aspects of philology

worry about

it

worried about was other inadequacies,

each hand

and even simple things

interpretation, hermeneutics,

BAXANDALL:

rest,

maybe

as

much

like languages.

as

Although

never really good. Oddly enough,

much

later.

So

it

was

was worrying about how

that sort

to think.

lacking these particular professional

46

did

What

started Latin

was more

of thing

That

skills,

should have.

at

when

ease with

worried about.

And

worry about, much

partly because

was never

quite

clear

was going

to stay in this

field.

wasn't preparing myself programmatically for

something.

SMITH: Would you

say that most of the materials you've relied

on were published

already, in the sense of old books, rather than manuscripts?

BAXANDALL:
critics [Giotto

One would be

Yes, with two exceptions.

the

work on humanist

and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the

Discovery of Pictorial Composition 1350-1450], where

did systematically

around looking for manuscripts of things which had dubious printed


could get a better
think that's

text.

When

there

was

later at the Victoria

in a

very useful way, which

printed text, that's

got a

and Albert

bit

Museum on

there people

BAXANDALL:

Yes.

was

how

used.

was when

was

German

But

that didn't

to transcribe an account book.

you could turn to who were experts

in the

economics?

A man who was very helpful was Norbert Lieb, who was

professor of German art history

bronze sculpture

sixteenth-century

transcribed and published.

involve an archival search. That involved learning

SMITH: Were

texts, so that

what

involved in this

go

They had a very elaborate account book

sculpture done for the Fugger family.

arranged

good

The other occasion when

fair.

working much

art

who worked

editor of the journal

SMITH: When you were

was
at

at

Munich. [Hans

at the

R] Weihrauch was

a scholar of

Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich.

publishing in and he helped too.

Munich was Ernst Buschor

47

still

there?

He

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:
was

No.

never had any connection with him.

Several of the people we've interviewed had taken classes with him, so

interested to see if we could get different perspectives.

speaks of that period, the

of what he
tradition

calls

fifties in particular, in

and just a return to

Not

facts.

entirely,

Would

because

in art history,

and although that

students, in those days

in the

it

department

with Hans Sedlmayr's

think

my

who went

One was

now

is

certainly

and that was

at that

last time,

the university, the university

huge, with a couple of thousand

who were
in

But there were one or two other people,

very different.

Munich

moved

the Zentralinstitut

positivist, I

time but did later

museum

people,

found

along with or were not totally out of sympathy

idealist art history.

second semester

mentioned

was fragmented.

it

idealist

your experience?

flir

a lot in a second center,

suppose.

when

who were

A third center,

was working on

different

which

Kunstgeschichte, where

Heydenreich gave a superb course on Federigo da Montefeltro, which


for,

being a period

only had about a hundred students. There were quite a few

[Ernst] Strauss, for example,

In

art history as

that ring true with

think

three different sorts of center in Munich.

people

Willibald Sauerlander

"would-be positivism," the rejection of much of the prewar

BAXANDALL:

seminar

German

which

sculpture,

didn't

did a paper

encounter quite

was composed of the

and very varied, and tended to be connoisseurs,

sometimes of things which weren't taught

in the universities.

48

was going

to say they

were of varied

ideological backgrounds, but that

general views of what the job was,

current

was

SMITH:
[E.

H]

positivist, if that's

In '59,

would

say.

quite right; they had varied

So

wouldn't say the dominant

what positivism means.

when you were

hired at the

Warburg, were you hired by Bing or by

Gombrich?

BAXANDALL:
whom

isn't

It

was Gertrud Bing,

really revere

a great person

She was an unbelievably

fine reader

which she wrote over. Even

if

she

really,

who

who took me

of other people's work.

absolutely infallible sense for where one

was

sliding a bit

was away

sure of the dates of this. During the year

was working

which

was

may have been

mentioned, he

was

that year.

Illusion,

certainly

Bing who got

it

a person

I've

got

still

did.

typescripts

in

too quick. She was a really

America.

in the

didn't

Now I'm not

dead

photo collection,

encounter him.

think he

W] Mellon Lectures [in the Fine Arts] that became Art and

giving the [A.

think

around, but

is

the subject she had an

exceptional person. Gombrich at that time

and she

That wasn't what she

didn't publish.

knew nothing about

in,

me

So he arrived back and found me

there.

It

was

in.

SMITH: But Gombrich becomes

director, at least chronologically speaking, at the

same time you get the

which

fellowship,

is

perhaps the year after your doing the

photography work.

BAXANDALL:

can't

remember whether

it

49

was

that year or a year later.

I'm not

dead sure about the chronology, but

SMITH: Could you

talk a

paradigms were

at the

BAXANDALL:

That

little bit

Warburg

it's

something

like that.

about your impression of what the reigning

in '58, '59, '60?

is difficult.

I'd

say

first

dominant paradigm was the

that the

shape of the library and the balance of the library and the

Certainly that

SMITH: Was

it

That

in.

is

is

it

that

still

[Aby] Warburg's shape?

Warburg and

modeled to

suit

[Fritz] Saxl too.

Saxl,

gather, had a lot to

that

would say would be the

all-over pattern

Otherwise, what played a very big role was Gombrich's Art

dead sure of its date of publication, but

it,

it

came out just about

one existed

and Illusion.

I'm not

then.

1960.

BAXANDALL:
Harvard, so

Yes,

that's

it

came out just about

not the Mellon Lectures.

write the

book from

influence

on me.

before.

do with

and accommodate Warburg's way of thinking about things.

one paradigm, and

SMITH:

was arranged.

was overwhelmingly powerful.

BAXANDALL:
but

way

the lectures. Art

then.

think

think in that year he

it

did a chapter a week.

and Illusion had

a huge and very lasting

which

at the Institute studied that

Not with Gombrich, you know,

be a second paradigm.

50

in

took him quite a long time to

learnt about things like projection,

The younger people

was away

I'd

book.

just

never thought about

We had

meetings and

on our own. That would

A third paradigm would be less crisp,

and I'm not even sure "paradigm"

word. Quite apart from the arrangement of the

library, I

came

in

touch for the

time with a completely different tradition and sense of scholarship

universe.

I'd

never heard of [Ernst] Cassirer,

Even when

Curtius, and [Erich] Auerbach.

And

these figures.

it

this, in

a universe, which

SMITH: How was

BAXANDALL:
Warburg
or by

a less formal way,

it,

It's

Munich

was maybe not

hadn't encountered

a paradigm, but

Was

was

it

let's call

word of mouth?

particularly manifested in the

simply that one encountered, either on the shelves

Individuum und Kosmos, and read

was used

There was quite a


in the

Warburg

Institute.

Warburg

to,

and

it

it.

didn't read

was a very

all

different

to.

In

very important player

lot

of respect for Panofsky

Institute

Institute with

didn't necessarily want.

Warburg

a quite different

there any kind of residual influence from Panofsky at this time?

tenderness

identify the

in

got a taste of what these people were up

BAXANDALL:
slight

was

don't think the Cassirer influence

of thing from anything

SMITH: Was

first

never heard of [Ernst Robert]

the Cassirer influence manifested?

somebody mentioning
I

the

found very exciting.

Institute at that time.

the book, but

sort

I'd

is

all,

Warburg

was

America, which they

in

had never been on the staff of the

Hamburg, you know, he was


in the

think there

about Panofsky, because people tended to

what Panofsky was doing

Panofsky, after

at the university,

Institute, so I think there

51

and he was a

was maybe

a certain

tenderness there.

never met Panofsky, but a

spoke of him. As

mentioned

history

book

really liked.

SMITH: There were


Panofsky students,

BAXANDALL:
he went to

New

last time,

of people there did

lot

Meaning in

the Visual Arts

know
was

number of people, such

who were

still

as

[Hugo] Buchthal,

the Warburg.

at

who was

there for a couple of years yet before

York. There was L. D. Ettlinger,

in the pupil sense, to

Institute at that time,

German and

Panofsky.

who was more

or less just back

It

was an odd personnel

was

think

at the

Austrian and English. Buchthal and Ettlinger were both German, and of

But there were also people

Charles Mitchell, and Frances Yates, and Perkin [D. P.] Walker came a

it

well.

because the staff was transitional between being

course Gombrich and Otto Kurz were Austrian.

So

first art

who had been

from Princeton where he had spent a year with Panofsky and knew him

Warburg

the

That was years before.

There was Buchthal,

he was the closest,

him, and

a slightly transitional

SMITH: Gombrich

is

like

little bit later.

moment.

often ascribed as the person

who

initiated

and successfully

completed the Anglicization of the Warburg. Would that correspond with your
recollection?

BAXANDALL:
went

Not

initiated ... I

mean, that was programmatic

in Saxl's time.

to great pains to bring in English people: Frances Yates, and

who was

there for

some

years.

Who

else? Charles Mitchell

52

think

Saxl

Anthony Blunt,

came

in at the

end

of the war. No, that was programmatically


felt

it

was very important

that sense,

for the

Warburg

and he went to great pains to

by Donald James Gordon on what


Institute in the 1930s.

SMITH: But you


and beginning to
role at

London

Institute

did see

think

initiated,

who

about

find out

There's a marvelous paper

it.

like for English

people to go to the Warburg

predates Gombrich.

Gombrich more aggressively accelerating the integration

Warburg

into

major British publications and a more active

I'd

put

it

little bit

differently.

think

would say

that

in

He

England, publicly.

Then he brought

in [A.

pupil of Popper's, and Perkin Walker.

brought

was

in

W. W.

Barclay, an

a historian of science and a pupil of

I] Sabra,

who was

an Egyptian, and again a

Gombrich became and

still is

a very big figure

England, and he represented the Warburg Institute very effectively indeed

this public sense.

what

and carried through very much, was representing the Warburg

stayed a couple of years; he

[Karl] Popper's.

in

been told that Saxl

I've

to assimilate itself and naturalize itself in

in that respect, that

insert the

more widely

American,

was

because

University College?

BAXANDALL:
Gombrich

So

it

initiated,

But

it

doesn't

think in

seem to me quite a case of Anglicizing, because

had been going on a long time, and by

this

time

it

had

its

own

trajectory, its

that

own

energy.

SMITH: One of the

things that the

person, in this interview series,

is

German emigres have

the degree to which they

53

talked about, actually to a

felt

separate from British

life,

both socially and

intellectually.

think probably to a certain degree

self-voluntary isolation, and I'm not quite sure to

they

tell

as

opposed to an

actuality, but I'm

can talk about the Germans

BAXANDALL:
incidentally,

Yes,

at the

think that

what degree

true.

the

a narrative that

we

apart?

would say there are exceptions, and,

Gertrud Bing would be an exception here. She, for various reasons, had

Her knowledge of English

a very deep sense of English culture.

and she came from one of those Hamburg

families,

don't think that's quite so. In

some other

cases

In terms of personal interaction,

was

literature

was

terrific,

who, as a matter of course almost,

sent their children, before the 1914 war, to England for the

SMITH:

was

wondering about the degree to which

Warburg being
is

that's

it

would say

summer. So

it

was

in

her case

so, yes.

there any distinction

between the

Britons and the Germans?

BAXANDALL:

I'm not really competent to talk about interactions between, say,

Frances Yates and the Germans and Austrians.

side, partly

an awareness that

education they had.

I felt

sort

extent one has to distinguish a

was

certainly

found

communicate with Buchthal or Otto Kurz. Partly

difficult to

sense

that the

not altogether

didn't

little bit

alien.

But they

it

sometimes a

in

many ways.

bit

was shyness on my

have the sort of good, classical

of undereducated

Germans found

it

it

Gymnasium

think to

some

between the Austrian and the German, and

easier in

clearly did

England than the Austrians did to

have problems.

54

Maybe

my

feel

I'm not the person

to ask

this,

because

placed to see their

was aware of them coming forward

difficulties,

SMITH: You mentioned


related

Kurz was phenomenal.

a shy man, but he really

else

in the blitz,

that the secret

of the Warburg was, "Ask Kurz!" and

in

would have a month's worth of leads.

BAXANDALL:

anybody

existed.

Kurz, and of course there's the oft-repeated anecdote, even

by Gombrich himself,

ten minutes you

which I'm sure

to me, so I'm not very well

had

his

never got to

know him

was phenomenal. He was a superb

knowledge of the

[Hans] Meier,

who I was

was superb

told

librarian.

There had been a great

library.

too, but

He was

really well.

don't

don't think

librarian killed

know

that first-

hand. But there's no question, Kurz was astonishing.

SMITH: Did you


have any influence

ask him questions relating to your work? Did Kurz's knowledge

in

terms of those early

articles that

you did

that lead

up to Giotto

and the Orators?

BAXANDALL:
because

didn't

ask Kurz often, no.

was keeping up with what

differently,

the library.

don't

library,

Kurz, like

many

Mainly,

also,

I'll

suppose,

put

it

other people,

rather

was

in

construction of a section, and his putting the right

off-print in there as well as the right book.

One

got Kurz and Meier that way,

rather than going and getting bibliographies from

SMITH: So

know why.

had to read anyway. But

once one got a sense of the

One was aware of his

the "friendly neighbors" metaphor?

55

them

directly.

think,

BAXANDALL:

Yes, yes.

books. What's important

is

there, what's next to what,

offprints

of important

became incorporated
advice,

Kurz would

mean

the

that aren't there as well as the

fact that in that library there are a lot

But

the shelves in that sense.

certainly

books

that are

of bound

which otherwise one wouldn't encounter. The

articles

in

books

and the

a shelf of well-chosen

can't overstate the facility:

always knew that

if I

librarians

needed

know.

SMITH: Of course one wonders

then about the unspoken ideological aspects of that

kind of highly subjective selection, as opposed to the perhaps

more lame but

at least

rather arbitrary British Library or Library of Congress type classifications.

BAXANDALL:
Warburg's

Yes, well

library

is

I'd

two

things about that:

drenched with ideology, but

within a square mile there are

Warburg one

say

many

One

uses, for example, the

if

one

is

using a whole team of libraries,

Wellcome

although, yes, the

one knew

it

Warburg

library

was, and one went to

is

it

really,

very

much an

56

working
the

that

in the

Warburg and

the

Library, the history of science,

room

in

Senate House.

that.

So

ideological library in that sense,

it

One knew

was

a special

complemented other

libraries.

positively for that.

want to spend some time on your

certainly, the

and getting the advantage from

selection of books, and to an extraordinary extent

SMITH:

is

Not even simply

a couple of hundred yards along the road, or the paleography

One

is,

Bloomsbury, which means

in

other libraries, and

doesn't simply use the Warburg.

British Library.

it's

one

relationship with

it

Gombrich, but before

get into that,

if

Institute, a lot

one looks

at

much of the

existing literature about the

of it tends actually to focus on the

earlier days,

Warburg

and that implies

continuing legacies; for instance, the assumption of a pervasive

power of antiquity,

the supernatural ability of Greco-Roman culture to penetrate and overpower whatever

it

touches.

and

Was

literary

this attention to the

and mythic traditions

continuing legacies of Greek and

still

strongly present in the

Roman

Warburg ethos

visual

at the

time you were there?

BAXANDALL:

think in

a complicated situation,

some ways
In the

really.

eastern Mediterranean culture

first

less

place,

strong then than

After

it's

Bibliothek Warburg.

was

was

in

now.

is

not as strong now, and wasn't even in

make themselves comprehensible

all, it

it is

Warburg and Saxl were

think the emphasis on the classical tradition

a product of a need to

in the 1930s.

was

more than just Greek and Roman. This

which has not disappeared, but


the second place,

it

Hamburg

told that

it

was

in

was

It's

quite

interested in

something

my time.

In

to a certain extent

England when they came

called the Kulturwissenschaftliche

felt that

culture had the

wrong

ring in

England and would be misunderstood and sound German, so the function of the
Institute

was phrased

in

terms of the continuity of the classical tradition, which would

be comprehensible to the English.

Two

things

think ought to be kept in mind.

adherents of the Warburg

in the

1930s, long before

57

One

my

is

that the early English

time, people like Frances

Yates and D.

Gordon

J.

weren't really classicists.

They were

interested in the

Renaissance, which obviously involves the ancient world, but

German

it's

I'd

make, and

very important to

who was

brought

there

my

director.

were

think this interlocks with the point I've just made,

my mind

The

that

So

was

intention certainly

it

was

after

Warburg was

this current

who

to develop this side of the Institute, and

My impression is that in my time,


Greece and ancient Rome, has become a

So

institution like that.

would have happened


been a very

insofar as there

it's

this

of Frankfort had

Ucko, an
last

the classical tradition, the sense of ancient

more prominent

bit

is

in the activities

and

a program or can be a program for an

quite a complicated pattern,

think.

don't

know what

got there, but

was unfinished business and,

a big problem for the Institute.

58

but certainly the Institute would have

This had happened years before

sense that there

left

called Peter

of

too.

if Frankfort hadn't died,

different place.

time there was

man

my time. One

suppose would have been Frankfort's

was very important

program of the Warburg,

who

he died that Gertrud Bing

pupils and friends of Frankfort's around the Institute in

anthropologist and archaeologist,

that

is

Saxl died, at the end of the war, the person

died within the year, and

closest friends around the

pupil.

when

be the director was Henri Frankfort, an anthropologist

in to

worked on Egypt. He
became

wasn't quite that

which they concerned themselves with. The

philological tradition of classics

second point

it

in a sense,

still

in

my

the death

SMITH: Regarding
annotations

in the

the library,

it

has been repeated endlessly that Warburg's

books were very important

that important to you, to be able to pick

to the experience

of the Warburg.

Was

up a book and see what Warburg himself had

scribbled in the margins?

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

it

was

fascinating.

How far one

looked for these I'm not sure,

but certainly one found them. Partly because of Gertrud Bing,

about Warburg and Saxl,

I felt I

who

had quite a sense of Warburg, and

me

told

a lot

suppose these

annotations were only part of this sense.

SMITH: But you

could read them

in the

context of an oral tradition that

permeating the Warburg

Institute.

BAXANDALL:

had read Warburg. One of my

when

collection

Well,

job

sat

and

Italian edition

down and began

it

was

first

got there was to either get or put away,

photographs for the

when

a very

jobs in the photo

can't

of the Warburg essays, and

reading Warburg, because this

good

training job.

So

was

remember which,

this

was

was meant

the occasion

to be a training

worked through Warburg very

on and got a strong sense of him. Bing was very good about having one out
evening and talking not only about one's
history of the Institute.

say one

felt

She used to

talk

own

One

deep into the night about

didn't study

59

early

in

the

preoccupations but about the past, the

very close to Warburg. These actual marks

bonus, but not the center of it.

the

them,

in the

really.

this.

So

book were

would

a sort of

SMITH:

had asked a

little

earlier

about Cassirer and his legacy. Partly

because Gombrich tends to be associated with Popper, who,


in

an area of philosophy that

anti-Cassirer.

Not

that

was asking

I'm not mistaken,

was

German-speaking world was very much

in the

was wondering how

against each other.

if

the Popperian and the Cassirerian balanced

anybody

is

seeing themselves as agents of a particular

philosophy, but

BAXANDALL:

took the Cassirer more or

was an important value


Institute at that time.

reading a

But

bit

I'm

He was

out of the

talking about the

air.

don't think Cassirer

younger people

who were

own mind

about one's relationship to him.

between Popper's way of thinking and Cassirer's way of

think the Austrian and

German

traditions play a role here again.

certainly

became acutely conscious of differences between the Viennese

tradition

SMITH:
did

was coming

at the

simply one of these names one had to find out about by

and one had to make up one's

in the relationship

thinking,

to us

less

into contact with,

intellectual

and the German; they seemed very

different.

After you did the photo job, what kind of assignments were you given?

you determine

BAXANDALL:

Or

that yourself?

became what

a day a week, which for

is

called a junior fellow,

me was on

Saturday mornings,

department.

60

and

in the

did chores

photography

think half

[Tape

Side

III,

Two]

BAXANDALL:

Apart from that one was doing one's

registered to

do a Ph.D., which

SMITH: At

University College,

BAXANDALL:
I

was doing

bit.

own
I

No,

for those

at the

two

own work, and

London?

Warburg

Institute

University of London.

But I'm bound to say

years.

I felt

that

schools and that sort of thing.

SMITH:

Like

did a

quite liked teaching.

little bit

No,

at the

it's

of the

library.

my

Basically,

in art

Slade School of Fine Art, across the road, and later

friend

In this early phase, and again

degree that

what

hopped around quite a

of teaching here and there

Camberwell School of Art, where a

SMITH:

that's

Royal Academy?

at the

BAXANDALL:

So

a need to educate myself before doing

piece, so to speak, and partly because of the excitement

writing, and

was

never finished.

read very widely, partly because

was reading and

possible,

at

of mine was running things.

would

like to

keep things

distinct to the

what kind of interaction did you and the other younger

scholars have with Gombrich?

BAXANDALL:
coming forward
hospitable.

I'd

say

to us, and

Gombrich

SMITH: Did

we were

very close. Gombrich was certainly very good at

we went

certainly

to his house a

lot.

Use Gombrich was immensely

went out of his way to be

he help you select your topics?

61

accessible.

BAXANDALL:
him, he

let

me

Yes, he certainly did. What's more, and for this I'm very grateful to

my work on

start

can do more easily maybe

is

later

narrowed down to a

SMITH:

England than

You

America.

begin with a

field

which

My field was restraint in the Renaissance.

subject.

me

do

to

Restraint in the Renaissance.

this.

know I would

and focus

It

was marvelous of Gombrich

never take a student on to do restraint

Renaissance, but he did, and he helped

me

gradually constrain

this,

narrow

to

in the

it

down,

it.

SMITH: You mentioned


think

in

Restraint?

BAXANDALL:
allow

in

Which you

a Ph.D. with an absurdly inflated project.

you mentioned

it

that

word

as a question

and

last time,

of personal

did actually

want to pursue

interest in that subject;

family context. But

when

to be using

think of [Norbert] Elias, and I'm wondering if that

it,

then

think of restraint in the larger context in

it

was

it.

in the

which you seem


is in

fact

what

you were heading towards?

BAXANDALL:

hadn't heard of Elias

when

became

interested in restraint, but

Gombrich very quickly put me onto him. His work was only
it

was

about

and

helpful for

it

me

at that stage.

why

should

I?

