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  • Ernst Kitzinger, “The Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies” — Dumbarton Oaks
    other metalwork ivories and textiles It also includes large and comprehensive holdings of Byzantine coins and seals ca 10 000 each The library has grown from a nucleus of about 14 000 volumes mostly on art and archaeology which had been assembled by Mr and Mrs Bliss to a present total of about 60 000 There has been particular emphasis on the acquisition of texts and of complete sets of periodicals Other research tools are a card index listing every title in the bibliographies of the Byzantinische Zeitschrift and of Krumbacher s Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur arranged by authors with a second copy gradually being developed into a comprehensive subject index a photographic copy of the Princeton Index of Christian Art a steadily expanding file of photographs of works of early Christian Byzantine and mediaeval art and architecture and distinct from this a Census of objects of early Christian and Byzantine art in the United States and Canada comprising photographs and descriptive data Within its special field the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Center offers to the student what are undoubtedly the most complete and comprehensive facilities in the world today The Center s primary function is research Though administratively part of Harvard it is separated from the mother institution by a physical distance of four hundred miles and cannot combine research with instruction in the normal manner of university institutes It was staffed with its own permanent faculty at present consisting of eight scholars who between them represent the fields of art and archaeology history literature and theology The group is supplemented each year by a small number of Visiting Scholars temporarily invited and by others who hold special appointments Dumbarton Oaks seeks to contribute to the raising of a new generation of Byzantinists through lending members of its faculty to

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/ernst-kitzinger-and-the-dumbarton-oaks-center-for-byzantine-studies (2016-02-18)
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  • Philip Johnson’s New Pavilion at Dumbarton Oaks — Dumbarton Oaks
    the Blisses realized that this should also include space for Robert Bliss s collection of Pre Columbian art then on display at the National Gallery of Art Philip Johnson 1906 2005 Somewhat surprisingly the modernist architect Philip Johnson was approached to design the addition which was to be located to the south of the Byzantine Collection on 32nd Street Johnson designed a pavilion consisting of eight domed glass cylinders and his design pleased the Blisses when he submitted it and a model in 1959 However they were hesitant to approve the design for its intended location which was to the side of the front yard of the Dumbarton Oaks mansion By 1960 a compromise solution was reached the Johnson pavilion reduced in scale would be built in a secluded area known as the Copse to the north of the Music Room It would house Robert Bliss s Pre Columbian art and library and there would be ample room in the basement for the Byzantine coins and seals as well as a much needed new photography lab Moreover the sleek modernity of the building s design and the innovative Plexiglas stands and cases that were eventually designed for the pavilion would show off the Pre Columbian objects as artworks To house Mildred Bliss s garden library a traditional red brick building matching in size the two existing Byzantine Collection pavilions would be designed by the Blisses friend Frederic Rhinelander King and be built where the Johnson pavilion had first been envisioned see post Philip Johnson model for the new museum addition at Dumbarton Oaks 1959 Helmut Jacoby for Philip Johnson Associates Architects Pre Columbian Pavilion Watercolor 1960 The Dumbarton Oaks Administrative Board and the Trustees for Harvard University were hesitant to approve the additions however They feared that the new buildings would divert resources from the established Byzantine Studies program They wanted strict assurances that the existing focus on Byzantine studies would not be diminished in any way In response to these fears the Blisses arranged to contribute additional funds to the endowment to cover the maintenance of the new Pre Columbian and garden library wings Nor was this the last hurdle to be cleared New construction in Georgetown needed the approval of the D C Commission of Fine Arts tasked with preserving the Old Georgetown atmosphere that characterized the Historic District At first the Commission seemed a possible threat to the erection of Johnson s modern structure Ultimately the Commission granted their permission to begin construction with the understanding that a brick wall and evergreen plantings would hide the pavilion from street view All of the obstacles now removed building finally commenced uninhibited Elizabeth P Benson and James Mayo first Pre Columbian Collection installation 1963 With a new home under construction for the Pre Columbian Collection the final step was to find the proper person to install and take care of it Elizabeth Betty Benson who had worked extensively with the Bliss collection at the National Gallery of Art was

