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Iain Boyd Whyte, “Nikolaus Pevsner: art history, nation, and exile,” RIHA Journal

30 November 2013

RIHA Journal 0075 | 23 October 2013

Nikolaus Pevsner: art history, nation, and exile

Iain Boyd Whyte

Editing and peer review managed by:

Regina Wenninger, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich


Christian Fuhrmeister, Volker Welter


Shortly after losing his teaching position at Göttingen University in September 1933, Nikolaus Pevsner (1902-1983) travelled to England as a refugee from National Socialist Germany. Thanks to his prodigious energy and ambition, his career flourished, and at the time of his death in 1983 he had become a national institution and the preeminent expert on British architecture. The emotional and scholarly transition from Adolf Hitler’s Germany to 1930s England was by no means easy for Pevsner, however, and this article investigates Pevsner’s continuing debt at this time to German art history (Kunstgeschichte) in general, and to his doctoral supervisor, Wilhelm Pinder, in particular. The discussion, set within the broader context of émigré studies, addresses the contrasting practice of art history in the two countries at that time and the essential differences between conservatism, nationalism, and fascism.

Iain Boyd Whyte, “Nikolaus Pevsner: art history, nation, and exile,” RIHA Journal0075 (23 October 2013), URN: urn:nbn:de:101:1-20131113230, URL: (date of access: [30.11.2013).

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