It

in identifying

No,

was

Elias

what

was

read early.

partly because

in

German

really thinking about.

didn't find

have

slight

it

entirely

in

those days;

was very vague

what

was

after,

problems, in shorthand, with

the notion of collective Freudian mechanisms. Also, the focus on things like table

62

manners wasn't quite what

manners element
and to

was

after.

found the relationship between the table

and the big collective mechanisms a

in Elias

should mention another paper which was very important to

It

must have been one of the

first

things

paper, "Metaphors of Value in Art," which

things,

So

is

read, and that

me

very early on

Gombrich's

is

own

about the moral sense of not doing

of not having gold and that sort of thing. That played a big role early on too.

that's

getting

bit difficult to grasp,

take.

in this.

what

was

doing, and, really, for those

down and doing

SMITH: You

a job.

read widely and wrote for

never got to the point of

my own

purposes a

bit.

weren't expected to publish at this time?

BAXANDALL:

No,

certainly didn't feel any pressure to publish.

SMITH: Art and Illusion was


other young

two years

members of the

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

we

published in 1960, and you mentioned that you and the

Institute

were studying

it.

did.

SMITH: Did Gombrich do any

seminars, or

was

there a

program

in the

psychology

of aesthetics?

BAXANDALL:
seminars.

was

can't

Gombrich ran

papers. These

that

remember any

full

program. There were certainly individual

the director's seminar on

work

were Gombrichian seminars, because

the main vehicle.

63

in progress, at

that

which

we gave

was what we were doing

SMITH: Do you know what you

BAXANDALL:
people

did.

management

don't.

It

may come back

It

to me.

can remember what some other

must have done two or three presentations.


in ancient rhetoric.

express this or that sort of thing

that.

presented on at that time?

may come back

to me,

You know, how you


in

making a speech.

what

else

think one

was on toga

manipulated your toga to


think

probably did one on

did.

SMITH: When

impressed by

the diagrams, and your attention to psychological studies of eye

all

movement and

looked

at

your contribution to the Gombrich

festschrift,

was

perception.

BAXANDALL:

me

and

suppose that interest

psychology of vision derives from Gombrich. As

get older,

Yes, that interests

lot,

find

in the

stronger and

it

stronger.

SMITH: Was Gombrich


art

the primary source of information about the psychology of

or the psychology of vision?

BAXANDALL:

Yes, for me, he was

Gombrich and

mention that several of the the younger people


students at the Slade School of Art

there, before he

closely with

him

became
at the

time

in the Institute

when he was

director of the

Warburg

when he was

his pupils.

the Durning

Institute,

writing Art

64

should

had been Gombrich's

Lawrence Professor

and they had worked very

and Illusion.

have these people around, partly because they were hugely

Perhaps

was lucky

intelligent,

to

and partly

because they knew more about Gombrich than


a

huge amount from Michael Podro, and

understand what Gombrich was up

SMITH: There seems

did,

and

learnt

from them.

think this kind of mediation helped

learnt

me

to

to.

to be a very delicate balancing of Gestalt psychology,

perceptual and cognitive psychology, and then psychoanalysis at the same time,

without letting any of them become programmatic,

you were going

I'm just curious

to do.

how

in the

sense of determining what

that negotiation

was handled

in a daily

sense by you personally and as part of this community.

BAXANDALL:
very enjoyable.

many

Well,

suppose the truth

One may have been

different universes.

suppose

it

does sound a

Freud, but Gombrich

either,

though

is

bit

one was splashing about, and

incompatible universes, but

was

went through a Jungian phase as well as Freudian.


of a mess, but

this

was

it.

Gombrich

not in any simple sense Freudian, and

learnt a lot

it

a bit of a mess, through trying to take on too

from reading a

talking with people about him, clearly.

SMITH:

is,

isn't

bit

certainly

don't think

knew
I

his

was

of Freud, reading about him, and

think probably one

was dabbling

in

that fairly usual?

Well, to a certain degree, but

if I

think of the post-'68 generation, there's a

countermodel where one finds the "master key," whether

it's

[Claude] Levi-Strauss,

[Louis] Althusser, [Jacques] Lacan, or [Michel] Foucault.

BAXANDALL:

No,

don't think

it

was

like that then.

65

One was aware

that certain

things wouldn't

that

work with

other things.

one had to read than there

is

now,

important books relevant to doing

historical books, but

smaller then than

interesting

book

man

called

now;

this, I

that there

the sense that the

in

art history

imagine,

as Gombrich's Art

called

was

smaller.

art history,

was

less in

those days

number of clearly
I

don't

mean just

which covers a

lot,

and Illusion

appeared, a really rather

lived in

London, also Viennese, wrote

Later

learnt that there

it

an earlier book by him which

is

is

Illusion and The

Hidden Order of Art, so one made

hand, the sorts of urgency Ehrenzweig had,

It's

if I

wasn't going to do

think this has been for

it

me

in his

is

very important, and

objectionable elements in

what

wanted to do

in

it,

if

I felt,

one's election.

the other

were things one should keep

way

in

a sense

in

it's

on me.

even so of F. R. Leavis: a

they are doing the job, but the job they are

only one could find a

this is

On

and

way.

so of Hans Sedlmayr, for example, and

doing

even

the pattern of an awful lot of the influences

sense that one can't quite accept the

an

was The Hidden Order of Art. Now, one

read that book and realized that one couldn't produce a synthesis from Art

was

obvious. Let's take a concrete example.

is

Anton Ehrenzweig, who

interesting, but never mind, then

mind, even

art-

The Hidden Order of Art, which was programmatically Freudian

interesting book.

more

may be

books relevant to doing

it is

About the same time

It

what one would

way of doing

like to do.

this

without the

I've often

thought of

these terms, without this or that failing, or omission, or logical

66

problem, or whatever

don't

remember

SMITH: But

it

may

it

feeling

be.

So,

under a great

you know, thinking about


strain

about

this;

this

also suggests that the eclectic approach

all

these universes,

very likely was naivete.

was valued

at that time,

rather than a highly theorized approach.

BAXANDALL:
been

at

Well,

think one

was

other times. There's no particular merit in

one could keep an eye on what was


like

less sectarian

read a

lot

it

lot.

is

simply because one

on around one, and

in their field

simply shopped around, and one read an awful

anxiety,

this;

interesting going

everybody, friends told one about things

maybe than some people have

also because

which were good. One

For those two years, without

of different sorts of things.

SMITH: You mentioned Michael

Podro, and

was wondering who

else

was

your personal community of friends and scholars, the people that you could

on an equal

level,

BAXANDALL:

and perhaps without a

talking.

would

lot

part of

talk with

of deference-inducing circumspection?

Michael Podro and Peter Ucko both were close friends, with

one spent an awful

felt

lot

find

of time,

it

very

certainly learnt an incredible

in a

way one

has never done since

difficult to identify

what

learnt

simply

sitting

from those two, but

amount from them. Peter Ucko had access

anthropological and archaeological universe, and Michael Podro

with Gombrich on German nineteenth-century aesthetics.

whom

was

to this

writing a thesis

You know,

that

was how

was. At the Warburg Institute there were often people coming through for short

67

and

it

periods, for a year, say.

Finnish art historian

Another man

who worked on

Kandinsky. So one got a


to year

can't

have been a

later

late

well.

than

liked very

like this.

BAXANDALL:

was

in the

SMITH:

come

to

mind

part of the function of one's friends.

think

would

But do you

sense of antagonists?

mean

someone whose

sense of

in the

yours and yet you could engage

friendly

that

this.

sparring partners?

mean

Sixten Ringbom, a

The exact chronologies from year

The other names

SMITH: Did you have any


Well, that

much was

medieval devotional imagery and also on

from people

lot

remember very

little bit

who

in a

position

was

clearly

opposed to

continuing debate or banter, which might be both

and antagonistic, or challenging.

BAXANDALL:
Institute,

with

In a sense that role

whom

representing what one

Institute

had some

was not

was

institutionally

relations.

doing,

If one

suppose

it

performed by the Courtauld

was thinking of the people


would have been the Courtauld

of that day. The Courtauld has changed a great deal since then, but

in

those

days, with Blunt and the tradition of Johannes Wilde, the Courtauld Institute, in a

perfectly friendly,

a way,

when one

good way, represented something which one


finally

began writing, one began writing to

didn't

irritate

Institute.

SMITH: How

did your job at the Victoria and Albert

68

come about?

want to

do.

the Courtauld

In

BAXANDALL:

In the second year

wanted somebody to do the

of my junior fellowship, John Pope-Hennessy

translations

from the

Italian in his big,

Phaidon book on High Renaissance and Baroque sculpture, and

know him

way, and when

money.

for

think later he wasn't sure he wanted

it.

got to

same time

was

assistant,

and

Initially I

think

I felt I'd

like to teach,

Museum."

Victoria and Albert

and got

sculpture, but

try

At the

museum and

a teaching job.

show you my dependence on Gertrud

but just to

went to her for advice. She

I'm sure, in hindsight, she

an assistant keeper

what were your

BAXANDALL:
sculpture, spent

The

first

staff, called

sculpture,

you know;

which

it

most of the year

[Ronald

is

W]

in

was

"Go

said,

right.

So

to the

applied for

the department of architecture and

duties there, and did

year

the problem of what to give

it

there, but at that stage he did.

it.

SMITH: You were

whether

job came up he suggested

curiously straight choice between a

Bing and her importance to me,

it

me

this

did that for the

offered a job at the Slade School of Art, lecturing in art as Ettlinger's

was a

it

in that

three-volume

me

was
in

there,

Pope-Hennessy,

America,

to do.

you have a focus within

at

Williams

who was

think

it

that?

keeper of

was, so there was

Pope-Hennessy and another member of the

Lightbown, had just finished the big catalog of Italian

the big collection.

So

I,

with

wasn't quite clear what would be

my

good

Italian bias,

for

me

to do.

was John Pope-Hennessy or Terence Hodgkinson,

69

was a
I

bit

don't

de

trop,

know

the deputy keeper of the

department

go

still

a great friend of mine

German

at cataloging the

near as big as the

In the

everybody

in

collection during

it

would be

nice if I had a

which was a much smaller collection, nowhere

those days the pattern was that you had chores to do like

You had

else.

that

not even within a factor often.

Italian,

museum

sculpture,

who decided

my first

and Albert Museum. The

letters to reply to

year.

rest

In fact,

and labels to

I still

see

of the time, one

is

draft.

many of my

relabeled the Italian

labels in the Victoria

meant to be making oneself what

they called an authority, because that was one's public function, to provide scholarly

authority,

and

was

write a really a

left

quite free, in the

most marvelous way, to equip myself to

good catalog of the German

The Victoria and Albert Museum

traveled a great deal.

library in Britain;

it's

SMITH:

lot.

So

sent

one abroad, so

that's

how I came

library is the national art

a fine library, and one had free access to the stacks.

brought to one's desk the object one was working on.

that quite a

They

sculpture.

It

was

to be there and that's

superb, and

what

was

Obviously, then, from this develops your ongoing interest in

One
I

enjoyed

told to do.

German

sculpture.

BAXANDALL:

Yes.

SMITH: Have you had any

further relationships with

A, such as consulting, putting together shows, or

BAXANDALL:

Not

in that

formal way, no.

70

museums

sitting

had a

since

you

left

the

V&

on the board of trustees?

lot to

do with German museum

officials for years after that; they'd

friends.

the question of how one exhibits objects interest you?

SMITH: Does

BAXANDALL:
museum

become

am

interested in the business of exhibiting,

experience. Yes, that does interest

SMITH: But from

me

and the problem of the

lot.

a theoretical or academic perspective rather than practical

application?

BAXANDALL:

Not

should mention that

was

museum

science

in a

official,

museum

Albert

Museum.

of the

staff who

SMITH: Oh,

entirely.

in

sense

and

my

take a strong interest in

am

a third-generation

grandfather

Indeed,

when

I first

museum

official.

are done.

My father

was keeper of scientific instruments

went to the

used to have lunch with

my

at the

V&A there was an elderly member

grandfather.

really?

one reason why

oppressive, this sort of hereditary

SMITH:

how museums

South Kensington, just across the road from the Victoria and

BAXANDALL: And this is


little bit

assume

that during this period

didn't stay at the

museum

museum;

aspect of my

found

it

life.

you are keeping up close personal

connections with the Warburg?

BAXANDALL:
for me.

articles.

Yes. In a curious way, that was a very productive Warburgian time

had a key, and

These were the

used to spend the weekends

articles, really,

at the

Warburg, writing

which led to the book Giotto and the

71

So

Orators.

that

much

sculpture until

SMITH:

think

talks about the

with, and

it

was

a productive time.

later,

was

it

though

in '57 that

In fact,

didn't write

had been cataloging

Gombrich gave

me wondering

it.

well-known lecture

mutual love of rhetoric and painting

got

about the German

in the

in

which he

period that you are dealing

about the degree to which Gombrich steered you

in

this direction.

BAXANDALL:
the end of the

Oh, he was very important. This

museum

patch.

was brought back

is

on rhetoric for the new course

were going

to give.

So Gombrich

have found

it

in that

like to

don't

art,

Institute to prepare

Renaissance which they

very much.

doubt

if I'd

follow up himself.

know how

far

fiddly detail of rhetoric, but he

Gombrich would have wanted

knew

quite a

lot,

to get into the

and certainly he directed

me

that.

SMITH: As you began


and

me

at

sense you were following up on the direction that the elder

would

BAXANDALL:

towards

Warburg

in the

certainly directed

out of phase, but

for myself.

scholar perhaps

more

little bit

to the

a course specifically

SMITH: So

how

did

of scholarship on

writing and publishing on this relationship between rhetoric

you define

for yourself the state of Renaissance studies

this particular question

history in this case

was even more

Not simply

important.

72

art history;

maybe

and the

state

intellectual

BAXANDALL:

Yes. That

aspect of it. There

the 1930s.

was Anthony

didn't set out to

me from

interested

find difficult to say.

Let us

Blunt's Artistic Theory in Italy,

work on humanist

art criticism.

the point of view of restraint, and

the job had to be done.

from the

start

It

which was written

was

found when

almost got trapped into doing that;

it

is

art history

which

a field

went

really a

in

into

it

that

fragment of

restraint.

The people

more

read on the Renaissance were very diverse, discrete people, and,

particularly, the people

admired most.

tended to admire rather

old-fashioned, straight philological engagement with these texts. For example, the

Italian scholar,

Remigio Sabbadini,

still

seems to

me

a marvelous scholar, both

because of the jobs he did on texts and because of the


talked about the bigger problems.

this time,

going to

Italian libraries,

fairly

suppose partly because

was very aware of an

informal

way

in

traveled a lot in Italy at

Italian tradition here:

Sabbadini, [Giuseppe] Bilanovich in Milan, [Eugenio] Garin in Florence and

These were one group.

New York and

Now another group

his students.

Kristeller

which he

Rome.

of course was [Paul Oskar] Kristeller

was very important

to

me

in

not only for his

writings on Renaissance humanism, but because of his Iter Italicum, a sort of brief

catalog of Italian Renaissance manuscripts. This

used

it

lot.

It

was published

partly

was immensely important

by the Warburg

Institute, so

to

me

knew about

and

it.

I'm not getting very far in defining a sense of studies in the field or a sense of

73

the state of studies in the

field.

did have a clear sense of that.

think

One

general essay,

it

might be an

For anybody interested


and

would be probably inaccurate

It

might be an edition of a

art historian.

is

often.

that

and one was interested

subjective,

Unlike now,

in things

moment. Jacob Burckhardt was important

field,

so to speak. I'm sorry, this

didn't feel

myself in a

field

isn't

a very

it

Italian

in here.

Renaissance

But

would

art

find

it

because one

which would be useful to oneself

terms of what was going on

to me.

It

good answer

was

at

a sort of diachronic

to your question, but

with clearly defined schools and options where

had

clearly defined preferences.

SMITH:

more

There's

perhaps, although

written about Italian art than one person could read, and

don't

humanists. I'm sure there

BAXANDALL:

Warburg

at the

and

was very easy

SMITH:

was

just as

Institute.

for

me

much

has been written about the Italian

already a large literature on their interconnections.

There was a large

being

it

know,

might be

field at that time, partly

didn't see the scholarly field in

between

absolutely essential.

impossible to write an account of the state of the

was very

text,

suppose Panofsky comes

in establishing relationships

Renaissance culture, Panofsky

Italian

suggested

if I

read various things, they were very mixed, the

things which one thought were good.

some

it

literature,

but of course

was

rather privileged in

These things were on the "new acquisitions"

shelf,

to keep up.

wonder, as you were developing your project, publishing and talking

74

about

it,

spark

in

both informally and perhaps


people

like

what kinds of interests did

in presentations,

Gombrich or Bing

Bing dies

well,

doesn't play as big a role, but what about your peers, like

gave you enough feedback


years of your

well

life

pursuing

that

you could say

that

this

in '64,

it

so perhaps she

Podro? What was

was worth spending

it

that

the next ten

you would not simply be repeating what was already

known?

BAXANDALL:
several things

was going

Well, I've always been in the position, unfortunately, of having

on the go

to be

at a time,

my Ph.D.

thesis, this

decided not to put the book

this period,

stuff,

you know,

in for a

my work

don't think

got overly involved

material.

saw

in detail, as

think

things too.

this.

was doing

Gombrich saw me

was

doing. But

all

a bit of German

as doing a solid, useful job.

he thought as a project

to get various things right.

linguistics.

much French

My friends,

was very

it

was

decent.

book one wanted

people

wasn't aware of addressing a public.

On

to do;

the other hand,

75

interested in certain

structuralist linguistics as

like

think to an extraordinary extent one

self-indulgent and writing the

this really

one tends to do when one goes into any body of

kinds of linguistics at that time. Not so

American anthropological

one aspect of it. And

Ph.D. So that was one thing

set his pulses racing, but

was concerned

able to respond to

this as

book, Giotto and the Orators. In the end

was doing other

and so on. Feedback ...

so

Ucko and Podro, were


was being

really think

it

was

that.

Gombrich and the Warburg

Institute

were

SMITH:
the

work

new way,

towards

certainly entirely benign

I'm assuming that at no point

that other people

have done;

was
it

it.

ever raised that you were just repeating

it

was

a question of putting together things in a

finding connections that had not been perceived before.

BAXANDALL:

Well,

it

happened

partly

my

by accident, partly by

finding things.

found a manuscript of Bartolomeo Fazio's Lives of Famous Men, which


subsection of a chapter

weekends while
and

larger,

and

was

in there,

at the

and

found other things, which

one

wrote up

at

museum. Gradually, the body of material grew

became very

interested in certain general problems

as whether discoursing on art in Latin led to a certain

including a restrained

is

way of thinking about

it,

it

larger

presented, such

way of thinking about

and of valuation. If you,

art,

like

Leon

Battista Alberti, talk about art with an awful lot of words beginning with con-, you're

not going to

start seeing art rather differently.

You know,

that

was

the problem.

a straight linguistic determinism, but a relationship between the language

regularly uses about something and the

way one

sees

it.

So

Again, the book wasn't progressed-to programmatically and

that's

how

it

Not

one
happened.

tidily.

[Tape IV, Side One]

SMITH:
don't

want

wanted to
to

talk just a

go on too much

little bit

about your approach to language theory.

further today because

think we're probably both

getting tired, but just to initiate the subject, you had mentioned last time that

76

you did

some of the language philosophers such

get interested in

and Austin. And you mentioned just

Could you

just talk a

new way of reading

BAXANDALL:
interests

me

little bit

about

So

things

suppose

it

is

the tradition

difficult.

was

But

man

at

any rate

called

in

think,

first

can't

was

any longer remember

chapter of

who wrote on

a sense,

something

SMITH:

isn't really

a theoretical matter,

believe in

much more

it's

of the

all

found Quine very

Word and Object. There

this.

These were the

think the center of the problem that interests

terms of radical linguistic determinism,

Whorf

the center of the nexus

why one

me

sort

of

why one

is

has to think

of verbal constraints and dispositioning, and how one gets the balance
in

that

the respects in which Benjamin

interesting issue that

read from the

Roger Brown,

people. Basically,

cannot think

me were

read Quine, but that's a different universe, and

of sparking a

coming out of Edward Sapir

read [Melville J] Herskovits ...

read.

useful in terms

these documents?

most, and what interested

Quine and [A. J] Ayer

anthropological linguistics.

who you found most

was wrong, which was addressing an


for me.

now the American

as

right,

a matter of historical tact.

in

terms

which

This

is

than method.

Tact: t-a-c-t?

BAXANDALL:

T-a-c-t.

It

seems to

me

that tact

is

have found that often the way things have happened


a problem I've never got to a point

where

more important than method.


is

that

when

I've

been addressing

could state a clean theoretical position on

77

it,

it's

but

do

feel that I've

educated myself enough about

involved, with a certain tact,

SMITH: As you

if

you see what

to talk about things in

it

mean. I'm not a methodical worker.

you

familiarize yourself with language theory,

time a tremendous body of literature that


texts that you're dealing with are

conventions and procedures.

we just

embodied

in

could

literature

wonder how one combines the

of rules and

rules

if that

was

BAXANDALL:

saw

as a problem, because

how

far

classical rhetoric as a historical object;

Though

art

between rhetoric and

in rhetoric.

it.

even a problem for you.

wasn't taking on board

all

was studying

the assumptions.

later

went on

to

me

a natural affinity

painting,

work

and

quite a bit

this is

on the

and lack of strain

dialectic, partly

because

These things are maybe a scholastic coding, but nevertheless a

between the rigors of the

eclectic set

classical

system and

in

the

what has always interested me

a technique of human behavior and the analysis of human behavior.

strain

of human behavior. Paintings are human behavior,

other things, so there seems to

relationship

teach

it

of rhetoric with

did find classical rhetoric very interesting as a rather generalizable technique

and rationale for discussing the

among

in fact

same

Latin rhetoric, which the

call

whole

also have at the

the scientific approach to language, and

I'm not sure

which

my own

fairly

So

real

had to

coding of

didn't feel

disorganized and

of ideas, because one was the object of study.

SMITH: Applying
than applying

it

language theory to Latin would seem to

to the

Navaho,

for example, if we

78

go back

me

to

a very different thing

Whorf.

BAXANDALL:

Yes. Well, the position to which

using a language

in

white, that doesn't

you tend

to use

to

retreated

was

that if you are

which you are forced to distinguish between shiny white and

mean you
become

see differently, but simply by having to learn

a bit

of this kind. In other words,

it's

more acute

in

a very, very

the problem which really interested

when

me

making

weak

in that

distinctions

dull

which word

and discriminations

of linguistic determinism. But

sort

book was the next

what happens

stage:

a language has a liking or tendency to a certain sort of syntax and sentence

structure,

and that

really for

me was what

the

book was about, not the vocabulary,

not the lexicon, but the syntax.

SMITH:

you were writing

believe as

when much of the


following that at

rebirth

was

a period, particularly in France,

semiotic thought

is

Were you

taking place.

a really disgraceful extent, in retrospect,

reviews described Giotto


"structuralist" meant.

Levi-Strauss lecture

It's

and the Orators


a

certainly encountered

like Peter

little bit like

in that period, in

of honesty about one's

people

in

it

all?

BAXANDALL: To

sort

of interest

this,

it.

own

as structuralist,

wasn't.

University College. This

history.

after, I did

is

I'm sure in

go off and read a

writing this book.

79

bit

certainly heard

a problem about any

was very ignorant about


it

When book

had to find out what

Wittgenstein, again. But

had certainly heard about

Ucko. Soon

this.

had

some form from

of it, but that was

after

If we think in terms

SMITH:

of the major themes

word

that he

in Foucault's

would have

BAXANDALL:

of restraint, perhaps

No.

work

at this period,

hadn't read Foucault at

graduate students.

though

way of stating one

don't think that's a

all.

think

comes out

one learns about

in '66 if I

things, that interests

learnt about [Jacques] Derrida

remember

right,

learnt about [Jiirgen]

does seem to

me

things,

because one

people

SMITH: Or

is

through

Habermas through another graduate student who had


in all sorts

of indirect ways.

very important one shouldn't claim one was untouched by these

is

a creature of the period, but

should have read

de] Saussure.

me,

through an Australian graduate

been to Munich. One gets intimations of what's going on

It

another

yet part of the general discourse?

BAXANDALL: A way that

student.

is

used.

SMITH: So The Order of Things, which


was not

that

have to admit that

had not read. At that time

I'd

all

sorts

of

not even read [Ferdinand

read Saussure soon afterwards, but

[Charles Sanders] Peirce?

BAXANDALL:
rate in a serious

Peirce

way,

came much, much

until

SMITH: You mention

later, again.

doubt

if I

read Peirce, at any

about fifteen years ago.

that

we

are

all

creatures of our time, and of course

now

historians have retrospectively looked back at the fifties and sixties and have even

developed within the

last

ten years a label, "the linguistic turn," that then gets placed

80

onto a period, which can then be synthesized with the end of modernism and the
beginning of postmodernism,

BAXANDALL:
how

often one's

something

first

encounter with something

Certainly

familiar.

that's

one wants to oversimplify

when

good

came

person, and in a

it

think

way he

had encountered

of the nature of a

probably had read a

prepared one for a

all

bit

library like the

how

Well,

crude a

lot

first there's

for studying things.

this

Now,

in earlier

of Roman Jakobson, that sort of

and semiotics.

good up-to-date

This

Warburg: a

lot

in

version.

of the

is

striking,

bit familiar.

intellectual history

was a new development, and

there's a

It's

comes round

complex.

It

81

makes

one attempts oneself must

secondary question of whether

a third caveat

part

and which turns out to

the question of why language seems to provide a

Then of course

is

of the books are old books, and you

the development of something which

behind one and one encounters again and finds a

SMITH:

familiar.

lot in structural linguistics

these things not in the

have been an important step

realize

seem

know.

don't

read something from thirty or forty years ago which

one

did

the Prague school, or the Tartu people ever talked about?

BAXANDALL:

But

it is, is

amount of

to read Saussure and a certain

because one has encountered a few of the code words

however

new seems an encounter with

deal later, Foucault,

versions or through friends, or a review,

SMITH: Was

things.

think one measure of how one's getting something,

structural linguistics, or a

whether

if

which

is

whether,

in fact,

be.

new key

in fact

everybody

was

thinking about language

BAXANDALL:

Well,

I'd

all

the time.

say there has been a return to classical rhetoric as a

codification of social behavior.

Language

don't find that particularly surprising.

was

thinking about language

from

the French.

SMITH:

It

was

the time,

resonant, relevant

at perceptual

medium, so

part of a linguistic turn and

know. There was

were happening

this period

when

with [Noam] Chomsky, and

stuff.

processes which, even

seem

don't

Part of the model that Gombrich

conventionalizations,

in

Whether one was

sides awfully interesting things

all

looks

all

the most verbally studied

is

is

putting forward in Art

if they

and Illusion

lead to aesthetic

to be, at least as they're being theorized at the time, based

nerve processes that are extralinguistic.

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: So
may

Yes

that the

way

in

which the fovea moves around

is

not determined by, and

not even overlap, linguistic considerations.

BAXANDALL:
reading a

book

Yes. That's one of the reasons

recently

why I was

verbal,

It

leads to conceptual

and that

is

was

on the question of whether the Freudian unconscious was

verbal or not. In a way, the question with the eye

verbal.

very interested. But

movement,

one of the reasons

that

it

can be

is

a bit similar.

itself

find this sort

know, one's getting even beyond the unconscious.

82

The eye

is

conceptualized, but

of thing fascinating.

not

it

is

not

You

SMITH:

think

was

it

published, and there

BAXANDALL:

1960

in

that [George] Kubler's

was another book, The Image, by [Kenneth] Bolding.

Kubler's

book

know.

SMITH: The Shape of Time was

Was that

quite influential in

It

was of interest, but

We didn't want big,

grand.

of big systematic

think

it

was

SMITH:

Yes,

of me and

was

Renaissance, and

function of the

Warburg

to play a role in

my

this

felt,

art history for a while.

this.

It

called back.

think

it

don't

I did.

specifically asking

SMITH: So you came back


I

me

called

partly to give a

to start in a year, and

had quite a

to

do

bit

to

is

really call

know.

strain, I don't

no big

structures.

back?
start a master's

more

he asked

clear

me

course

academic

to

come back

had various roles

My main teaching role was to

I'd

this

suppose that

was our Viennese

Gombrich wanted to

was framed

was going

know what one would

Institute within the university, so

course on rhetoric, which

BAXANDALL:

not only me, that the pattern

friends in those days:

planning and timetabling, that sort of thing.

Gombrich

we

you return to the Warburg. Were you

In '65

BAXANDALL:
in the

fear,

Whether

structures.

characteristic

think

systematic thinking, and

period thing. There's either distrust or

it,

American

something that was of interest to you and your group?

BAXANDALL:
was too

book The Shape of Time was

in

prepare a

do with rhetoric before, but

was very important

to me.

as a lecturer, specifically for that course?

taught different things.

83

never taught

art history.

In fact,

didn't

really teach art history until

ago.

taught

came here

some economic

history,

SMITH:

today, but

taught a course on Melanchthon and

humanism, the Reformation, and other

[University of California, Berkeley], ten years

things, but not art history.

had a couple of non-work-related questions and then


of all, were you married

first

BAXANDALL:

married while

SMITH: And you had

BAXANDALL:

German

was

at this

at the

I'd like

to end for

time?

museum,

yes.

children?

have two children and

my wife

is at

present in London;

have a

daughter and a son.

SMITH: And what does your

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: And

She

wife do?

paints.

she exhibits?

BAXANDALL:

Yes, she had a successful exhibition

SMITH: So you were making enough money

at this

London.

last fall in

time to be able to support a

family?

BAXANDALL:

Well, one never

makes enough money.

structures are rather different in England from here, and

was

a very thin

then that

England

is

first

married.

It

what

two

years, and then almost a doubling

The

difference in pay

not as big as here, so

when

was
I

tight off

had

of my

and on. Pay

at the

salary,

museum

and

it

was

between a junior lecturer and a professor

began

84

at the

Warburg,

in

wasn't disgracefully

badly

off.

SMITH: Where

in

BAXANDALL:

All the early years

was

Fulham Road. When

married

Street, off the

was handy

moved

for the

to north

London

V&A,

did

you

but then

live?

when

living in Chelsea, in a

we

lived initially in

was moving

London, to Hampstead, and

I've

mews, behind Sidney

to the

Holland Park, which

Warburg

always since lived

in

Institute

we

Hampstead and

Highgate.

SMITH:

So, near

Gombrich?

BAXANDALL:

Not

SMITH: During

this time, to

left political

that far.

do not want to give the wrong impression.

which haven't changed

that

You know,

was then and

I still

sort,

time Gramsci. Gramsci's fine for me, and

But

am

my

politics,

just sort

an old-fashioned European social

in spite

don't read a lot of political philosophy, and

It's

suppose

but with Marxian interests.

last

current political events.

much, are rather uneducated and unthinking, but also

democrat of not an orthodox Marxist

SMITH: So

interests in politics developing a

perspective?

BAXANDALL:

rather deep.

what degree were your

indifference to you?

85

mentioned

I still feel this.

don't even take a strong interest in

of an emotional

the election of [Harold] Wilson in '64

of everything,

attitude.

would have been a matter of

BAXANDALL:

No,

have never voted anything but Labour.

Wilson, but one goes with what there

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:

follow the

Yes.

it,

but

it

was

certainly

something one kept

A good review that was.

No.

SMITH: And you

didn't see the left

Labour

as being an important

development that

to spend time on?

BAXANDALL:
socialism a

care for

again you did not involve yourself in any particular issues at that time?

BAXANDALL:

you needed

much

is.

always see

an eye on and read off and on.

SMITH: But

didn't

New Left Review?

didn't

think

little bit alien.

found the ideologies and the arguments going on

They tended not

me

in

my

me

to be the arguments that interested

very much. They were framed around matters

weren't deeply important to

in British

like the role

political interests.

of the unions, which


tended,

when people were

talking about this, simply to say, "I'm an anarchosyndicalist, and this

is

rather remote

from me."

SMITH: So
British

the debates between Merrin and

working

BAXANDALL:
found British

class

It

to

the bribe given to the

you?

sounds awfully priggish, and you're sure to misunderstand

politics

political things

would not be of interest

Moore over

very provincial. They didn't seem to

which interested me,

in a valuable,

86

me

it,

but

to be addressing

productive way. The domestic

issues

were overwhelming and

distorted the problems that

seemed

me

to

the classical

problems.

SMITH:

know

about ten years

this is

later

than the period we've been talking about

today, but did you follow the famous debates between Perry Anderson and E.

Thompson?

BAXANDALL:
To me

No,

All this

much

On the

quietist,

and

other hand,

earlier English literary culture.

work on William Blake more than

sounds very

English politics.

Thompson

wasn't in the country at the time.

he was a survival from a

in reference to his

up.

it is,

in

But

Italian,

didn't take a

French, and

deep

German

lot.

liked

for the particular issues he

a way, but

followed

admired a

him

took

interest in

politics

quite closely.

SMITH: So
struck you as

there

more

BAXANDALL;

It

SMITH:

pertinent to the problems that interested you.

me

the big social issues in a

sounds priggish, but


Well,

the Continent that

Yes, particularly between Italy and France, one covered an awful

of what seemed to
doing.

was something about what was happening on

why

don't

we

that's

how

I felt,

end for today.

87

way

that English politics just

to be honest.

lot

was not

SESSION THREE:

30 APRIL, 1996

[Tape V, Side One]

SMITH:

After you

came back

part of that community,

BAXANDALL:
York

to the

Warburg,

1965, and you

what other changes occurred

In the four years that

became

a permanent

in the staff there?

was away, Hugo Buchthal had gone

University, Charles Mitchell had finally

arrived,

in

to

New

gone to Bryn Mawr, Perkin Walker had

and Sabra had come to teach the history of science. In the next few years a

couple of changes happened: David Chambers, a historian of Italy, came, replacing,


suppose, Charles Mitchell, and Charles Schmitt, a historian of science, came

when

Sabra went to Harvard. The Warburg Institute had a very small teaching staff of five,
so this

was

Frankfort,

Jennifer

quite a big

shift, really.

who had been

Montagu, the

Soon

after

came back, Enriqueta

director of the photo collection, retired and

historian

[Harris]

was replaced by

of Italian and French baroque. Those were the main

changes.

SMITH: Were

there changes developing in the overall shape of the interests and

projects being treated?

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

think there were.

was

three or four years, though

rather programmatically to

go

philosophy.

think this

was

of course was away for Gombrich's

fairly closely in

in for the history

touch.

think

initially

88

he'd intended

of science and the history of

related to his friendship with Popper.

first

How far this

worked out

don't

They then decided


the criterion for

know, but maybe

who would

nature of the teaching

read

didn't

be on the teaching

staff,

which

now

in

there

Previously, there had been no

staff.

was

lists

a syllabus, and this shaped the

and made recommendations for the

gave seminars

all this.

In

my

library, so

When

time, certainly,

Joseph B. Trapp,

Unlike what's typical

collection person

in

who

library to

is

the U.S.,

were both considered

BAXANDALL: Oh yes. And


librarian,

librarian.

shift in that

One

area

think the need to cover the

was one reason why

was

become

the second professor.

replaced Kurz as librarian?

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

any

of a

got back, Frances Yates, Walker, and Sabra were the teaching

and then Kurz moved over from the

SMITH: Who

bit

Also one arranged conferences, lecture

teaching commitments became stronger. Indeed, that

asked back.

which became

turn had an effect on the general character of the

shifted the general direction of the Institute.

staff,

quite as he had expected.

because teaching was only part of it. One was also a

book

series,

work out

to start this M.Phil, course in Renaissance studies,

syllabus that had to be covered, but

Institute,

it

a close friend.

gather that the librarian and the photo

active scholars?

not only the principal librarian and the photographic

but their staffs too. There were normally three academic staff in the photo

collection, four in the library,

and four or

five sort

librarians taught as well.

89

of nominal teachers, though the

SMITH:

That's quite a large

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

Well,

BAXANDALL:
compares

it

Not
I

for a library that size.

mean
I

staff.

for the

don't

Warburg

know,

doesn't

it

comparing

with, but

as a whole, as a research institute.

it

seem

with, say,

to

me

very large.

German

It

depends what one

research institutes,

it

seems

rather small.

SMITH: You had no

BAXANDALL:

No,

responsibility to cover the

whole of art

wasn't really an art historian there at

history,

SMITH: To what

degree were projects,

suggesting that this

was

it

is

BAXANDALL:

There were one or two

so

it

own

in a sense, collectively

developed? I'm not

on the Continent, but

a collection of individual scholars?

of Antique Art [and Architecture]


people did their

art historians.

the kind of equipe situation that one finds

more than simply

assume?

Although many of us

all.

used visual materials, to use the phrase, very few were straight

thing,

and

big,

Known

long-term projects, such as the Census

to the Renaissance, but

think most of the people

on the whole,

were loners

in their

work,

wouldn't be a characteristic of the Institute for them to have collective research

operations, apart from the big, standing, long-running schemes.

SMITH:
and

fine

Right.

tuned

But then to what degree were individual research

in daily conversation, as well as

BAXANDALL:

Not much

in staff seminars.

90

perhaps

It

was

in staff

interests tested

seminars?

informal, and obviously, with a

some people one saw more than other

staff that size,

example, that

huge
slips

role in

B. Trapp,

J.

my work

who became

it

worked informally

Of course,

all

would

when Kurz became

in this

of us were involved

and Courtauld Institutes, which was


came together

really

came

the Journal

at the

in

my thirties,

SMITH:

Also,

and

role in reading

criticizing

in,

work ought

would assume, perhaps

[in

big,

Institute.

We

or writing ourselves for

it.

remember Joe

and generally making them

better.

incorrectly, that

at least the first

Chambers must have been

two chapters of Painting

Fifteenth-Century Italy] seem to rest on a foundation that his

to have provided.

BAXANDALL: We didn't

in fact

know of each

collection of documents must have

SMITH: His book

BAXANDALL:
the

little

but he was teaching me.

an important connection for you, because

and Experience

me

of the Warburg

Warburg

Several of my early articles were for that journal, and there again

was

professor, had a

way, rather than through

in

produced

a lot on that, reading things that

Trapp playing a big

say, for

through reading and discussion, and he regularly sent

with references. So

formal seminars.

librarian

people.

Warburg

appears

Yes, but

Institute

would have been

'67,

from
or

think his

out a year before.

1970.

in

we

come

other at that stage.

didn't really

St.

maybe

know each

other's

Andrews, about two years


a bit

later.

work

after

until

he came to

went back, so

We got to know each other then,

91

it

and

certainly

became

friends.

SMITH: You mentioned


find

someone who's

BAXANDALL:

in the first session that

bright to exchange with, that

you have a need or an


you

inclination to

find that stimulating.

Well, not quite "exchange," but to prostrate myself in front of,

rather.

SMITH: Okay. Though

it

didn't

sound necessarily that the bright person had to be

productive; of course, you were talking then about your student days.

wondering who the bright men and women might be


discovered

at this

BAXANDALL:

we

Well, Michael Podro

I've

London.

He went

He was

you sought out or

had known for some time, and he certainly

mentioned

He

also.

eventually

went to

Simon Pembroke was a research fellow

rather lost touch then.

for a time.

was

time?

was one of these. Peter Ucko


and

that

came back

to King's, Cambridge, and then

Australia,

at the Institute

to the University

of

a classicist, but a classicist in the orbit of Moses Finley and Arnaldo

Momigliano.
Perhaps
there

should say that

were people coming

or another.

from that

A couple

time.

for

in addition to the

at the Institute,

two or three years with research fellowships of one

of evenings ago

He came

permanent people

to the

saw Carlo Ginzburg, who was an old

Warburg

Institute to

work

friend

as a research fellow.

There's a clever man. Another one I've mentioned [off-tape]

92

sort

is

Isaiah Shachar.

did

the

German

sculpture

memory of him. He

book [The

died.

Li mewood Sculptors of Renaissance

He was

an

who came

Israeli

on various aspects of the image of the Jew

in art.

Ringbom, who

lot

mentioned. There were a

to

Germany]

in

do a Ph.D. with Gombrich

There were others too

Sixten

of very, very good people around, and

they were very different, you know. The Warburg Institute tended to attract people

who

didn't really

fit

in

focused a program as

elsewhere, partly because

it

does now, and that

independent odd people of some

SMITH:

We talked

little bit

it

maybe

didn't

found very congenial. These were

about Giotto

and the Orators

you probably were working on the two books

BAXANDALL:

Well, not quite, but they

Painting and Experience

in fact, I

at

the

wrote very quickly.

Warburg and various

quite a long time for a

book

it

was going

material from earlier times.

As

to get through proof stage.

to be a laborious

Orators, so the [Painting

infer

from

had to do four lectures for

used various material

and the next big job was the German sculpture book.

a year later, so

tandem.

in

Press took something like a year and a half to put Giotto

that

and your next

last time,

come out of the same background of work.

the history school to give at Senate House, and

teaching

all

sort.

book was Painting and Experience, which was published


that that

time have as

at that

thinguntil

used

In those days

it

took

remember, the Oxford

and the Orators

didn't

in

want to

through,

settle

down

to

had finished Giotto and the

and Experience book] was

93

a sort of relaxation, almost.

It

was

written very quickly, and

it

was

basically lectures, not for art historians but for

history students.

SMITH: The two books

each other

parallel

many

in

respects.

notice in Giotto,

you

open with a lengthy discussion of the Latin used by humanists, and Painting and
Experience opens with a very
painting

is

is

much

BAXANDALL:

irritate.

programmatic sentence: "A fifteenth-century

people.

Yes,

It

it

was

written with a

think

it

Gombrich,

Yes,

think.

certainly

of exasperation, maybe, and to

it

isn't

was

so

written to

much

important part of that

social history

and

about that so

much

since then.

think social history

art history.

It's

is

BAXANDALL:

Yes.

It

well the nuances, but that

make some

point, but

is

very clear what you're doing, so

now

more

has a stronger,

my

question

is

not

which has changed somewhat

more
I

affirmative

meaning

would think

that

in

what

like cultural history.

may even have been


is so.

you are describing between

the relationship that

as the category of social history,

book

had intended to

that as a teaching sentence,

terms of demographics and life-course developments, and


you're doing in that

came out of teaching.

SMITH: An

little bit

did irritate people, but not always the people

It irritated

in that

clearer.

think the tone of the sentence you quote

isn't it?

The argumentative tone

the deposit of a social relationship."

second book

irritate

short,

It

was

that then.

I can't really

remember very

affected by reading anthropology.

94

The whole

notion of the cognitive style

chapter,

straight

is

which was coming

the second chapter,

in

from anthropology.

suppose

But the problems represented by

in different

it

me

is

the most important

wasn't the sort of anthropology

into Italian Renaissance social history quite strongly at that time,

with people like [Anthony] Molho and [Richard

different.

which to

that

C]

Trexler and so on;

second chapter are

still

it

was

slightly

me

central to

ways.

SMITH: You have some

very interesting documentation, actually throughout, but

in

the chapter on the contracts

BAXANDALL:

Most of that

whereas the second and

SMITH: How

did

BAXANDALL:
bed the short
short

right

title

got out of the standard art-historical literature,

third chapters

title

absurd, but for

little

catalogs of the British

catalogs, 1450 to 1600,

me

were not out of the standard

you happen upon the material on the

This will sound a

through the

looked to

Italian

Museum

you know

having something to do with visual things.

on some other job very

through them, and

in

visualizing meditations?

some time

Library, as

it

used to read

in

then was. They did

manageable-sized blue books.

went

one and the German one, marking with a pencil things that

promising and interesting from

British Library,

literature.

every five or

material in that second chapter

my point

And

then the next time

likely, I'd

six there

of view; that

to say, entries

went to the

order five or six of them and look

was one which was

comes very much from

95

is

that.

for

me

can't call

gold.

it

The

a method;

it

was

sort

of fishing.

was very keen on

getting at the sermons; and a lot of that

meditational stuff comes from sermons or the books on devotional practices.

that's

how

got

at that.

think

only suits

if one's regularly

SMITH:

Right.

Or

BAXANDALL:

good method, but

it

takes a

in

of time, and

it

some way.

And of course now one would have

Yes.

bit

going to the British Library.

a library that's equivalent in

computer catalog. But

SMITH:

it's

So

those days those short

modem

with some

catalogs were very useful.

title

In a sense, with the visualizing meditation, the

randomness of what one

might find works because you're sort of culling off of the practices which you

acknowledge are broader than what one would

present, but then

when you

get to

questions of color codes, for example, you're beginning to deal with things that are

more

codified,

by

particular color

definition, but also

more normative.

code has some kind of credence and

is

How

does one

not simply

know

some

that a

person's or a

small group's fanciful imposition?

BAXANDALL:

That

different color codes,

and

on

this

seems to

me

did feel

was

a real problem, because

The

find lots

of

and one could find a text for saying blue means such and such
to need great tact.

Actually, a

Saint Antoninus which dealt with this quite a

festschrift.

you can

festschrift is called Htille

few years ago,

bit; it's in

undFulle, and

ago. These clearly-conceptualized color symbolisms

96

it

seem

wrote an

article

Tilman Buddensieg's

came out about


to

me

five years

not very useful for

using on painting, because so

many

other things

marvelous book, Color and Culture,


because he meets

there's

problem too.

this

in

come

SMITH:

talks.

Tact

is

John Gage has written a

which he deals with

agree that this

any purely methodical means of addressing

one of our

in.

what one has to

is

it.

all

this

very tactfully,

a problem, and

think

don't think

used the word "tact"

in

use.

Everything you write seems very restrained, to use another term.

BAXANDALL:

Yes. In the Saint Antoninus article

make

the point that

when one

has these verbalized symbolisms for visual things, one gets into a very complicated

situation.

The

article

was

called "Pictorially-enforced Signification

[:

Fra Angelico, and the Annunciation"]. What I'm concerned with there

St Antoninus,

is

that a

painter has to be explicit about certain things which a writer doesn't have to address.

Saint

Luke

telling the story

of the Annunciation has to use tenses.

A painter

use colors. So one really cannot use these formal color symbolism systems.
other hand, and this intrigues me, one gets reciprocal

systems, the linguistic system

of, say,

movement between

theology, and the pictorial system.

the

has to

On

the

two

think

theologians like Saint Antoninus are led to talk about the color of the Virgin's dress,

or the color of the angel's hair or dress partly by looking


elaborate on

pressures.

SMITH:

this.

But

So you get a

know of no

rather dense situation

at pictures,

where you get reciprocal

schematic method for dealing with

In terms of the final section,

when

97

and then they

this.

you're decoding the language of the art

criticism

of the period, did you have

criteria for selecting the

terms that you chose to

discuss?

BAXANDALL:

Well,

chose just the terms that were

in this [Cristoforo]

Landino

text.

SMITH: But

assume

that

you weren't exhaustive. You probably could have

filled

thousand pages or more.

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

could have, and,

in fact, after I

had done

that, I

a different text for representing the set of key terms relating to art

right at the beginning

know,
text

was here was

man

terms which otherwise

way

a text written

of the sixteenth century by Francesco Lancilotti. But, you

something arbitrary about

there's

took to using

in

this.

What

interested

applying to specific painters, in a

me

critical

about the Landino

way we

recognize,

the fifteenth century had been invoked in a rather general

rather than as descriptive criticism.

SMITH: As I was

reading the book,

had a sense that

in

some of the

structure of the

argument, and even the structure of some of the sentences, that you were aware that

you could be

criticized for speculation,

some of these

things.

what you attempted

was wondering what

criticisms

you expected

in

in

advance to
advance and

to prepare for?

BAXANDALL: What
wild, or speculative.

and that you were responding

expected

in

advance was to be considered

philistine,

suppose the criticism of the book wasn't quite what

98

and

expected.

Some of the

reviews were very negative

Something which hadn't occurred to

Bulletin, for example.

me

some of the

quite strongly by

Ulrich Middeldorf

elder scholars around the

suppose

it

evoked

art historians like

[Wilhelm] Pinder

very compromised by their record, and

somebody

like

Middeldorf didn't

like the

was doing

that,

cultural skills mainly,

through

I still

it

evokes for me,

BAXANDALL:
certainly

think

found

my mind

difficult

who would seem more

and

was

was

ideologically sinister.

had 1930s

it

because

Zeitgeist.

found

why

certainly hadn't

was

all, I

talking about

hadn't lived

this difficult.

that's interesting,

because the

obvious to me, would be [Arnold]

Antal.

Well,

daresay, yes; there

Gombrich would have

felt,

were resonances with


you know,

not Antal so much, but Hauser.

personally. His

book [The Social History of Art],

is

that

Germany, people who were

in

and these people had, so

brush as Hauser

section,

Warburg was

book; for some people

don't think this

actually hadn't crossed

Hauser or [Frederick]

and which was put to

thought, but one had to be sensitive. After

this myself, the 1930s,

SMITH: That
people

and

the Art

in

think this must have been one reason

vibrations of a really unpleasant sort. This

thought

review

me

was

trying to resuscitate the notion of Zeitgeist, and that this

written very

much

color of the hostile response

that

And

was

that too,

that this

was

99

this

tarred with the

really loathe

Hauser

same

not

particularly the Renaissance

out of Antal and [Martin] Wackernagel.

was

and

Zeitgeisty,

So the main

and Hauserish.

You know,

a rather soft,

was

Max Dvorak

kind of reading of social conditions and pictures, which

disconcerting, because

had thought

was being

philistine

and

brisk,

writing for historians, not art historians, but people didn't seem to find

philistine.

way

it

didn't

occur to

SMITH: How
respond to

under people's skin

didn't get

me

in

the

way

was aiming

to.

it

and anyway

very

But

did in a

would.

did the social historians of Renaissance Italy, or the cultural historians,

it?

BAXANDALL: On the whole they didn't. Maybe


but at that time, although

had seen

it

later

some of them looked

as an undergraduate textbook, in a

at

it,

way, both

on the Renaissance and on making an argument of the relevance of art to general


history,

absolutely didn't penetrate at

it

historians picked

it

SMITH: Do you
audience

On

expected.

preselects your audience?

don't think so, because

it

wasn't in any specific

hadn't been at the Institute that long at that time.

Institute."

think

books about

art.

SMITH: So

the

BAXANDALL:

the other hand, the art

think because you're at the Warburg, that that predisposes your

some way, or

in

BAXANDALL:
book.

up more than

that way.

all in

it

was perhaps mainly

word

painting in the

Yes, and

it

has too

way

You know,

Warburg
wasn't "old

that English social historians don't read

precludes certain people from picking

title

many

pictures;

100

it's

just not the style

it

up.

of book they

would spend time

on.

SMITH: Of course,

BAXANDALL:
know,

It

was

in print

it's still

Oh,

a disappointment to me.

it's still

in print,

but

it

took a long time to establish

You

itself.

wasn't a quick success.

it

SMITH:

wonder

if you

could describe a

typescripts for either Giotto

little bit

Gombrich's comments on

and the Orators and/or Painting and Experience, what

kinds of criticisms he proffered, what you found useful, and what you found sort of

irrelevant.

BAXANDALL:
Experience.

period

was

I'm not even sure

He would

BAXANDALL:

to in this

way

have read manuscripts for Giotto and the Orators over the

chapter?

Yes,

think.

I still

It's

it

it.

way. The people

their notations

not that Gombrich wasn't aware of what

And

gave things

were Gertrud Bing

was doing

in

Giotto

I'm sure he'd have seen the final draft and

wasn't quite as close as the contact of Gertrud Bing and

Painting and Experience maybe he

like

in this

have the manuscripts with

Orators, he was, very.

comments, but

But I'm not aware of getting back from Gombrich

had drafted and which he'd read

and Joe Trapp.

and the

gave him the manuscript for Painting and

writing them.

SMITH: Chapter by

things which

didn't see,

That was written very quickly.

because

wrote

101

it

J.

made

B. Trapp.

had some sense he wouldn't

over one summer and must have

sent

John Nicoll

in to

it

SMITH:

In Painting

at the

Oxford Press

and Experience

to

in the

autumn.

what degree was the section on the "period

eye" and your discussion of the psychology of vision influenced by Art

or

was

clearly

it

some way a divergence from Gombrich? At

in

on Gombrich's home

BAXANDALL:
owes

Yes. No,

least in that section

you were

turf.

it

wasn't

in

divergence from Gombrich at

all.

That section

a huge amount to his account of projection, a huge amount, and that underlies

the whole thing. Looking back now,

think of all

learnt

huge amount,

this

share,

has been the thing which has been within

all that,

sense that chapter

from Gombrich, which

is

preoccupation with projection, what one supplies, the beholder's

is

me

always

since.

In that

very Gombrichian, certainly.

SMITH: Both books were


out in

and Illusion,

written in the

shadow of Norm and Form, which comes

'66.

BAXANDALL:

Which

edited.

Michael Podro edited the

Gombrich's essays, Meditations on a Hobby Horse, and

Norm and Form

very well, right through. That

Renaissance

and

SMITH:
course

art,

it's

was looking

volume of

did the second one.

knew

volume with general essays on

a marvelous volume.

at

your sources; particularly

had the second edition only,

BAXANDALL:

is

first

in

Painting

couldn't locate the

and Experience. Of

first edition.

In the second edition, mainly because the Italian edition had

102

done

it,

added the

original Italian texts.

and tone very


or another

SMITH:

It

And

light.

thought
struck

then

Originally

had wanted to keep the whole format

added half a dozen references, which for one reason

should add.

me

that

many of the

section are post- 1972. In fact,

references in the concluding bibliographical

think almost

all

of the sources on schools and

education were post- 1972, so maybe you had access to them before they were

published?

BAXANDALL:

No,

I didn't.

think [Gino] Arrighi

of publication appeared on education

here; an awful lot

Painting and Experience was published.

in

the British

people to

Museum,

this;

in the

way

seemed

it

[Filippo] Calandri

wasn't that the

book

and so on
led

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: What

BAXANDALL:

and

on these

didn't

know about

things.

But

them.

When

as these studies

wrote

in

had come out

sensible to put the references in the revised edition.

SMITH: You had

manuscripts

gone to

So

I've described.

at that stage

'72 there wasn't really a literature

it

I'd just

in fifteenth-century Italy after

they had been working on the things for years independently, but they

simply hadn't published

since,

was one of the people important

direct contact with Kristeller, at least for the Giotto

book?

Yes.
kind of comment did he provide to you?

Kristeller

when

was very

helpful.

He wrote

was doing Giotto and the Orators.

103

letters

with references to

think Kristeller

would have

liked

me

to

He

of thing.
think he

do more

in the

way of editions of books,

never said that to me, but

would have

me

liked

think he

collating manuscripts, that sort

felt I

rather backslided there.

to collate the three manuscripts of Bartolomeo Fazio.

[Tape V, Side Two]

BAXANDALL:

In a previous meeting

you raised the matter of training

paleography and that sort of thing. That wasn't what

was always very

helpful.

saw him not so long ago,

and a nice man. And certainly

SMITH: The key works

his Iter Italicum

you

that

cite in the

in

was

trained

in,

in

but Kristeller

Chicago. He's a great man,

was always on the

table to

work

from.

notes to Giotto are those by [Anthony]

Blunt, [Andre] Chastel, Rensselaer Lee, and then LeonelloVenturi, of course,

who

is

a big chunk of your bibliography. Did you have direct contact with any of them, and

how

did

you assess

BAXANDALL:

It

their

work from your own

was mainly Adolfo

would have been long dead.


criticism,

think, but

it

remember, mainly.

really the standard English

stands up very well.

to the

Warburg

Venturi,

may have

his

point of view?

think,

who was

listed Leonello's

was Adolfo's marvelous

and Gentile da Fabriano, and

which

critical

book on

book on the

history of art

edition of Vasari's lives

pictures of Saint

Jerome

of Pisanello

the Renaissance

in

never met Rensselaer Lee. His Ut Pictura Poesis was

language work on the subject

The two

the father, so he

knew were

Institute occasionally

at that time,

and

it still

Chastel and Blunt. Chastel used to

and was always very

104

friendly.

also

come

knew

Robert Klein,

who

at that

time was working with Chastel as his assistant.

French work of Chastel's and Klein's very much, because

and a

bit

odd.

It

it

my

in

and examinations, because he was

in

mind.

saw

quite a lot of Blunt in committees

the University of London

he was also on the management committee of the Warburg

Italy,

interested in Renaissance art theory.

book. In a sense,

Giotto

and the

on the

role

of language

in

Warburg.

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

thinking of what one

don't

these things

polarity with the

last

think so.

was

it

was doing and

really the leading

wasn't that serious;

Renaissance

light at the

I'd

was

a pioneer book,

first

and an

chapter with

it

some way formed

was simply

if

one was

Courtauld

appeared.

music theory and

105

it

Though John Shearman,


at this time,

have been happy to have written;

and Experience

really expansive, bringing in

think,

placing oneself in relationship to other people,

marvelous book on mannerism which


quite soon after Painting

and

directed to Blunt.

time that the Courtauld in

It

He,

there,

a point of it, a lot of what I'm doing

the Courtauld people one put oneself in relationship to.

who was

was

is

make

was

Institute.

thinking of superseding just his

Orators. Although

SMITH: You had mentioned

was

was

when

That book [Artistic Theory in

1450-1600] was a work of his extreme youth, but

intelligent

curiously individual,

had odd focuses and was very interesting indeed. So Chastel and

Klein were certainly big figures

no longer much

was

liked this

produced a
this

was

[Shearman's book Mannerism]

literary

theory and that sort of

So

thing.

polarity,

was an element of polarity

if there

think.

developments

did either

at the

a self-dramatizing sense of

between what

you

individually or the

end of the 1950s, there wasn't

Warburg

lot in the

really that

1960s.

much

departments.

universities,

some connected with

number of the English

didn't think

as a collective

When

at

view

representing a specific thing. There were simply

in

arrived in London,

the universities. In

some connected with

expanded

other places as in any

more

the

the development of new

universities started or

of what was going on

art history in

the sixties, and also in the seventies, for various reasons,

syllabuses, a large

was doing

other British universities?

This ballooned quite a

development of new

to.

in art history at the

BAXANDALL:

was

certainly don't see any basic divide

any rate and what they were up

SMITH: How

it

art historians

art history

way

of many different

kinds there.

suppose the main

shift in

the character of art history

general studies departments in art schools, which

lot

of the more interesting younger

art historians

was

was mandated
went

the development of

in this period,

into these general studies

departments. This could be documented. Michael Podro did that, and T.

who

is

here at Berkeley, did

it

for a time.

also did

some teaching

departments. That led to a general loosening of constraints,

sort

of thing you usefully teach an

art

student

106

isn't

and a

in

J.

Clark,

these

suppose, because the

the sort of thing

you

usefully teach

an

art history student,

and

it

led to

more

different kinds

seventies.

Later on, the general studies departments

went more

into things like film studies

they were mainly

As

for

of art history

moved away from

and that sort of thing, but

Oxford and Cambridge,

There was a sudden increase


art historians in

in

didn't think

the sixties, and

and

art history

in the early

years

of them as having any specific

maybe even more

England, very sudden indeed, for

don't think I'm answering your question,

collectively.

the sixties and

art history.

character different from art history elsewhere; there were simply

academic

in

Some of them were

which

is

how

in

art historians.

the seventies, of

these reasons. But

saw them.

close friends of mine,

all

more

didn't see

some of them were

them

straight

Courtauld Institute people; they were very mixed.

SMITH: Were you going

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: Not

didn't exist in those days.

yet then?

BAXANDALL:
about 1970,

They

to the national art history meetings?

I'd

No, the Association of Art Historians

England must have started

have thought.

SMITH: So were you one of the

BAXANDALL:

in

founding members of that?

No.

SMITH: Of course you

BAXANDALL: You

weren't an art historian, exactly.

know,

again,

it's

a matter of self-dramatization, and

107

dramatized myself as not an

was

anyway. But

think

And

was involved

session.

because

it

I'm not a huge joiner of associations

art historian.

in

the second year that

on with

early

got involved with that that

its

joined.

gave a lecture

at

the plenary

magazine, Art History.

But

that

think

it's

was through knowing

the

editor.

SMITH: Speaking of magazines, had you had any

relationship with the Burlington

Magazine?

B AXANDALL: No,

I've

never been close to the Burlington, except for

Terence Hodgkinson being editor of it some years back for a short time.
review for them quite a

SMITH: And

did

BAXANDALL:

bit,

mainly

German

it

friend

used to

sculpture books.

you know [Benedict] Nicolson


met him, but

my

at all?

would be misleading

to say

knew

him.

SMITH: What

about the Warburg's relationship with the Bartlett [School of

Architecture]?

Was

BAXANDALL:
being close

SMITH:

at

Really very

It's

all.

Right.

BAXANDALL:

there any kind of connection there?

peculiar,

after

he

can't

because

it

remember the

a [Rudolf]

Yes. I'm not sure whether that would

left

Bartlett

was just across the

And Reyner Banham had been

Warburg, partly because

know,

little.

and the Warburg

square.

Wittkower

make Banham

student.

close to the

think Wittkower had reserves about the Institute,

it.

108

you

SMITH:

mentioned Venturi, and you had and continue to have,

community

in Italy.

Where

did

you

fit

in the

suppose, a

[Leonello] Venturi-[Roberto] Longhi

battles?

BAXANDALL:
person.

people

know

admire Longhi hugely.

And Longhi

A lot

at pictures.

literary criticism,

who

Incidentally,

where the

as evidence for this.

they

may be by

in trying to

Longhi, because

training, again,

he might be, and theoretically he


interested in him.

was

I'd like

known
is

in

who

is

other things later on.

and

at pictures

an immensely valuable

very

way

identifying the authors, with reasons.

far

it

is

a polarity there in

Italy.

was

volume of

the English-reading constituency as well as

very interesting indeed. Carlo Ginzburg

to read something by Carlo

In those years, the Italian art historians

Carlo Argan,

is

Looking

get the University of California Press to produce a

think he's not

is

find this very resonant with F. R. Leavis's

would be with Longhi. I'm not sure how

involved

an immensely interesting

of people, Richard Wollheim, for example, have

would adduce

closely with a view to determining

So

is

bring in defense of the notion that real art history

connoisseurship, attribution.

of looking

think he

there are political problems and that sort of thing, but he's one of the

who one would

said this.

The other would be Roberto

found the sort of thing he did very congenial.

109

very

on Longhi.

admired most

an immensely interesting person

is

who went

Salvini,

who

think

would be Giulio

off and did a lot of

liked very

much,

SMITH: Your

next project

was

the

limewood sculptors book [Limewood Sculptors

of Renaissance Germany], which you mentioned


at the

V&A. You

also

research and write.

BAXANDALL:
diverse.

history

gather

mean

it

art history

the catalog entries and the lives of the

artists,

idea, but

book

to write, and

lecture series.

third

was

took

me

Two

didn't

thirds

general

think, so

put at the back

want to do

that, partly

in cultural history.

a long time, partly because

do

that.

was Slade Professor

at

didn't

It

was

heed

was

Oxford, and

did a series of

of each lecture was done on German sculpture. Usually the

on

the topics of the book, but dealing with

never really published these sections of those lectures.

did

which

the art

Gombrich's very good advice always to do the book before doing the

sufficiently

lectures.

it

By

believed in the usefulness of this sort

of information. Then there was a large range of reading

difficult

to take forever to

of it as well as the other things.

was coming out of the museum and

was going

did take quite a long time.

of the book, which may not have been a good


because

it

time grew out of your position

took a long time because the kinds of reading involved were very

wanted to do the

It

mentioned that you knew

last

writing

them

in

a bit of a slog, that book, really;

74, and

it

it

them

had to do the lectures

didn't help in writing the

was hard work, and

generally.

knew

it

book. So

was going

degree were you continuing to develop from Painting

110

I've

in

75,

it

was

to be hard

work.

SMITH: To what

first

and

Experience a further elaboration of the connection between

and

social history

art

history?

BAXANDALL:
book both

as being deeper than Painting

different culture

setting

do

in

So

it

That was deliberate, and

saw

that as programmatic.

and Experience and

saw

also

saw

as doing certain things

it

which

this

dealing with a very

from roughly the same period as Painting and Experience,

But

off.

sort

of

hadn't had occasion to

Painting and Experience such as dealing with materials and that sort of thing.
,

did see

it,

seen Painting

in a sense, as a

and Experience

Limewood Sculptors

SMITH: During
could look to

more

in

solid

Painting

and Experience

as pretty lightweight and flighty,

had always

whereas

saw The

as heavyweight.

that time

a positive

was anything being published or work coming out

way

you

that

as parallel to your interest in bringing together social

history and art history?

BAXANDALL:

think quite a lot

social historian really,

was coming

produced a book on the

Innovation in the Italian Renaissance, which


concurrently with

things.

historians.

Italian

To mention

German

was

think he had been writing

quite a lot of it about.

sculpture book,

At the beginning of the

didn't see

seventies, T.

111

one, Peter Burke, a

Renaissance, Tradition

my writing Painting and Experience,

think there

finished the

out.

in

and

more or

which he does very

Certainly by 1980,

when

Clark's

similar

had

myself as different from other

J.

less

art

books on Courbet came

out, which,

much more

suppose by 1980, even,

of art,
and

in

than mine, were programmatic social history of art.

was

a bit uneasy about being

lumped with the

a general category, because between 1970 and 1980 there

didn't see

myself completely

art history, as a sort

at

ease with

it.

I still

saw

social history

was so much of it,

myself, insofar as

did

of old-fashioned English aesthete, of the sort of Roger

Fry/Ruskin kind, but an aesthete with certain

interests.

never have

felt at

ease with

the social history of art.

SMITH: So you

didn't feel that

you were doing a Renaissance counterpart to The

Absolute Bourgeois, or what Clark would

BAXANDALL:

No, and

SMITH: You mentioned


end, and yet you

felt

it

don't think he'd see

was important.

example of an antibiographical
artists,

do with the Painter of Modern Life?


it

that

way

either.

you had questions about putting the biographies

that

Renaissance northern European

around the

later

In a review essay

art history,

stance, since

at the

read on medieval and

your treatment of the

artist is

taken as an

you chose not to organize the book

and you relegated them to an appendix,

in

a way, or the last

chapter.

BAXANDALL:

Well, that

considered odd by the

all

sure,

because

structuring of any

is

certainly true.

German

have been

scholars of German sculpture of this period I'm not at

don't think they'd have

book on

How far that would

that episode

done

it

either.

of art to do

112

it

It

would be

a rather perverse

biographically or

monographically, even though one might write a book on an individual sculptor. The
history of the stuffjust doesn't

motives here, not that

work

was aware

that way.

of,

anyway;

don't think

it

was simply

had strong ideological


the

way one had

to deal

with various general things, and then one had to accommodate individuals within
these general patterns, and that seemed to

that

way now. Some of the

have been two books,

critics

though

that

my

SMITH:

citing a

beginning essays were rather larger than

model which
you can

it.

I'm not sure

came out

it

fit

Italian

with

felt

this.

Italy,

it

do

it

should

and the notes on the

this.

suppose

my

Renaissance sculpture,

his.

book

is

cited as an

and a thoroughgoing grounding of art back into

New Left

Marxist position, and yet you're

suppose would be indicative of the most old-fashioned kind of

That's so.

is

The reason

that

mention

suspect this

may be

this criticism

so.

you know, episodes of art which were

But there was no

had to make

that

I'd

write.

books rather than one


France or

art history

think with a presumption from a

BAXANDALL:

do

There's an irony there, because at least in this essay your

art history

done

to

didn't really

it

was John Pope-Hennessy's books on

exemplar of revisionist
society,

way

part with the biographies

objects should have been a separate book;

model for

the

of the book when

The back

really.

me

literature at

all

this material accessible, so I

at that

saw

113

If I

had been writing on,

better

time

this as a

in

of it maybe being two

known,

say,

wouldn't have

English on these sculptors.

necessary appendix of the

work, though

still

my own

had a sort of connoisseur's

attribution

don't

know what

out,

know

very well the

in

in

the earlier part.

No, even

interest in these sculptors,

that's

not true;

and the problems of

and that sort of thing.

came

mainly

were

interests

was

review

that, again, there

German

museums, not

article this

was almost

art historians

in universities.

but

is,

my memory

of that book, when

a political problem about

who worked on

the sculpture,

Picking up a point you raised

it.

it

got to

who were

last

time

apropos of Sauerlander's view of Munich, they wrote very unspeculative,


connoisseurship[-oriented], attributional and occasionally documentary stuff on the

remember

sculpture.

he warned

me

that

talking to a

German

art historian

was working on what he

because of its history

in the

called a

age,

like

Pinder and his pupils,

who were

suppose ... he may even have been a

compromised

subject, again,

politically in that period, particularly

still

around. This art historian

little bit

impossible for any

German of his

SMITH: Can you

tell

BAXANDALL:

think not.

SMITH: Okay.

It

could be sealed, you know.

BAXANDALL:

It

was Martin Warnke. You know,

us

wasn't one of these, and

Nazi period. These sculptors, Veit Stoss, [Tilman]

Riemenschneider and so on, had been used very

by people

who

who

he

younger.

generation to write on this

He

said that

it

was my

was

art.

is?

114

I'm sure he wouldn't

mind

it

being known. But that was the pressure

I felt.

On

the one hand,

simply do the connoisseur art history job on these sculptors;

Here

cultural stuff.

was driven by an absolute

carvings and what they could be related

than

some

it

was

a problem.

think the

who worked on German

others.

Sauerlander

German. Also,

is

at that

polite about

stage

still

non-German addressing German

there

art.

It

great connoisseurs, like [Campbell]

And

that

was

a bit aware of too.

culture could be behind

objects.

They were

somebody

though

it

liked in

was

the job.

slightly hubristic

was

it

all

into

about a

prints

and drawings.

very urgent curiosity about what

Veit Stoss,

also wanting to

the

done much, apart from one or

who

carved these extraordinary

really very puzzling objects indeed.

And

this

by others, but not

liked

Dodgson on German

my own

Germany by

was

steering

various social awkwardnesses rather than intellectual awkwardnesses,

how I saw

all

as a problem,

His wife translated

hadn't been

had

like

was aware of this

was something

two

But

for example.

it,

wanted to do

fascination with these extraordinary

book was not

sculpture,

wanted to not

That was the driving force there, rather

ideological or theoretical urgency.

and indeed
people

to.

do a more

solid

between
think; that's

Painting and

Experience.

SMITH:

will

Limewood to
place, but

probably have more questions next time, as

the next batch of books, where there

maybe we could

discuss the classes

115

seem

we

to be

sort

more

you were teaching

of move from
shifts

at the

taking

Warburg.

You

had a

set lecture

BAXANDALL:

and seminar

way

Well, the

it

series for the

students, not art history, and

SMITH: But

it

was

BAXANDALL:

we

all

Yes,

it

saw

think.

course

at the

it

SMITH:

Italian or

BAXANDALL:

the

M.

varied from year to year.

You know, one


It

it

might be a

did different things for

wasn't a huge burden.

In the

M.

course was the rhetoric and dialectic,

enjoyed teaching a

criticism,

lot,

and

taught

it

rather well,

because one could analyze

did rhetoric and dialectic.

did one

on economic

The other

history,

was teaching

things varied.

did one

on

did one on Renaissance art history.

European?

European. What else?

did one on Federigo da Montefeltro, the

Duke of Urbino. That was more ad hoc from


up new

was

terms of the dialectical patterns being used and that sort

used to develop new courses.

It

tended to change. All the twenty years or so

Warburg,

Melanchthon, and

my main

amount of art

art criticism in

of thing. Otherwise
this

which

as central, and

did use a certain

Renaissance

it.

might be humanism, or patronage of art, or

course on Renaissance studies,

take

a cultural history course?

undergraduates. That went on through the year.

which

Renaissance for history

Italian

did a bit in that.

general thing on the concept of Renaissance.

Phil,

Phil.

went, one had two lots of teaching: one

and the Warburg also did a course on the

Phil.,

M.

year to year.

things, partly in relationship to the needs

116

You know, one

thought

of the course for a trimming and

balance.

One had

somebody might not be

to rebalance the course intermittently, or

of thing. But the center of my teaching was the rhetoric and

there, that sort

One's main teaching of course was supervising dissertations;

dialectic.

what took most of

that's

one's time.

SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: These

when you moved from

start that

No,

did

it

as lecturer already.

mentioned before,

Were

supervised a lot of theses.

are Ph.D. dissertations?

BAXANDALL: Some were Ph.D.s,

SMITH: What

lecturer to reader?

some were M.Phil, s. And of course,

about trends

in student interests in the

kinds of ways they were themselves looking

suppose

early to middle seventies.

do a whole

lot

It

at

were seeing

think

U.K. from

became most aware of a

was

'65 to the early '80s?

coming

to

you

with, the

the materials?

really big shift indeed, in the

at that point, really, that

one

felt

one had to

refit

and

of rather heavy reading of new books; otherwise one was not going to

be able to communicate with one's better students.


specific kinds

learnt a lot.

there changes in the questions that the students were

BAXANDALL:

as

of questions;

things,

it

is

to put this in terms of

simply that the whole framework in which people

and the meanings of terms were

mainly as something happening

It's difficult

in

shifting.

was aware of this

France and Germany. There were people

England of course doing many of these

things,

117

in

and Americans coming to the Warburg

Institute

of course were well informed about

than Frankfurt,

really, that I

was aware

difficult to sort

of sum

in

SMITH:

it

up

of;

it,

but

it

was

was such

it

Paris and Munich, rather

a big shift

find

it

rather

terms of new questions.

In the U.S. the early seventies

was

the heyday of Levi-Strauss, and classical

structuralism.

BAXANDALL:

Yes, one would

call

it

now, and to an extent one did

structuralism

then.

SMITH: But

Althusser

BAXANDALL:

was

also important.

Yes, Althusser

of my students happened to be
and

though

still isn't,

SMITH: But

didn't really

know

about, presumably because none

Althusser

interested.

have a sense of him.

think

it

was not
was

part

of my repertory,

generally structuralism.

then you also mentioned Habermas.

BAXANDALL:
I first

Yes, Habermas. There's a certain amount of coincidence there;

heard of Habermas through Charles Burroughs, an extremely good Ph.D.

student

who now teaches

to work.

He

at

Stony Brook,

who had gone

did his M.Phil, dissertation with

SMITH: To what

me

and

his

for a year or

two

to

Munich

Ph.D. with somebody

degree were the Situationists making a noise?

Of course

else.

I'm

thinking of Clark in particular.

BAXANDALL:
important to

Tim

Yes, they were making a noise and of course they were hugely

Clark.

They

didn't register

118

much;

just wasn't very

aware of them.

SMITH: And

I'm assuming from that therefore not with your students either,

particularly.

BAXANDALL:

No,

outside of people

SMITH:
this

It's

don't think they

who were concerned

were known

at the

time

much

in

England,

with French things.

often written that very critical to the

left intellectual life

of London

at

time was the Screen collective, and the set of events that they organized,

including weekly seminars.

BAXANDALL:

No,

Were you aware of those?

wasn't aware of those.

SMITH: Okay.

BAXANDALL:
history and

SMITH:

I'm sorry, one

is

very untidy from the point of view of intellectual

what one should have known

Well, I'm not blaming you certainly.

Renaissance studies, though certainly by


but they've

become permanent,

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

much
I

The

now

time but didn't know.

And

film studies

is

a stretch from

those bridges have not only been built

think.

keep looking

strength of film studies doesn't

most.

at the

lie

at film studies,

but

it

seems to

film criticism very relevant to

up with the

my work.

literature, I don't,

doing the things with the film that

a lot of the

quite in the sort of visual things that interest

strengths are very often in the criticism of narrative, and

regularly keep

me

I'd like

don't

have not found

want to give the impression

that

but what I've read doesn't seem to be

to be doing with pictures.

119

me

My interests are

in

manipulations of visual attention, and

does

this.

SMITH:

I'm sure

Besides

seventies that

it

I'd

haven't

come

you were finding

love to have references.

At

that to involve publications

that time

in Britain in the

exciting and perhaps affiliating yourself with?

assume your major connections would be

BAXANDALL:

across the film criticism which

were there publications developing

art history,

Maybe we can expand


though

and

exists,

on the Continent or
in Britain.

wasn't connected with any journals except the Journal

of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes and Art History. Journals

Image come
it

can't

rather later

be before the

think.

I'm not sure what year

late seventies.

v/as

great reader of the art history journals;

on the board of that

was

was reading

that sort

like

Word and

Word and Image

started, but

at that time.

wasn't a

a very conscientious reader of certain

straight historical journals dealing with regions that interested

Italy.

in the U.S.,

me,

like

Germany and

of thing rather than general intellectual journals.

[Tape VI, Side One]

BAXANDALL: As for American journals,


did quite a lot of reading in things like

it

wasn't an entirely regular reading, but

New Literary History,

Now I can't remember when the Raritan review began.


read fairly consistently, but

was not

that sort

of journal.

That, for various reasons, I've

systematically covering the ground.

Very often

one would meet a journal through somebody giving one a copy of an issue which

happened to have an

article

on something which interested one, and then one read

120

beyond

that article; that

was

way

the

it

went. But

was very

interested in

New

Literary History.

SMITH: When

BAXANDALL:
issue.

more

did your students start raising questions about gender and sexuality?

say that in the early to middle seventies

I'd

But the form

it

came up

in

a question simply of what

Germany. The more


deal later.

Looked

became aware of that

wasn't really in gender studies terms;

women were

interesting extensions

at

from the Warburg

doing

in

Renaissance

it

Italy

Institute,

which

a rather

is

primarily a matter of students wanting to study things which

SMITH:

more than

and

of this into gender studies came a good

odd conning point

for this, in the ten years from the early seventies to the early eighties this

that level;

was much

women

was

really

had done.

It's

that there wasn't.

Witchcraft has been a subject of great interest to

and of course you've mentioned Ginzburg before, so


exclusively feminist, and

it

it's

some

feminist scholars,

not something that's

would seem possibly something

that

would

fit

into

your

time period and also perhaps the Warburg rubric.

BAXANDALL:
witchcraft and

Warburg angle

It

and Perkin Walker

certainly did,

worked on

it

lot.

suppose

rather than a feminist angle.

interested in people like Walker,

who were

really

didn't

in particular

was

saw the whole

work on

it

interested in

subject

myself, but

interested in the relationship

from a
I

was

of this

subject to the continuity of the classics, extensions of this, and the relationship of

121

on

witchcraft and the witchcraft hunters to intellectual history. There

intellectual historical interest in this.

don't

was

a rather

remember the Warburg being aware of

feminist interests in witchcraft.

SMITH: What

about gay studies or queer studies to the Renaissance?

BAXANDALL:
seventies quite.

They came

good

became aware of them

literature rather than the things

early because

seventies

still isn't

knew people

don't

that

remember

much gay

at

SMITH:

I've actually left out

and

Berkeley, and

good book on

Those

on.

New Left Marxist

not aware of any in the

the study of English Renaissance

think

knew about

was informed about

really, in relationship

that

but

interpretation

this.

But

to Italian

quite

in the

art.

There

There's been the stuff on

what was the big thing

but perhaps were taking

BAXANDALL:

That side of things

don't

remember

think

that,

was more

and not be disposed to think

it.

was working

still

that's later I think.

the seventies, which

in

was

the

of class was being raised by

Did you have students who were excited about your vision of social history

art history,

gender

was

studies in Italian art history.

someone wrote

degree to which a

initially in

being studied,

it

Narcissus

students.

deal later.

in

it

further than

but

in

touch with.

this is a peculiar interest to

and

interested in class myself.

It's difficult

terms of class. So that

studies, or the structuralist arguments,

Of course

was very

you had intended?

to live in

was aware of it more than

continued to be concerned with

have when one's dealing with

122

England

elite cultural

objects,

and

it

is

that the best historical

And

puts one in a difficult position

in

this; this is

more acute

like myself,

because

documents coincide with the best organized

they carry more information.

solved

somebody

a real problem for

if

one has central class interests as a

obviously informative, but

art,

think

do

feel

still

much

which

art,

historian.

haven't

preoccupies me. But clearly the solution

not in going for the low art genre.

mainly informative in the light

it's

very

simply because

art

the best organized art tends to be elite

something which

analyses of elite

it

Low

lies

art is

throws on high

art.

SMITH: But
would

then that gets back to the questions that one's asking. The questions,

think, precede the material.

BAXANDALL:
how
I'd

wonder.

think in

far the analytical interests

have to admit

the objects

certain sort

I've

come

my

case often

would

know

difficult to

like.

think

have tended to work more on

on the objects which would lend themselves to answering a

the

Warburg

affected by the student upheavals

The Warburg was

a small research institute.

any undergraduate students except these history students

England,

it

of question.

BAXANDALL:

afternoons.

find

before the objects one happens to

been rather self-indulgent here.

liked than

SMITH: How was

in

One

wasn't well placed to watch this there.

when people ask me about

'68,

We didn't

really

have

who came on Thursday


think, in general, at

I'm really hard-put to

123

of '68 to 72?

remember

any rate

incidents.

did see one demonstration.

what was going on

my

case,

and

this

in

It's

France,

in

maybe not

Germany, where

restructuring of the universities

very

friends were,

was very much

it

more than

in

extent,

there,

France,

my

what was going on

a bit about

if I

were being

sense of '68 as

it

really honest

in Italy,

at that time,

it

SMITH:

If I

would have been

Institute in the first instance,

observation points for

later.

'68.

So

was more aware of

a matter of internal

think.

is

may be wrong

that in

in Paris.

but not as

Germany

To

was not

here,

it

was

a lesser

much was going on

have to say

politics; the

think that

my main

general importance and

had known more about France, or been

a different matter, clearly, but the

and England

aware of

universities.

this, I'd

happened was of the university

the resonance of it only sank in

France

about

think

more than

and what one heard about tended to be within

So

impression

a matter of battles within the academy,

knew

fairly well

aware as one should have been. In

as well

never read any of the history of this, but

much

of level. One was

that sort

was a matter of where my

what was going on

I've

on

in the

in

Warburg

second instance, were not good

as well informed as

should have been.

This period that we've been talking about could be described in a number of

ways: the thoroughgoing Americanization of British popular entertainment, or the

amalgamation of British and American popular


that

much of left

pop

film kinds

culture, with the curious side effect

culture took the form of Americanized kinds of popular music or

of things.

How did you

respond to this?

124

BAXANDALL:
happened rather

Now, how
more

Well, the

earlier;

As

Cambridge when
started going to

reasons;

it

SMITH:

lots

think

of them, and then

people

is

my

impression

in the late fifties

is

and early

that this

sixties.

more popular music, and one took


I

had had a period

had given them up, but

was

it

at

in the sixties I

for very serious cultural

Whatever was playing


lot,

was playing?

that

was good, or one was

yes.

told

was good.

That meant mainly French and

American movies a

Movies came

lot too.

whereas the popular music was new. Listening to the Beatles and other

at that

time was a

new

thing for people like me.

having listened to much popular music, except jazz.


jazz and

that

happened to go more.

occasionally Italian at that stage for me.

in,

say

can't pretend that this

suppose continental movies quite a

back

a lot

Continental movies, or whatever

BAXANDALL:

I'd

movies had been concerned,

movies again.

was simply

me? One heard

far as

saw

thing

was underway already

it

did that affect

seriously.

first

suppose

came

into listening to popular

don't

remember

as a student

had always been interested

music a

little bit

more

in

easily

because of that.

SMITH: Were you


thought

it

was an

BAXANDALL:

listening to popular

interesting social

It

was

do most of my writing

in

in

the

air.

music because you enjoyed

it,

or because you

phenomenon, or people were talking about


That's the

first thing.

those days between eleven and

125

The second
two

thing

at night,

and

is I

it?

used to

used to

find

it

helpful to insulate myself from any noise of the children, or whatever,

a radio on very low, and that's what one listened

nothing else to

SMITH: Oh,

listen to at that

was very

Yes,

in

was

partly because there

was

off?

England there was no

late in getting a television set, so

television set until Watergate

was

It

time of night.

the classical station

BAXANDALL:

to.

by having

classical

meet

didn't

remember the two

music during those hours.

it

through

that.

didn't get a

things coincided: Watergate and

getting a television.

SMITH: Not

to

BAXANDALL:
passed on from

SMITH: Given

watch the Watergate hearings,


Well,

my

that

your wife

is

a painter,

some

degree.

BAXANDALL: To

some

degree.

London

art scene,

my

wife,

that sort

but yes,

and people

at that time,

I'd

in

of thing. So

was

got to

it

was

didn't think

lot

you were obviously involved with

can't pretend to

various

and partly through a

deliberate.

it

mother-in-law.

art to

contemporary

hope.

watch the Watergate hearings, but no,

certainly did

ways

be deeply involved

was aware,

know through

still

the family.

partly through

it

wasn't in any

of myself as being one of the people

following contemporary painting, but

had quite a

126

lot to

the

my

father

Also partly through Kay,

of friends. Partly through teaching

mix of things, and yet

in

in art schools,

way

who was

do with

it.

very

really

SMITH:

This was the period

you know Richard Hamilton,

BAXANDALL:

when

suppose pop

met him once, when

was examining

was

in its

dominant phase. Did

for instance?

was examining.

examiner for general studies departments


painting and

art

in art schools,

used to act as an external

and he was examining

general studies. That's the only time

encountered him.

SMITH: Did you know of his work?

BAXANDALL: Oh yes,
with

my wife

BAXANDALL:

him

He was
in that

[David] Hockney, did you

Hockney, oddly enough,

Victoria and Albert

to

think he'd been a student and contemporary

at Chelsea.

SMITH: What about

lunch.

partly because

Museum, because he

a very striking figure.

pub quite

frequently.

know of him?

already

knew of when

occasionally used the

never

knew

was

at the

same pub

as

for

him, but I've sat at the table next

knew who he was,

but

we

have never

exchanged a word.

SMITH: Were you

interested in the kinds of explorations that

pop

artists

were

doing?

BAXANDALL:

Yes

was, and inevitably

interest in the Renaissance.

tried to think

of them a

bit in

terms of my

never made anything formally out of it, but there are to

me

obvious resonances between what they were up

So

that did interest me.

127

to,

and vernacular visual

skills.

SMITH: Could you

connect

it

some way back

in

to this

Roger Fry

tradition that

same

There's a rupture that's supposed to be taking place and yet at the

feel part of?

you

time

BAXANDALL:
taste,

which

suppose

think of it

more

context of the kind of "good"

in the

You know, pop

collects Chelsea figures as well as Chinese pots.

seemed to me a

fairly natural sort

the sort of primitivism

you get

of thing.

It

also

1920s painting

in

fits in I

in

would have thought with

England, and the interest

primitive artists like Alfred Wallis and people like Christopher

Many

paint in the light of naif art.

There

is

natural

to

pop

So

art.

it

didn't

Wood, who

in

tried to

English painters went through a phase of this.

a sort of naif phase of Ben Nicholson in the 1920s,

ways close

art

seem

to

me

so strange.

which comes
It

seemed

to

in

me

some
a fairly

move.

SMITH: Was Duchamp

BAXANDALL:

being talked about

knew of him,

but

SMITH: So
the object

the

way

was not

BAXANDALL:
aware of it

much
in

at

time?

don't think he

certainly wasn't being talked about at the

being talked about

at this

Warburg

was being talked

Institute,

but

about.

He

don't think he

was

all.

which Duchamp has been used to emblematize the problem of

a topic of discussion?

That

is

either

in the seventies in

American or

later,

London.

128

or both.

don't

know, but

wasn't

SMITH: Okay.

know how

have one

extensive

last

will be;

it

thing

it

wanted to

could go on or

talk to

it

you about today.

don't

As you

could be quite short.

are

probably aware, the correspondence between Adrian Stokes and Gombrich was
published not too long ago by Richard Read.

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

Yes.

wondered

have any personal observations, however unscientific

if you

they might be, that might help one interpret Gombrich's relationship to Stokes

and to

particular,

BAXANDALL:
intellectual

art criticism

Yes,

this is

and British antiquarian traditions

very important to me.

was

have a bad

general?

here between

split

commitment and emotional commitment. I'm not sure "emotional"

word, but some urgency of feeling.


there

in

remember

feeling this very

much once when

Institute, in

which

either

Gombrich was

talking about Stokes,

or Stokes was talking about Gombrich, and the other one was present.

this.

it

was

the

is

a seminar at the Slade School of Fine Art, in University College, across the

road from the Warburg

and

in

a curiously unpleasant and embarrassing occasion.

Adrian Stokes

really couldn't

cope with Gombrich,

very strong feelings of origin myself in English

antiquarian tradition too.

on the other

was on Gombrich's

side emotionally.

rather clearly;

it's

in

to this

think everybody

felt

had

and the English

side intellectually,

comes out

and

in

some ways

correspondence

in their

a fascinating and rather appalling correspondence.

129

went

argument, and yet

art criticism,

think that element

only

knew

Stokes to talk

to, I didn't

know him

closely, but

had read him long before, and

admire very much several of his books. The Quattro Cento and Stones of Rimini

seem
is

to

me great

just not sustainable.

who

criticism, but

So

But the conceptual framework

art criticism.

It's

a case of a

can't sustain

that's really

how

man who does marvelous,

an argument

saw

in

in a

which

all

intuitive,

this is

done

gut art

conceptual way.

that relationship,

and

this is

complicated, because

in

England there was the old-established and rather good English tradition of sensitive
art criticism,

maybe too

archaeologists.

It

sensitive.

wasn't a

Also, there were the local antiquaries and

homogeneous

tradition, but there

were

and

like the tradition

still like.

I still

adapt very gracefully,

art-historical tradition or art-critical

individual streams

I feel,

which were good and which

of Ruskin for

all

sorts

for a stage in

of reasons. This

it's

England was a

sort

someone who

context and frame of German

art history.

Even though we'd been taught


So

which

of German, Kantian

art history

don't

know

generation who've managed, apart from Michael Podro, because

a very difficult thing for

different way.

didn't

different general culture.

without the Kantian background, which was an impoverished thing.

many people of my

was fond of

to the arrival of German and Austrian practices,

were obviously so much more advanced and came from a

What one had

the

was worried

in

same

is

not of that culture to grasp the general

We haven't had that

things, Plato, say,

those years

130

in

sort

of education.

we've been taught

it

in

London about what was happening

both to the English traditions and to the German-Austrian traditions

am,

rather.

think the hybrid

both sides have been

lost.

was

Returning to Stokes and Gombrich,

Stokes couldn't cope with Gombrich,

really sorry

England.

I still

not altogether graceful, and a lot of the strengths of

wouldn't say that

Gombrich and emotionally I'm with Stokes;

intellectually I'm with

that.

is

in

it's

not as simple as

really was.

And

shared Gombrich's impatience.

SMITH:

Is there

B AXANDALL:
been rereading

Roger

anybody from

that tradition

Richard Wollheim,

recently,

Fry, and yet

its

is in

many ways

could have coped with Gombrich?

because Painting as an Art, which

I've

a hugely Stokesian book, in the tradition of

conceptual framework has a sort of respectability which

previous English studies haven't had.

SMITH: To what

think,

who

I'd

say Richard Wollheim represents

degree, as you're crafting your books, are

aesthetic response that

this.

you thinking about the

you are personally having and communicating?

Is that a

factor?

B AXANDALL:

No,

don't see myself as trying to

communicate, not directly

at

any

rate.

SMITH: What about

BAXANDALL:
think

am

a moral urgency?

Not even

indirectly,

it

that, directly.

seems to

point, to establish a platform

me

Insofar as I'm concerned with either, and

the job of art criticism

from which people can do the

131

is

to stop short at a certain

last

stage themselves.

don't believe in extremely explicit and very determinate readings of pictures;

prefer the sort of criticism which establishes something from which people can

on themselves.

In other words,

would say

that the final stages

much

move

of projection are

highly personal, can be incorrect or correct, but are best not specified by the art

SMITH: To what
engaged

degree were you

in intellectual

BAXANDALL:

in

contact with your father and mother and

discourse?

For about

used to go and rent a house


Edinburgh, and

still

critic.

we saw

fifteen years, in the

in

summer,

Berwickshire, which

is

my

wife and children and

only about an hour's drive from

a lot of them. That contact continued until their deaths a

years ago.

132

few

SESSION FOUR:

MAY,

1996

[Tape VII, Side One]

SMITH:

had a couple of questions relating to Limewood Sculptors, but also

wanted to connect

Language of Art
use the terms

it

to the article that

you wrote

in

New Literary History

History," vol. 10, 1979, pp. 453-65].

art criticism

and

because very, very few people


a language, which

is

In that article

art history interchangeably,

think

would say

an argument you develop

that.

later in

Painting and Experience you say that language

which

You

["The

you say

that

you

found interesting

also say that art history

Patterns of Intention. But

is

in

a conspiracy against experience, so

is

I'm wondering to what degree you see art history as a conspiracy against the

experience of the art objects?

BAXANDALL:

Well, conspiracy

would be putting

it

a bit strong of course, but

think that in most art criticism, quite apart from whether

history, internal structures very quickly turn

relationship to the

structures are

on

development.

does

all levels:

suppose

art criticism

very often

work of art. This

I'd

now than

interests

less to say

me

element

propositions or anything like that.

a lot and

and the

about

in relationship to

feel the substantive

do

or art

art criticism

up which are not determined by a

lexical, syntactical,

have

it's

still

does, and the internal

larger, dialectical

this in relationship to

reading art criticism of the past, where

lies in

the individual terms rather than in

do tend very often to think of a

133

how one

culture's

on

reflection

art as

being registered

first in

fairly athletic relationship to the quality

old dialectical sense

say,

Renaissance

would

lie first

for

of which

art criticism,

a collective thing, a

commonplaces,

So

that if

done a certain amount,

one

my

is

in the

teaching,

emphasis

think that's

where

see

it

most usefully observed.

think there's probably a danger in reflecting too

becomes incompetent.

number of people

getting together, and

it is

covert; that

is

who

"conspiracy."

on talking about the objects

insists

it's

how

think in this essay you talk about the art historian as the person who's

the tour bus

well, but

I've

in

suppose the two things about a conspiracy are that

would justify the use of the word


I

and then

one's doing in that way; one just freezes and

But returning to conspiracy:

SMITH:

art,

often have a

on the terms and the twenty or so standard propositional forms rather

what one does oneself now,

much on what

of the

a set of argumentative propositions.

than on big matters of argument.

As

many of which

the terms,

suppose presumably the

art critic

that

on

everyone can see perfectly

allows people to actually see things they

didn't see.

BAXANDALL: One hopes


might be easier to do
people

like

it

by pointing;

one does, but

art criticism

by dancing or something, and

Picasso with copying,

criticism or art history

that's all

so,

is

think.

is

somehow

certainly better

done by

But, for me, the basic activity of art

to enable people to see

that

it's

takes place in language.

works of art

better.

a core direction of what one

is

134

don't

mean

doing.

It

should say that that paper

wrote for

paper, partly for external reasons, and

SMITH: You were

asked to write

New Literary History


it

was

it,

and

about

took the form of people

art history

found rather
time.

It

was just
nice, but

SMITH:

irritating.

may even be
their

It

to write

was

rather resented, probably rightly.

a peculiar

it

was a time when a

telling

moment; everybody was doing

that they weren't really intending to

Well, certainly

some

Yes, and that

is

one

in art history.

of argument which

level

but one doesn't argue that out of the needs of the

social or cultural needs.

is,

think the

and about what one

have always

don't

it

people, such as Kurt Forster, had a very aggressive

can argue about what the culture needs

that at that

people what to do,

tell

anyway

justifiable,

but

of the discourse

form of saying what they thought they were doing, or what would be

BAXANDALL:

criticism

lot

people what to do, and this really

and affirmative vision of what needed to be done

of the

a very bad-tempered

it.

BAXANDALL:

was asked

is

mean

felt

is

two have

at the

doing,

if

one

is

room

one argues

for a multiplicity

that out

You
art

of art

histories.

There are many ways of

made out

don't think at any time there

135

perfectly

doing a certain sort of art history,

addressing objects; you can analyze the materials they are

is

moment, you can argue about what

very strongly that there's

that are useful.

art,

think

to be kept quite distinct.

this in the sense that all history is relative.

do other things

is

one

of,

and you can

sort

of art history

that should be done.

SMITH:

It

has struck me,

in

going back over primary sources, and

it's

been

reaffirmed in this interview series, that there seems to be periodic recognition and

agonizing over the

920s

perhaps

it

crisis

of art history within the

precedes then but

ten to fifteen years there

discipline,

going back to

look any earlier than that

didn't

at least the

so

that every

would be an outbreak of this kind of self-reflection or

self-flagellation.

BAXANDALL:
been a

lot

of that.

I'm not aware of that going back, but certainly in

think there are various reasons for that.

slightly provincial relationship

developed

my

One comes

Certainly in the last quarter century, art

history has stood in a very provincial relationship to literary criticism,

side

out of the

of art history to what one might almost say are more

fields, like literary criticism.

one side of it. Another

time there's

of it

since the middle of the century.

is

related to the peculiar

When one

think.

That's

development of art history

reads the older, pre- 193 9 literature, one

very aware of a number of local schools and strengths. In


got a marvelous connoisseur school, people

like

Italy, for

is

example, you've

Longhi, and a marvelous

archaeological school. In France you had a rather different but very

good

archaeological school of art history, and you had a superb tradition of art criticism

going back to the seventeenth century,


traditions, local antiquary traditions,

if

not before. In England there were art

and archaeologist

136

traditions,

and

in

critic

Germany one

had

this extraordinarily

superb tradition of art historians

training and a philosophical background.

coming together and an

international,

Now,

who had

after the war,

homogeneous

sort

developing, this led to the sort of problem which resulted

discussions.

both a philological

when

these

all

started

of art history started

think partly in these

I'm not saying they didn't exist, but I'm not hugely aware of pre- 193 9

arguments.

SMITH: Who asked you

BAXANDALL:
anniversary issue.

there in the

field,

was

It

to write that essay for

the editor,

looked back

who

at the

think

New Literary History?

was Ralph Cohen.

It

was an

various articles which had been published

reread them and reacted rather sort of bad-temperedly. But

it

was

an enjoyable essay to write.

SMITH:

In

Limewood Sculptors, your

focus

is

body of work rather than a

thematic, and you're using that body of work to talk about southern

end of the

fifteenth

and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries.

Germany

Of course

at the

this relates

to things that you've written about in other places, the question of art and society as

interpenetrating categories rather than exclusive categories.

you saw,
within

in writing that

German

was wondering how

book, a discussion of the sculptors contributing to debates

history at large about developments in that period.

eye open up issues

would be

in

German

Does

the period

history that other kinds of methodological approaches

blind to?

137

BAXANDALL:

felt

high Germany, south

matters.

in

one could see

did,

because

Germany

In other words,

terms of cultural

on things

it

it

pointed to the very distinctive character of

in this period,

than racial facts.

Reformation

itself.

It's

always

to stand for an awful lot in northern

What

also

came out very

clearly,

don't like things, not because they don't

them,

in the

seemed

It

to

me

difficult to

it

pattern,

and

than Kimstwollen

ofkonnen

think that

is

seemed

way

in a

also that

to me,

at this

was

skills

in

It

that

it's

intrigued

think

were

moment.
sometimes people
can't

to deal with them.

rather than wollen

the sculpture seems

want them, but because they

deeply true.

of this period which had been described

and

Europe generally

sense that they don't have the cultural

often says things are a matter

think back, but

establish this intricacy, the fact that there

many, many causes rather than some simple

me

this regional peculiarity

various mechanisms of polarity, of reaction, which had a bearing

one of my main urgencies was to

to

being a very intricate nexus of cultural

seemed to me possible to expound

facts, certainly, rather

in this

like the

it

handle

Gombrich

Kunstkonnen rather

me

to give an account

such national terms previously, picking up

the sorts of things which the nationalist critics had dealt with, but dealing with

a cultural historical way. After

Wolfflin's Italien

German with

all,

the sort of thing one

und das deutsche Formgefuhl,

Italian art.

the

was

book

in

them

batting against there

in

was

which he compares

There's a whole history, not only of the extreme nationalist

Pinder kinds of things, but other kinds too. So

138

it

was

the intricacy and the skill-based

character of taste which

writing a

book

like that,

to deal with, and

SMITH: No,
reading

it.

but

This

think

were the things

may

was going

at.

But when you're

you know, big purposes come and go. One's got

can't pretend that that

certainly important,

it's

local things

concern directs the whole book.

and that

is

something that does come out on

get back to larger questions of historical interpretation, whether

one's doing art history or not, but there

is

also the need to rely

on interpretations

in

other disciplines or subdisciplines as you reconstruct the history of markets, the


history of politics, and the provisionality of all these historical interpretations, so

provide a context for the work based on other people's work, which

may

BAXANDALL:

this sort

Inevitably one

is

Yes. This

could, but

should, partly because

it

the real problem with our trying to

using secondary stuff a great deal.

economic history as

SMITH: So

is

was

the

it

didn't really

would be a

life's

volume of the

read as

do

you

not stand.

much of the

of thing.

relevant

cover the religious history as

fully as

work.

writing, rather than necessarily the uncertainty

of the positions?

BAXANDALL:

Well,

had got trapped

doing the primary stuff myself, and


solution to this problem.

little bit

SMITH:

One

in

didn't

Giotto

and the Orators

want to do

this in this case.

going and

see no real

has to declare one's sources, trust one's nose, and be a

careful.

All historians rely

into

on secondary sources to a large degree.

139

BAXANDALL:

Yes, and to a certain extent one can go through the secondary

sources to certain key documents, but of course one

One can

secondary sources.

reread the documents.

led to those

is

documents by the

Nobody would

suggest, for

example, that [Andreas] Karlstadt's treatise on images wasn't a primary document.

No

one would suggest

document. But

it's

that the constitution

not always as easy as

SMITH: Throughout

the

book

I felt

of Nuremberg wasn't a sort of primary

that.

you made a successful attempt to nuance the

foundations of what you were doing, such as the warnings that you gave about the
nature of the market and

its

effects

on

art,

so that you were on the one hand prepared

to talk about the art market in a sort of commonsense way, and at the

were concerned

that

you and the reader

alike

same time you

be aware that the market

is

more than

simply a question of exchange of money for commodity.

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

it

seemed

to

me

interesting that

one could see people's

people's sense of themselves having a relationship to market forms.

identity,

Not, again,

in the

sense that they were simply constructed by the market, but that they could, within any

town, see a number of strategies out of which they could choose. This intrigued me,

seemed to argue against a

because

it

Nobody

there had to do this in the

they were making choices,

of determinism of a simple kind.

certain sort

way

they did

it,

in individual respects.

they really didn't. In most cases

In

all

cases, the total

choices became highly individual, or for the ones that interested

140

me

of their

this

was

so.

So

see the market chapter

again,

one

rationalizes in hindsight

as an argument against

simple economic determinism, but also trying to see highly specific forms of behavior

which have a relationship to an economic

SMITH:
art

was wondering how your

structure.

thinking about the market and

its

relationship to

developed between your work on that section of Limewood Sculptors and your

work on

the Picasso section of Patterns of Intention, and your conception of the troc.

BAXANDALL:

morphology one's

when

suppose there the section across


cutting through

one's not saying so, one

relation to the literature, and

again

think,

was

is

is

like Apollinaire,

what

whereas he seemed to

me

I felt

who

think the

the same. In any particular case, even

was

trying to

to establish, in a sense, the

success in a certain culture.

arguing against the literature, or placing oneself in

the possibility of good will in people

somebody

much

slightly different, but

is

is

who

this not

do

bona

in the

case of Picasso and troc,

fides, the

good

will,

or

at

any rate

follow a strategy dictated by their wanting

only in

someone

a figure of fun in

many

like Picasso, but in

histories

to play a powerful and benign role.

of art

Also,

criticism,

just find

it

rather boring to give accounts of artists' strategies under the heading of either

economic determinism or some course of sly


complicated than that
forces

come

in,

SMITH: Were

I feel,

but they

calculation.

People are much more

or certainly someone like Picasso

come

in in

is.

So these market

complicated ways.

there particular discussions or particular provocations that

141

were

leading you to question the conception of the market?

BAXANDALL:

The

first

Painting and Experience

seemed to me
situation

you have

this setup

didn't really like the first chapter

one

The next

thing.

of guilds and the

rest

couldn't have avoided

This seemed to

me

divines, these guild statutes

It's

Also, Italy

it,

marvelous

and the

even

stuff;

rest.

SMITH:
in that

much more

inferential,

It's

if

it

one had wanted

the

lovely material, and

cities

were

in the

you

to, I felt,

many

spelled out so

German

and

like

didn't

it.

Of

things one

liked using

don't get that sort

culture and society than

Germany,

if

of

in Italy.

only

bigger.

know Patterns of Intention began

book

in

what one has to do about these things

was a much more complex

because the

is,

it

very well documented, which

course, in Italy the guilds didn't play this sort of role, so

material.

thing

of

was needed, and

quickly because something

it

That's

There had been good collecting of the material done by people

Hans Huth; one


to.

had done

really a bit crass.

fascinated me.

want

provocation was that

as a series of lectures, but there

is

shift

sense that you're moving into conceptual topics rather than

object-focused topics.

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: But

it

Yes,

did try and frame

it

around four objects.

could have been almost any four objects. Not that

the argument deals with something where the given evidence

BAXANDALL:

No,

that

is so.

hope

that

book

142

is

it's

arbitrary, but

is

rather uncharacteristic, because

don't really like talking

prefer the

theory,

method much.

word method

it's

went to some pains not


rather careful to frame

And

that

was what

to

make

in the

it

don't enjoy reading art-historical method.

What

to theory.

method. At that stage

I felt

the

form

art historians

say about art history

inclined to think about

book one

that

of, If this is

was

telling

what

was

is

not

doing, and

people what to do. I'm

what you do, what are you doing?

So, in a sense, I'm asking myself what I'm doing.

interested me.

But there were various preoccupations; my old preoccupation with language was one.
In

what respects

is

what we

I've

way. But

at that stage,

was

work of art

and

think this

is

particularly worried about

like that in relationship to ideas.

John Locke,

that

various ways

different

from a bridge, or something of

been preoccupied with those questions for some time,

that sort.

to me,

call

was

for

me

So

it's

the section of the

how one

could talk about paintings and things

book

and the other chapters covered

desultory

book which meant most

the third chapter, the one

the center of the

in a

now think

things one had to

on Chardin and
it's

wrong

in

go through to do the

job.

SMITH: Why do you now

think that your argument about

Locke and Chardin was

wrong?

BAXANDALL:

think

had an over-simple and

notion of attention, which plays a


certainly wouldn't write

it

role.

like that

I've

in

done a

now.

143

some ways badly

lot

registered

of work on that

since,

and

SMITH: So you

don't feel

you adequately understood the eighteenth-century

conception of attention?

BAXANDALL:

No,

which

rubbish,

simply think

came

more general than

it's

a complex and difficult thing.

attention,

is

think

muffed

slightly

to the analysis of the picture.

SMITH:

framework

wonder

to

what degree

it; I

that

don't

think

mean

could have done

would do a

didn't

understand

think that chapter's

much

better

when

better job of that.

placed in a kind of noumenal sphere in the

art gets

that you're using, and therefore,

by refocusing attention on language, or

the systems of representation, to use a Jamesian term,

you then remove

art

from

language and history?

BAXANDALL:

No,

complicated access
reasons

why

seem

me

to

it

it

doesn't get

seems to me.

about

talk

removed from

don't see

it

history,

as

it

removed from

art criticism quite often rather

we

descriptions of the thing, and that implicit in any description,

my
in

is

a very elaborate system of evaluation.

addressing the themes of the

1982, and written

about value judgment

suppose

in art.

preoccupations of the canon.

It

moment

in

1981.

in

It

history.

than art history

very important to be clear about the fact that

seeks to be, there

simply becomes a more

is

One of the

that

does

it

own

are addressing our

however value

free

it

There was an element of

those lectures. They were lectures given

was

had come from

literary criticism, clearly

feel strongly that

144

moment when people were worried

one cannot exclude valuation from

one's thinking and talking about art and one had better accept that and be clear about

it.

SMITH:

Valuation understood

BAXANDALL:

It

sense of moral urgency?

in a

wasn't specifically that that

certainly agree with.

suppose

had

always

really I've

document,

that the better the art, the richer the

in

felt,

in

mind, though that

and

more

exclude

you'd be handicapping yourself unnecessarily.

it,

SMITH:

wonder
All

attention.

we

which unlike an
art

one has

in

meaning,

can do

is

art object,

exclude

can't

it;

if you

did try and

may

not even exist;

it

may be

a reification. At least with

theory an object there that one can address.

could say that what one has

object in a critical way,

Well, the

is

So you

discuss previous discussions of this category, attention,

or a material support for experience.

that there

I've said this off and on,

to what degree discussing art differs from discussing, say,

BAXANDALL: One

SMITH:

think.

would

a historical way. Well-organized

art carries

historical

this

BAXANDALL:

I feel.

One

category which

is

can't say

a material support for attention,

very

much about

the material

But I'm not quite sure I'm meeting your

way you answered

That

is

we

point.

tends to give a priority to attention as a real,

intuit, I

suppose.

very complicated, and that I've been working on for several

years.

SMITH: But when you

say, "I didn't quite

understand the concept of attention

145

enough," as opposed to saying

"I didn't

attention at the time," that presupposes there

which then allows us a

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

way

practical

way people were

understand the

is

the actual existence of attention,

to look at a painting.

would argue there

is

such a thing as attention,

of eye movement, which

that there's a physiological habit

discussing

is

in

the sense

related to various

processes of cognition. There's a set of rather obscure but very important processes

that

go on

after that in the course

experience, and beyond that, to

we

of putting together sensation into the world,

my

mind, there

have, what the French in the eighteenth century called inquietude, which has a

huge amount to do with why we look

So
it

a set of very powerful psychic needs

is

in that

sense

at pictures

would say there

is

we do

and the way

something

like attention,

very useful myself to work with the concept of attention anymore;

more

useful to

inquietude

work

because

in the

me

the trouble with attention, quite apart from

is

that the negative

the interesting thing

strange thing to do, humanly;

are

it's

It's

up to when we are looking

of attention

lies in all sorts

because the whole business of looking

music or watching a movie.

but

find

don't find

it

much

framework of structures of restlessness

or twelve quite distinct things,

whereas for

it.

at

is

it

meaning about ten

simply a negative,

of non-attentive conditions. Partly

a picture in a sustained

not like reading a book,

it's

way

is

a very, very

not like listening to

a very curious sort of reverie, almost, and

at a picture

seems to

146

me

what we

to be distorted if one uses the

notion of attention as one's prime concept for

attention to inquietude;

SMITH:

it's

So

it.

have moved away from

that inquietude that interests

In these categories, to

me now.

what degree are the manifestations

culturally

determined and to what degree are they physiological, and to that degree independent

of culture?

BAXANDALL: Do you
SMITH:

Well, no,

BAXANDALL:
three percent

SMITH: So

is

want a percentage?

shouldn't have phrased

it

that

way.

would say ninety-seven percent independent of culture, but the

fascinating to play with.

there

is

a relationship that people have with art you feel that

is

independent of the cultural moment?

BAXANDALL:

Yes, yes

do think

so.

don't think that looking at pictures

is

purely a cultural thing.

SMITH: When you gave me


there

some

that percentage

was

that off the top

of your head or was

basis for that?

BAXANDALL:

Right of the top of my head.

SMITH: Okay.

have a colleague

Behavioral Sciences

who

is

at the

It

was

rhetoric.

Center for Advanced Study

doing research

in

the

an area relating to childhood learning of

concepts, and he had a similar percentage for what he

147

in

felt

was

physiological.

[Tape VII, Side Two]

SMITH: While you

working on Patterns of Intention, you become a

are

What were

professor at the Warburg.

the circumstances leading

full

up to your achieving

that position?

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: Was

suppose

just

hung around and

the staff was being expanded?

BAXANDALL: No
SMITH: Did you

BAXANDALL:

replace

Yes,

SMITH: To what

somebody?

replaced Walker. Walker retired.

degree were you beginning to participate

in

fundamental decisions

about the direction of the Warburg?

BAXANDALL: A fair amount.


there

was

suppose

inconsistent.

Initially I

at a later stage

energies of the academic

would have stopped

I felt

didn't entirely get

suppose

was very strong on the teaching

that the teaching role

staff, at

my way.

was

in

all,

one-year courses and two-year courses.

role of the Institute.

It

wasn't that

the

Warburg run

but there were varying opinions about

don't

mean

there

were big rows, but

was roughly what my voice was.

SMITH: Was

course

danger of consuming the

the cost of certain other things.

teaching, not at

my

collectively, along the lines

department?

148

of a university

that

BAXANDALL:

Yes,

it

was

pretty collective, but

Gombrich was so much cleverer

the rest of us that he carried great weight, and

than

all

can't

remember votes being taken much, but with a

emerge from discussion and you


that

it

was about

SMITH: Were

this

we

respected him hugely.

small institution like this things

don't need to take a vote.

should perhaps mention

time that Gombrich retired and Joe Trapp became director.

there changes in the direction of the Institute at that time?

BAXANDALL:

Nothing dramatic, no.

SMITH: You had mentioned

earlier that the

on

traditions.

classical antiquities

and

its

Warburg became

Was

this

increasingly focused

something that was happening

during the Gombrich period, or largely afterwards?

BAXANDALL:
but

think

it

think

maybe

was working

continental

so

I'd

time

German

there,

SMITH: Did

earlier,

England.

When

engaged with were

it

say that that

was

in

was most noticeable during the Gombrich

out even

itself

with the study of the classics

of the people

it

classicists,

or Austrian classics;

was

and

it is

and
the

think

it's

Warburg came

more

literary,

a product of Anglicization. Certainly

I'd

suspect

that cause any

it

got something to do

and English classics

rather

was underway long

it

period,

to England,

is

not at

more

all

many

like

philological,

was underway

all

the

before.

problems for you, given that your interests seem to

lie

elsewhere?

BAXANDALL:

did feel a

little

out of place there.

149

had got out of classics years

before, in Cambridge, and

I felt

in a slightly false position.

myself as trying to do cultural history without

And

it

seemed to me

that

was what

would have dramatized

That's

classics.

what interested me.

the library intended to do, but of course

if

got a good section on Virgil there are many different things you could do with

SMITH: But Patterns of Intention


fundamental sense, but not

BAXANDALL:

No,

in

Germany

has

Fry,

you know.

me

as very

Warburgian

that the Institute

true.

is

in the

am aware

that

who

bearing.

do

it.

a sort of

had developed.

image of Aby Warburg,

in

see myself as Warburgian, but

become an important

rather differently from them, and

Roger

way

the

think that

myself as Warburgian quite

twenty years

in

strikes

you've

it

in

don't see

the last ten or

simply read Warburg

because I'm coming from

would dramatize myself as "Roger Fry

trying to

do a

Warburg."

SMITH: Was Patterns of Intention


the

in

any way a critique of what was developing

at

Warburg?

BAXANDALL:

No, because there was very

certainly didn't see

it

like that

and

SMITH: Okay. Of course by

little art

don't think

this time,

it

history at the

was taken

considering your

Warburg. No,

as that.

first

two books, one could

question whether you were an art historian or not, but with

Limewood Sculptors and

Patterns of Intention, you seem clearly to be occupying the

art historian's slot,

perhaps not

in the utterly

conventional sense, but nonetheless you were combining

150

connoisseurship with historical analysis and context.

BAXANDALL:

Yes.

think

was

trying to get at

thinking of myself as being outside of art history.

it

both ways;

in fact, I liked

liked thinking

of myself, and

occasionally talking of myself, as a student of rhetoric and dialectic

interest in art.

But

think that wasn't really serious, and in fact,

do was Warburgian

But

art history.

emotionally or practically or what

teach

art history until I

came

SMITH: What were you

BAXANDALL:
think one time

did find

advantageous

it

who had

what

to be a bit outside the system.

was

don't

hobby

trying to

know whether

really didn't

to Berkeley, ten years ago.

teaching at Cornell?

used to go there and do a few lectures on whatever

lectured on

German

art,

and

also

was

doing.

had done a course of lectures

at

the University of Southern California on the origins of art criticism in the

Renaissance, which I've never published, which

had

in the

bound

drawer, frankly, but

to be, because

But years before,


view to

my

was

suppose

it

was

really the art history

did at Cornell, too.

all

art history.

SMITH: When

was whatever

that

it

department which had got

going to the history department there, not the

that,

And

It

was

me

in.

had gone to Cornell to lecture to the history department with a

That must have been


reasons for

it

in the

middle seventies.

some of them
did

you

start

external

art history

decided not

to.

department.

There were various

the health of one of my children.

coming to the United States?

151

BAXANDALL:
was my

Then

first trip.

me

experiment for

came

to see if I

SMITH: Who brought you

BAXANDALL:
figure.

So

it

SMITH: And

He

didn't.

to teach a quarter,

like teaching in

and that was an

an American university.

over here, to Berkeley?

think the chairman at the time

It

was

L. D. Ettlinger, an old

was suggested then

that

should

Warburg

come

Again, there were external reasons.

The Cornell connection was Creighton

had

left

Cornell by the time

professor at large you drop

think

would

78

or 76, and that

then the Cornell connection?

BAXANDALL:
after that.

to Berkeley in

would have been him.

permanently, but

75

think that trip to Cornell must have been about

in

had made

Gilbert.

my

He went

first visit.

to Yale

When you

are

every couple of years, so you don't go that often.

only went twice altogether.

SMITH: Oh,

is

that all?

And you had no

BAXANDALL: One was there for two

regular teaching responsibilities there?

or three weeks, one gave

some

lectures and

seminars, one talked a lot to their graduate students, because their department wasn't

very big, but one had no normal teaching responsibilities, no.

SMITH: So you

talked to the graduate students, but of course

you had no

responsibility for anything they accomplished?

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: What

No,
led

it

really

was

a very occasional, visiting thing.

you to decide to take the position

152

at

Berkeley, in '85?

direct

BAXANDALL:

I'd

come

in '82 to

became Patterns of Intention, and

The

factors.

basis

Warburg

could

Warburg, and
retired.

come

make

don't

question, and

didn't

it

rather a

in the

Humanities, which

There were a whole

lot.

began to

change then,

want

to.

didn't

feel

it

would spend

my whole

lot

of

had been
to

at the

make

career at the

want to become director when Joe Trapp

they'd have

wanted me, but

certainly didn't

want

And

graceful.

mean,

was now or never

know whether

seem very

role, didn't

took to

Lectures

middle-aged restlessness.

and

Institute a long time,

change. If I didn't

Una

Berkeley had changed to a quarter system, which changed the

fact that

on which

give the

that.

All sorts

to

it

would have been a

bit in

hang around, not playing one's

of things came together

full

personal and

intellectual.

SMITH: And you must have had


connections with people

BAXANDALL:
people

in this

a long history of personal and intellectual

department, and perhaps other departments.

Yes, some people

got to

had known much further back.

department, since

no longer

here, but

suppose the early

from 78

knew people

was going

to

do

it,

in

78 when

was

here,

had known Svetlana Alpers,

sixties.

experience of American universities, but

east coast wasn't different

know

Ettlinger had retired

here quite well.

had had quite a

lot

and some

in this

by then, so he was

didn't

have a huge

of approaches.

I felt

enough from England to be an exciting prospect, and

one might as well go to

California.

153

if

the

one

SMITH: What

classes

do you teach here?

Do you

have both undergraduate and

graduate classes?

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

Both, yes.

presume, on some

BAXANDALL:
SMITH: Oh,

it

It is

is?

level, the

of my teaching of graduate students

the M.Phil, course, which

was

the big course element that

was, or

all

is in

thesis,

at

in

that different.

England was either

a straight M.Phil. course which has

M.A., and, much more important,

it

not

what ways?

BAXANDALL: Most

supervisor

is

very different from the English, yes.

In

Ph.D. meant writing a

graduate training

was

now become

in

an

supervising theses. In England there wasn't

a graduate degree here. In those days an English

and you saw your supervisor depending on what sort of

what stage your

thesis was,

anywhere from once a week to

every three months. So that was the center of my teaching there, apart from the
history undergraduates, and the rhetoric in the M.Phil, course.

seminars play

much more of a

role.

Everything

is

much more

Here

at

Berkeley, the

structured, and

think

on the whole people writing theses reckon on getting more guidance than they do
England. In England you

may

get a lot of guidance from your supervisor in the form

of criticism of what you've done, but the supervisor doesn't


there's a bit

in

really tell

more suggestion here about what students should

read, and so on.

154

do,

you what to do;

what they should

SMITH: What

about with the undergraduate classes? Have you had to teach any of

the survey courses?

BAXANDALL:

made

undergraduate seminars. Before that


circumstances, which

was an upper

SMITH: So

whereby

a deal a few years back

was

did a course

on

would teach only

Italian

Renaissance

in

art

and

a survey course of a sort, but not a lower division one;

division course.

It

was

good

course,

it

went

its

it

well.

you've been able to keep focused on relatively narrow areas in terms of

your course offerings?

BAXANDALL:

In terms of my course offerings, yes, though we're not a big

department, and one has to sort of pitch

in

and do what

necessary.

is

have moved

here mainly between the Renaissance and the eighteenth century, and on the whole

what

choose for a seminar subject depends a

happened the semester before. So I'm not

SMITH: To what

degree

is

Are there study groups

BAXANDALL:

No, there

think

think

many of us

it's

fair to

aren't really.

say that

on who

else

is

here, what's

entirely a free agent.

there a departmental

intellectual life?

other, but

bit

that

you

common

interest,

participate in?

We get on perfectly well

many people

or a shared

here are loners.

am

here are not great group-activity people, which suits

SMITH: Have you had much

BAXANDALL: When I

we

and

talk to each

myself, and

me

fine.

came

involvement with the Representations group?


in '82 to

give the

155

Una

Lectures, the Patterns of

Intention,

sort

was summoned,

of justify myself.

group,

fruitful

individually, but with the

there people in other departments with

group as a

whom

you have

particularly

exchanges here?

BAXANDALL:
department,

dissimilar

I'd

who

enough

is

mention particularly

for

think Randolph Starn, in the history

whom

can argue. We're similar and

interest in cognitive science,

wonder

now

SMITH: Given your


in

know many of them

group to

only contact I've had.

that's the

SMITH: Are

as people sometimes are, to the Representations

it

an old friend, with

to be profitable.

the psychology department

or

if you

have connections

are there other departments or research institutes

that are doing relevant research?

BAXANDALL:

There are indeed. One of the things which hasn't been

contact between either oneself or the

art history

ideal is

department and a number of other

departments where there are things going on, such as environmental design, where
there are people

there

is

who

are interested in the visual, or the psychology department.

a vision department, on the physiological level, and

contact with these people. Irvin Rock,

colleague, [Stephen E.] Palmer; they

have to say that


they're doing;

who

died last year,

were both

haven't been as active there as

keep an eye on them and

try

156

in the

haven't had

met and

Also,

much

liked,

and

his

psychology department. But

should have been.

know what

and persuade students to go and take

the introductory course in cognition

SMITH: Are

not with much

there others in this department

who

success.

share your interest in cognitive

science?

BAXANDALL:

No,

don't think so, but they are prepared to listen to

me

talk

about

it.

SMITH:

Actually,

it's

a long-term interest of yours, and

of Shadows and Enlightenment.

it

becomes such a major

part

wondered how you prepared yourself to handle

topics which are both arcane and probably highly disputatious within the various fields

of cognitive and psychological science?

BAXANDALL:

Again,

it's

partly this question

reference to a field one's not a master

one
to

is

clear about the limitations of what

make

doing.

SMITH:

I'm not sure one can reputably

one

is

One

it

at

all,

do

it

unless

doing, because one's certainly going

mistakes, and one's certainly going to pick sometimes the

one's going to do

is

of.

of how one can respectably work with

wrong work. So

if

one simply has to be clear about the limitations of what one

could argue that somebody's got to take the odium for trying to do

it.

There's an interesting cross section here, because you could simply do

eighteenth-century intellectual history and ideas of cognitive process and vision at the

time, and that

would be a neatly-bounded

project,

though not small by any means, and

without making any comments about the ultimate nature of vision and cognition or
perception,

you could then show how

certain sets

157

of ideas affected

artistic practice,

but you go beyond

BAXANDALL:

that.

Certainly one could do that, but

can one think about


about

how

it is

to be, you're

the

two

eighteenth-century folk

really likely to be?

bound

And

if you're

my

do

saw

be authentic?

this

come

done

at the

together.

how

moment.

to their angle

suppose what

I've

try rather hard in

on

done

things,

is

which

try to

keep

is

suppose

have found

bit

really likely

it's

In a way,

how

mean,

without thinking a

distance from the cognitive studies people, because

become committed
art critic's.

it

thinking about

to get involved in what's being

things which you've just brought up

better to keep

status.

how the

would

don't

it

want to

obviously very different from an

my

independence and

Shadows and Enlightenment not

my

amateur

to pretend that I'm a

pro.

SMITH:

Right. For instance, in

Limewood Sculptors, when

you're discussing

Paracelsus, or the Paracelsian conceptions, you don't have to assume that there

reality.

We don't have to go back into the

BAXANDALL:

No,

that

is

at a picture is a bit different

been unfinished business

left

certainly so.

from

that.

is

"value of the four humors."

But

think the question of how one looks

In a way, an awful lot of what I've

over from the second chapter of Painting

done has

and

Experience, the "Period Eye" one, which, with extraordinary inelegance, assumes

that

and the other, one assumption being there are certain mechanisms by which a

culture can affect the

way we

see, to a degree.

158

think

my

interests

now

are

still

this,

focused on trying to get that sort of notion

about

it

one of the things

still

the elegant thing to do in

many ways,

preoccupation, wouldn't one, with

SMITH: How

did the interest in

BAXANDALL:
me

to interest

attend to

it

in a

whole

on eighteenth-century

shadow

about shadows

stuff.

a culture

don't think

That would be

but one would be suppressing one's

how on

shadows

earth

one behaves when one's doing

as a topic

lot

it's

this?

emerge?

it

came

of ways as a case of something which changes when you

and becomes a different sort of thing. So

at the pictures,

attends to

So

in

talk

That's a byproduct of all this inquietude and attention stuff;

attention problem, and

looking

when one looks

that especially preoccupies me.

satisfying to concentrate purely

it

Whether one's going to

terms of attention or whatever, what happens

in

at a picture is

I'd find

straight.

interesting in

all

sorts

it's

of ways

a special case of the

in art,

not only in our

but the whole question of what happens

either in a preliminary training, learning

in his pictures.

So

it

just

came up

when

way, or

the painter

how

he thinks

course of working on

in the

attention.

SMITH: You've
interests.

Have you focused

BAXANDALL:

Well, yes.

Inquietude, which

levels

work

indicated that your current

is

in

some ways continues these

the topic yet?

The

provisional

bit chichi, but,

title

you know,

for the

that

is

book

is

Three Levels of

the working

title.

The

three

of inquietude are eye movements, cognitive movements, and the restlessness

159

which
stuff,

say,

And

art serves.

and

it's

in this

taken

more on

case trying to do

me

when

Initially,

again I'm playing with eighteenth-century stuff and

quite a long time to

interested

me was

moved on

to restlessness and inquietude.

SMITH:

century

in

is

attention,

inquietude

is

There's a marvelous body of writing about

book by

of accounts of how

both good and bad;

Dubos, writing

it is.

But, as

man

attention and out of it.

it

art functions to help

like that.

and ennui

is

it

called Jean

in

called

La

was a preoccupation.

with inquietude, and

But for somebody

simply restlessness.

the eighteenth

Deprun

really

in the early eighteenth century, the function

in relation to ennui,

began to think that what

Philosophic de I 'inquietude en France au XVIII siecle,

lot

what

an interesting concept.

France. There's a nice

There are a

that's

inattention or disattention, but that wasn't right either, so then

Inquietude

BAXANDALL:

So

work my way through

became uncertain about

pictures.

modern

It's

like [Jean-Baptiste]

of art

is

to be therapeutic

not boredom,

it's

restlessness.

SMITH: Does

that

BAXANDALL:

usage of ennui continue into the nineteenth century?

think

it

becomes weaker and becomes more

meaning. Even when Dubos was using


sense of it that one suspects that a

weaker

lot

it

in this sense,

like the

modern

he was so careful to define

of people even then would have taken

sense.

160

it

in

his

SMITH:

In the article, "Art, Society, and the

Bouguer

Principle," [Representations,

12 (Fall 1985): 32-43] you mention that you got a lot of what seemed to be negative

response to your paper.

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:
the

Yes,

I did.

wonder about the nature of that response, and how

way you

BAXANDALL:
consciously.

Shadows and Enlightenment,

crafted

against a social history of art of the kind

that at

all.

I still feel

Shadows and Enlightenment

was from people who

which

feel

felt

myself had done

that

of being clear about what one's doing. The

complexities in what one's doing

earlier.

is

no reason not to do

it,

did then.

It's

was
I

turning

don't feel

SMITH: Do you have

an interest

in

New Historicism,

simply, again,

fact that there are

but

it

was taken by many

people as saying, "Stop the social history of art!" Which wasn't what

that

quite as urgent about circumstantial history of art, or

circumstantial art criticism, or inferential art criticism, as

a matter

may have shaped

if at all?

I'm not aware of it having affected

think the negative reaction

that

meant.

since you're often linked with

group?

BAXANDALL:
suppose, no.

different.

how one

like

don't

Steve [Stephen Jay] Greenblatt's work very much, but

want to do

that sort

of thing myself, because the aim

In both cases one's using art and circumstances, but

uses them

is

rather different from

what

161

think

my

is

somehow

interest in

understand to be their interest

in

it.

I'm interested in using art as a historical document and using knowledge of historical

circumstances to improve one's reading of the

But

together.

what one does

don't feel that

myself as trying to find out what

SMITH: And

two

No,

it is

Insofar as

it's

in the

which are related to

my

loyalties

myself as involved

SMITH:

Is

go

think of

may have happened.

that.

don't think

it's

in style at a

art history?

been productive.

given moment, that

think there are awful theoretical problems about the relation

between the semiotic on the one hand and the hermeneutic on the
suppose

to

see what you are doing in relationship to, say, [Mieke] Bal's

enabled people to analyze differences

me

form of a search for what happened, and

don't like semiotic art history.

really existed before.

to

purely, historically relative.

and [Norman] Bryson's attempts to introduce semiotic theory into

BAXANDALL:

seem

accepting that one's not going to find out what really

certain criteria of validity

SMITH: How do you

things

happened.

really

happened, but setting up the enterprise

up

is

these

not simply making an interpretation of what

BAXANDALL:

setting

art;

would be

other,

to hermeneutic rather than to semiotic.

and

No,

don't see

in the semiotic ambition.

your response

in part

because of your conviction about the physiological

aspect of cognition?

BAXANDALL:
history, as

it's

Well, this

is

one of the problems.

done programmatically,

is

It

seems to me, semiotic

contaminated almost hopelessly by

162

art

its

origins

in

another sensory modality. Vision really

SMITH: Where might


way of looping

it,

but

psychoanalytic theory

think there

read quite a

bit

and projection of feeling into


lot

of things.

don't

know

if

fit

into

what you're doing?

Is there

would

we

like

is.

don't intend in this

around. Obviously,

if

book

to do anything formal

one's interested in restlessness

and a whole

pictures, one's got to think about cathexis

what

do to be a

little bit

talked about this before, but

do

informed about what

feel that art criticism

is

see art criticism as usefully specifying that stage of experience.

usefully specifying are the constraints

painting and talking about

differently plotted

by

its

on projection and the

meaning, the

last

feelings of a picture are.

One

sets

which

spells

up the frame

for

own

around

telling other

people

SMITH: Or whether

BAXANDALL:

how

It

don't

do see

it

as

is

liable to

be

experience and

out directly what the narrative

it;

that

theoretical point, but simply as a practical matter of what

enough, and partly as a matter of good manners.

is

how

see

one can do

seems to

me

it.

Not

as a

well, or well

really offensive to

they should emote in relationship to a picture.

they should feel guilty or not.

Feel guilty? Yes, well, that

163

isn't

If one's taking a

stimuli.

stage of its meaning

different people according to their

don't like art criticism

What

there.

should switch

off before the final stage of identifying the cathexes one's invited to project.

urgencies, and

any

psychoanalysis and cognitive science?

BAXANDALL:
about

different.

is

quite the

same

as

was

thinking

go

about.

would say

that that

as a sort of citizen.

BAXANDALL:

tends to be

one

No,

somebody

like

haven't really.

me

much more

really calls that

hat and speaking

earlier.

continued reading

people haven't given

critic's

think one should distinguish between these; that goes back to

something we've talked about

SMITH: Have you

a matter of taking off one's art

is

any hot

tips

the cognitive,

in

It

anthropological linguistics?

hasn't

been what

on what to

MIT,

read.

[Jerry

end of the cognitive sciences.

I've

What

A] Fodor
It's

been working on, and

do read about language

end.

know what

don't

not philosophy of mind quite,

Fodor.

[Tape VIII, Side One]

SMITH: [George] Lakoff

frequently verges into questions of aesthetics.

Do

you

know him?

BAXANDALL:
thing;

up

to.

No. You know,

one does read outside

am

slightly a butterfly,

moving from thing

art history, at least partly in relationship to

There's always something one's having to inform oneself about.

admit that

SMITH:

have tended to drop some things which

We talked about Michael Podro before,

might give you, but

work. In

particular, I

intellectual roots

was

to

the job one's

I'd

have to

interested in earlier.

and the kind of response that he

wonder what kind of response might you have given him

was wondering how you responded

to his analysis

of the

of art history and the kind of problematic that he painted?

164

to his

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

In The Critical Historians

of Artl

Yes.

BAXANDALL:

we

think

He

read each other's things in different ways.

is

marvelous reader, and he points out when I'm making a fool of myself, you know,

when my argument
the

dog

that he can try

problems.

fall I

isn't

working.

it

on, with a

can't think straight,

was reading

don't play that role with him.

view to comprehension.

and he sometimes

the manuscript of a

prope~ role was there, and

did very

is difficult

book of his, and

much

see

it

difficult for the

average citizen to understand. So

in his thinking,

but he has played a constructive role in

I'm not being faux modest; this

When

I'm writing, there are

them. Leavis

SMITH: How
about?

another,

is

did the

What was

someone

simply the case.

two or

have different

to understand.

did think about

In the

what

when

it

my

was

have played no constructive role

So

my thinking.
it's

think that's

asymmetrical

in that

three readers over one's shoulder, and he

fair.

way.

is

one of

still.

book

that

you did with Svetlana Alpers on Tiepolo come

the division of labor, and what

is it

like to write

book with

else?

BAXANDALL:
things,

is

We both

terms of saying

in

am much more

and

it

Neither of us

is

ever going to attempt

took much longer than

independently.

We are both agreed

it

on

it

would have taken


this.

165

again.

if either

We were doing other


of us had done

We couldn't write together.

it

Originally

the

book wasn't going

to be a book;

was going

it

to be an article,

and

it

grew.

Svetlana had written an article jointly with her former husband, Paul Alpers.

never written anything with anybody and had no notion of what

that

we

agreed about what

we wrote

we wanted

to say, but as

it

was

had

We found

like.

soon as either of us

sat

down

to

ourselves right apart from each other.

It

was a process of writing

and the thinking one does when one's writing, because a

lot

of thinking doesn't come

write

it,

We wrote so differently and had

until one's writing.

also

from

different cultures.

a very

It's

something

odd

like that,

thing,

even

So, in the end

we

such different minds, and we're

divided

it

up.

because when you've worked for a long time over

if you

disagree violently with what the other one writes, due

to the history of the thing, you're both deeply responsible for

don't

know

if you've

ever written things with people, but

because one realizes

how

had thought one was

like

SMITH: To what

down and

it

everybody

degree do you

is

a very

being

said.

odd experience,

from other people, whereas previously one

else.

know what

you're going to write before

used to plan much more than

do now.

a slight constraint to have every paragraph planned.

paragraph by paragraph. That

you

one

is

you

sit

begin?

BAXANDALL:
find

different

it is

what

don't have a plan,

don't

When
I

I'm writing

used to do

166

that,

do anymore. The other side of that

you can quickly write yourself into a jam, but for

now

all

is

that if

sorts

of

reasons

One of the

don't plan much.

of the thing one's mentioning

scale

And

sentences or five pages.

reasons

is

in one's plan;

if you

one

that

can't, in

something

may

turn out to be three

have a plan, you're committed to each of these

things being roughly equal in weight, which doesn't work. Also,

bored with writing


before writing

planned a

if I've

now

than

used to

the plan, judge the

lot.

It's

not only planning, but

thinking

in the

do

find

do

get

more

less thinking

sense of working out the

argument.

SMITH: At what
start

There are

because

it's

different levels

book and then

write a third of a

level

do you discover the argument?

something that you

Is that

with?

BAXANDALL:
is, I

point

not working out

in

SMITH:

I've

On

the whole,

what happens

have to stop and think and rearrange and replan

some way, whether on

of balance. More and more,

than tight arguments.

of argument.

like loose-textured

the level of argument or

arguments

on the

in this field rather

don't feel urgent about tight construction.

run across several articles

in the last

couple of years that are discussing

the relative merit of focusing an art history article on one painting or object versus a

large

number of objects,

a synoptic view,

suppose, of a period or an

artist.

Do you

have any feelings about that?

BAXANDALL:
much

Yes,

do have

feelings about that.

prefer focusing on one object.

The second

167

The

thing

I'd

first

say

thing

is

I'd

say

that a lot

is

that

of things

one

can't

do

picture one

that

way, for various reasons,

trying to say something.

is

or three pictures, but

back

now

in,

and other things

picture.

Of course many

in

my

case mainly because

it's

intended to do the inquietude

not about a

book on two

those two or three pictures are going to keep on coming

be coming

will

people

All

in too.

my

instincts are to address

feel that this is destructive

one

of the picture, and they

don't like that.

SMITH:

Is there a

BAXANDALL:
now

is

never been,

I've

really,

think

No.

never really have done

work

no, I'm not doing that at

SMITH: When you

first

in

and the

Giotto

I'm doing

came here you were going

difficult to leave the

BAXANDALL:
reasons.

I've

Yes.

Orators,

it

got dragged

when

had

And

into.

was manuscript work.

it

So,

all.

understand; you were going to spend the

it

What

except once or twice

that,

mentioned that Fugger account book which

wasn't really archival

Was

an archival historian.

you're not looking at letters?

BAXANDALL:
I

No,

a matter of reading printed books.

SMITH: So

to.

long process of doing archival research ahead of you?

the

Warburg and

the spring here.

Warburg, to sever relations altogether?

I still

dream about the Warburg occasionally,

got friends there, and

shaped by the shape of that

fall at

to split your year, as

library.

was

there twenty-five years.

Yes. Also,

168

for

all

sorts

My mind

of

has been

have old allegiances, particularly to

Gertrud Bing.

feel

feel that she'd

an element of guilt.

It

have preferred

may be

I'd

absurd, but

She died long ago, but

stayed there.

do

feel

an element of guilt towards

Gertrud Bing.

When
term, which

director.

I first

is

But

here,

gave

it

up

have been traveling

BAXANDALL:

find

No,

and certainly not

history

from

Europe

in

it,

but

find.

This

go back and

was

two

quite apart

books

in

still

to clear out

would have

preferred,

time rather than teaching classes.

manage your

not

Trapp was

good moment

finding that

life

be recommended.

it's

is

did that while Joe

fall

is

with two homes?

One

is

told

one

is

lucky,

nowhere: I'm not quite kosher

halves;

from

it

London and

it's

two

thirds.

It

being exhausting

so on.

On

doesn't

and

the other hand,

forth.

did mention that the

paintings.

was

a sense one

in

London. So

director

at that

co

it's

teaching, with one's

stimulating, to

SMITH: You

in

Also,

then.

don't think

up to a whole,

awkward when
it is

new

relatively easy to

it

and there are good aspects to

quite add

did the spring semester here and taught in the

thought the coming of a

SMITH: Do you

here,

a quarter system term, in London.

and make room, so


really, to

came

What about

Bay Area

is

not a great place for teaching art

the library resources here?

Are they

sufficient for

your purposes?

BAXANDALL:

think the university

is in

specifically the art history library, to a point

danger of running

where

169

it is

down

going to be

the library, and

difficult to

work

here.

This has happened during recent financial troubles.

a library can drop out of the

getting

first

It's

surprising

how

quickly

rank: through not taking periodicals, through not

books which go out of print;

can happen very quickly. If they're not careful

it

(I'm sending a message) they're going to ruin not only the library but this department

and some others, because people


should be good. Bancroft

is

aren't

a great library;

okay, but things are really parlous

SMITH: Have you been


plague

all

at the

it's

got marvelous things.

moment,

affected by the ongoing

state universities in the

BAXANDALL:

going to come here. The book situation

Cahill,

economic and

it's

been quite acute here. At

something

like

how many we

in

strength

we

are at the

the last few years has been very

and for the students. The university cut

seventeen hundred to thirteen hundred

particularly difficult because of the

demography of the

in

bracket, and there haven't been that

many

massive cohort of forty to

fifty-five

year olds growing

There's a gap, so

bad

really

in that

a year.

its

faculty

from

think this

university, the

members. Obviously there are a large number of people

it's

full

Three early retirements happened: Svetlana Alpers, James

and Jacques de Caso. This sudden cutting

difficult for the faculty

political troubles that

United States?

Well, as you know,

eight or nine.

should be

really bad.

have been a department of fourteen, and I'm not sure

moment

It

is

age of faculty

in the forty to fifty-five

age

recruitments of young people. There's this

way.

170

away from

the students.

SMITH: You mentioned

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

Will

you be coming back


No,

done enough.

SMITH:
What

is

This

you were going

is

to be retiring soon.

I'm retiring at the end of the semester.

BAXANDALL:
I've

that

will not.

I'd like

to teach

I've

on a

recall basis?

done an awful

lot

of teaching

in

my

time,

think

to write and work.

a sort of technical question, but

the process by which you

what's being provided by the

sift

it's

important for

Do

through your illustrations?

museums and

the owners

is

art historians.

you

find that

adequate, or do you often

need to reshoot?

BAXANDALL:

It

varies hugely.

very bad. Private owners are


reproduction fees

stuff is not as bad,

because one

if

Some museums

difficult;

are really very good, and

on the whole. Quite

good enough

are

there are terrible problems in license fees or

one's dealing with twentieth-century stuff.

can't get a

some

often,

one chooses not to

illustration to talk about.

illustration is problematic, I think, partly

Dealing with earlier

illustrate

something

The whole matter of

because of the relationship between words

and pictures. The whole business of describing a picture has changed

hundred years because one has access to some

sort

in the last

of reproduction when one's

reading the description.

I'm very torn.

On

the one hand one

would always

like to

reproduction, and on the other hand, clearly, that's deceptive, so

171

have a nice color

it's

difficult to

know

what

ceiling

was

we

In the case of the Tiepolo book,

to do.

and wall paintings, were photographed

totally false, so that

was

a case in which

we

photographs, and they were very helpful about

much

in

found that a
very bright,

of Tiepolos, being

artificial light,

which

did ask the publisher to take

new

The new photographs were

this.

less pretty than the artificial light ones, but

lot

we

considered them

much more

true.

think there's a general problem of that sort, in that an awful lot of the

photographs one has to use to


angle.

It is

illustrate things in

astonishing, for example, that

photograph of a Renaissance sculpture


spend a
the

lot

wrong

you very often

in a

angle.

can't get a

decent

niche taken from ground level.

have a horror of sculpture photographs.

Limewood Sculptors,

developed very strong feelings about


totally false,

and

yet, clearly,

And you

it

lighting.

The

it

They

really

lighting

spent about a year

was an agony, and

was too

looks more striking on a dust jacket

flashy,

or

it

was

in the

book,

could say that that sort of highlighting might attract more people

to look into the objects, but the fact remains that

it's

totally

most countries, one or two good sculpture photographers.


there

false in lighting or in

of money putting up scaffolding to take photographs of the object from

collecting photographs for the

very often.

books are

was Helga Schmidt-Glassner, who was even then

subtle, non-flashy photographer.

wrong. There
In southern

old, but she

are, in

Germany

was

a superb,

They can produce things which are as immediately

172

But

attractive as the flashy ones, but are not false.

photographer.

SMITH: But

think sculpture

with Shadows

is

much more

that takes an extraordinarily

difficult to

and Enlightenment,

not have been worried about,

photograph than paintings.

you have

for example,

reasons for wanting to focus on the shadows which the

particular

museum photographer may

may have downplayed. When you

or, in fact,

good

are

constructing that kind of argument, then you are directing the eye in a different way.

Was

that a

problem

BAXANDALL:
use.

it

was

came

at all?

think

it

was

a problem at the stage of deciding

which objects to

think once one had decided that, actually getting the transparency, or whatever

which Yale
in

did for

wasn't

me

were disappointing. But

some of the

so terrible, though

in that

book

things that

wasn't in fact going for things with

was concerned

very conspicuous shadows, except for one or two drawings, because

with the normal shadow, not the showy shadow. But

agony of art

criticism, getting together the illustrations for a

it is

the special

book, or getting together slides for a

lecture.

SMITH: Do you
students, or

see your readership as a general audience, or other academics, or

some combination of those?

BAXANDALL:

suppose

it

differs a little bit for different

books.

whether anybody would want to read the shadows book, and


people do, though

got a

letter last

week from

173

was very unclear

don't think

many

Frenchman who works on the nature

of holes, and he
that

was

the

know

who work

such people

accessible to them.

shoulder

worked

person

first

am

absolutely sure has read the

a self-indulgent book. But, on the whole,

there are people

sort.

is

Also,

in

and

same

general way, no.

field.

Not

But

And one

is

that.

been to two.

people for a job.

quite like

little

knows who have

don't think of myself as writing for art historians in a

BAXANDALL:

paper, and

for the readers over one's

writing for people one

to College Art Association meetings?

Bouguer

read books of this

would think of myself as writing to be

SMITH: Do you go
I've

who

would think of myself as writing

the Podros and so on.

in the

have a romantic sense that

banks, and that sort of thing,

exist,

I still

whole book. So

went

this

went to one years ago, when

year for the second time, but

wouldn't have gone otherwise.

gave that

had to go to interview

don't enjoy big conferences.

conferences on specific themes, but big professional conferences

don't care for.

SMITH:

think

have come to the end of my questions.

something further you want to add.

BAXANDALL:
SMITH:

No,

don't think so.

Well, in that case then, we've

come

174

to an end.

wonder

if you

might have

51

INDEX

Alberti,

Leon

Battista,

Bryson, Norman, 162

76

Alpers, Paul, 166

Buchthal, Hugo, 52, 54, 88

Alpers, Svetlana, 153, 165-166, 170

Buddensieg, Tilman, 96

Althusser, Louis,

Burckhardt, Jacob, 74

1 1

Anderson, Perry, 36, 87

Burke, Peter,

Antal, Frederick, 99

Burroughs, Charles, 118

Apollinaire, Guillaume, 141

Buschor, Ernst, 47-48

1 1

Argan, Carlo, 109


Arrighi, Gino, 103

Arslan, Edoardo,

Cahill,

39-40

James, 170

Calandri, Filippo, 103

Art History, 120

Cardew, Michael, 2

Arts Society, 24

Caretti, Lanfranco,

39

Auerbach, Erich, 51

Caso, Jacques de, 170

Austin, John Langshaw, 22

Cassirer, Ernst, 51,

Ayer, A.J., 77

Chambers, David, 88, 91


Chastel, Andre, 104-105

Bal, Mieke, 162

Chomsky, Noam, 82

Banham, Reyner, 108

WW.,

Barclay,

60

118-119

Clark, T.J., 106, 112,

Cohen, Ralph, 137

53

Bastiani, Lazzaro, 39, 43

Cornell University, 151-152

Baxandall, David K. (father), 1-2,

Courtauld

6-11,71, 126, 132


Baxandall, Sarah

I.

38-39, 68,

Institute,

105-106, 107

M. Thomas

Curtius, Ernst Robert, 5

(mother), 1,3-4, 132

Berenson, Bernard, 24

Derrida, Jacques, 80

Berkeley, George 23

Dodgson, Campbell,

Bilanovich, Giuseppe, 73

Dubos, Jean-Baptiste, 160

Bing, Gertrud, 43, 49, 54, 59, 69, 101,

Duprun, Jean, 160

1 1

Dvorak, Max, 100

169
Blake, William, 87
Blunt, Anthony, 25-26, 52, 68, 73,

Ehrenzweig, Anton, 66

104, 105

Elias, Norbert,

Empson, William, 33

Bolding, Kenneth, 83

Bouguer,

Bowra,

Pierre,

CM,

62-63

174

Ettlinger, L.D.,

52,69, 152, 153

12

Brockhaus, Otto Lehmann, 45

Fazio, Bartolomeo,

Brown, Roger, 77

Finley,

175

Moses, 92

76

Forster, Kurt, 135

Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld


Institutes, 91, 120

Foucault, Michel, 80, 81

Jung, Carl, 34, 35, 65

Fodor, Jerry A., 164

Frankfort, Enriqueta Harris, 88

Kant, Immanuel, 23, 130

Frankfort, Henri, 58

Freud, Sigmund, 33-34, 62, 65, 82


Fry, Roger, 2, 25,

12, 128, 131,

Karlstadt, Andreas, 140

150

Klein, Robert, 105

Frye, Northrop, 34

Kristeller,

Paul Oskar, 73, 103-104

Kubler, George, 83

Gage, John, 97

Kurz, Otto, 52, 54-55, 89, 91

Garin, Eugenio, 73
Gilbert, Creighton,

152

Lancilotti, Francesco,

Giotto

and the

98

Landino, Cristoforo, 98

Ginzburg, Carlo, 92, 109, 121

Lakoff, George, 164

Orators, 47, 75, 79,

93-94, 101, 103-105, 139, 168

Lee, Rensselaer, 104

Gombrich, E.H., 49-50, 52-53, 60,


61-67, 72, 75, 82, 83, 88-89, 93,

Levi-Strauss, Claude, 79, 118

Longhi, Roberto, 109, 136

94,99, 101-102., 110, 129-131,


MacKillop, Ian Duncan, 18

138, 149

Mann, Thomas, 33
Mason, Harold, 15,

Gombrich, Use, 61

Gordon, Donald James,

53, 58

Greco,

Juliette,

35

Greenblatt, Stephen Jay,

17,

18-19

Marxism, 85, 113, 122


Meier, Hans, 55

Gramsci, Antonio, 42, 85

Middeldorf, Ulrich, 99

Gunn, Thorn, 33

Mill,

John Stuart, 20, 23

Mitchell, Charles, 52, 88

Habermas,

Jiirgen, 80,

Molho, Anthony, 95

118

Momigliano Arnaldo, 92
Montagu, Jennifer, 88
Mynors, Roger A.B., 16

Hamilton, Richard, 127


Haskell, Francis, 25, 26

Hauser, Arnold, 99
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 23
Herskovits, Melville

J.,

New Literary History,

77

Heydenreich, Karl-Ludwig, 41, 48

120, 133, 135,

137

Hockney, David, 127


Hodgkinson, Terence, 69-70, 108

Nicoll, John, 102

Hume, David, 23

Nicolson, Benedict, 108

Huth, Hans, 142

Nietzsche, Friedrich, 23

Jaffe,

Nicholson, Ben, 128

Owst, Gerald Robert, 20

Michael, 25, 26

Jakobson, Roman, 81

176

Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-

Century

Italy, 91,

133, 142,

Schopenhauer, Arnold, 23
Sedlmayr, Hans, 41,48, 66

93-103, 111,

Shachar, Isaiah, 92-93

158-159

Shadows and Enlightenment,

Palmer, Stephen E., 156

157-158, 159, 161, 173

Panofsky, Erwin, 25, 51-52, 74

Shearman, John, 105

Patterns of Intention, 133, 141,


142-148, 150, 153, 156

Slade School of Fine Art, 61, 64, 69,

Peirce, Charles Sanders, 80

129

Pembroke, Simon, 92
Pevsner, Nikolaus, 25

Stalinism, 7

Picasso, Pablo, 141

Stokes, Adrian, 129-130, 131

Pinder, Wilhelm, 99, 114, 138

Stoss, Veit, 114, 115

Plato, 22, 130

Strauss, Ernst,

Podro, Michael, 65, 67, 75, 92, 102,

Summers, Roy, 26, 28

Starn,

Randolph, 156

48

106, 130, 164-165, 174

Pope-Hennessy, John, 69, 113

Tasso, Torquato, 39

Popper, Karl, 53, 60, 88

Tawney, R.H., 20, 35


Thompson, E.P., 35, 36, 87

Prince,

FT., 33

Tiepolo

Quine, W.V., 22, 77

and the

Pictorial Intelligence,

165-166, 172
Trapp, Joseph B., 89, 91, 101, 149,

Ransom, John Crowe, 34

153, 169

Raritan, 120

Trevelyan, George Macaulay, 20

Read, Richard, 129

Trexler, Richard

Religion, 4,

Ucko, Peter, 58, 67, 75, 79, 92


University of California (Berkeley), 84,
106, 122, 151, 153-158, 169-170

Representations, 155-156, 161

Riemenschneider, Tilman, 114

Ringbom,
Rock,

Sixten, 68, 93

Irvin,

C, 95

9-10

156

Ruskin, John, 112, 130

Venturi, Adolfo, 104


Venturi, Leonello, 104, 109

Sabra, A.I., 53, 88, 89

Victoria and Albert

Sapir,

47,

68-71, 110, 127

Sabbadini, Remigio, 73
Salvini,

Museum,

Roberto, 109-110

Edward, 77

Sauerlander, Willibald, 48,

Wackernagel, Martin, 99
1

14,

Walker,

15

DP,

52, 53, 88, 89, 121, 148

Saussure, Ferdinand de, 80-8

Wallis, Alfred, 128

Saxl, Fritz, 50, 52-53, 58, 59

Warburg, Aby, 59, 150

Schmidt-Glassner, Helga, 172-173


Schmitt, Charles, 88

177

Warburg

Institute

(London), 24, 38,

42-43, 50-60, 64, 67-68, 71-75,


81,83,88-93, 100, 105-106,
116-118, 121, 123-124,

148-150, 168-169

Warnke, Martin, 114-115


Weihrauch, Hans R., 47
West, Richard, 26-27
Whorf, Benjamin, 77, 78-79
Wilde, Johannes, 68
Williams,

Raymond,

35,

36

Wilson, Angus, 33
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 16, 20-21, 22,

79
Wittkower, Rudolf, 108
Wolfflin, Heinrich, 24, 43-44, 138

Wollheim, Richard, 109, 131

Wood, Christopher, 128


Word and Image, 120
World War

II,

5-8,28,31,37

Yates Frances, 52, 57-58, 89

178

in

Minat Terkait