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/philip-johnsons-new-pavilion-at-dumbarton-oaks (2016-02-18)
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  • The Garden Library Rare Book Collection and the Creation of a Studies Program — Dumbarton Oaks
    Blisses already in 1951 had established the Dumbarton Oaks Garden Endowment Fund Number I in the amount of 250 000 for the maintenance operation and development of the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks for the establishment of Visiting or Exchange Fellowships to or from this or other countries for the individual study of Garden Design and Ornament for the publication of monographs or books on such subjects as garden design and ornament and incidental decorative horticulture for the maintenance and enlargement of the Garden Research Library already established at Dumbarton Oaks for the support of the Garden Information Center and for other related educational purposes In making this gift however the Blisses were quick to point out to the President and Fellows of Harvard College both its restrictions and its overreaching purpose This fund is not be limited to the actual maintenance operation and development of the Gardens which are now supported from the income of the original Dumbarton Oaks Endowment Fund established by one of our letters to you dated July 2 1940 It is our hope and expectation that the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens may in time attain as high a standing in the study of and for its publications on Garden Design and Ornament as the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection has already attained for its scholarly work and research Thus will the unusual potentialities of its Gardens be fully realized In 1957 Ralph Griswold became the first Fellow appointed to the program that the Blisses had created and he was followed in the early 1960s by further appointments including those of David Chase Bodfan Gruffydd and Georgina Masson When Mildred Bliss died in 1969 the garden library rare book collection consisted of some 2 400 rare books 5 000 reference works and a significant number of prints and drawings The nascent program had also seen the appointment of nine Fellows As part of her residuary bequest to Harvard University on behalf of Dumbarton Oaks Mildred Bliss increased the standing of the garden program by establishing the Dumbarton Oaks Garden Endowment Fund Number II now in the amount of six million dollars For the maintenance operation and development of the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks including the establishment and maintenance of visiting or exchange fellowships for the individual study of garden design and ornament and special planting the publication of monographs or books on such subjects as plant material design ornament and subjects germane to city and country gardens Frederic Rhinelander King study for bookcase design With this new and sizable endowment in the early 1970s Dumbarton Oaks could formally inaugurate a Garden and Landscape Architecture Studies program created on the model of the existing Byzantine Studies program To facilitate this a significant reorganization of the Garden Advisory Committee took place and a Director of Studies was appointed This director was to be responsible among other duties for the expansion of the Garden Library Rare Book Collection in order to further develop the collection for research purposes In 1972

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/the-garden-library-rare-book-collection-and-the-creation-of-a-studies-program (2016-02-18)
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  • Stravinsky, Copland, Tower, and Shaw — Dumbarton Oaks
    May 8 1938 when Stravinsky proved unable to travel to America because of poor health Dumbarton Oaks Concerto album cover 1947 While the Blisses lived at Dumbarton Oaks between 1933 and 1940 they regularly hosted musical evenings in their Music Room after dinners On numerous occasions the Musical Art Quartet performed chamber music but other luminaries also performed including the American pianist Beveridge Webster the Spanish soprano Lucrezia Bori and the Polish American bass Doda Conrad The Musical Art Quartet Sascha Jacobsen and Paul Bernard violins Louis Kaufman viola and Maria Roemaet Rosanoff cello Wanda Landowska The transfer of Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940 did not bring an end to its musical offerings although the Second World War limited the number of occasions Between 1941 and 1945 Dumbarton Oaks sponsored twenty six concerts The Musical Art Quartet was again regularly featured and performed in honor of the Blisses thirty fifth wedding anniversary on April 14 1943 The Stradivarius Quartet gave two concerts in 1942 and 1945 under the auspices of the Friends of Music of the Library of Congress and its founder Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge The famous harpsichordist Wanda Landowska performed in 1943 and for this concert she provided her own program notes For the Passacaille of François Couperin she noted French music of the past has always been weighed down by certain prejudices trifling elegant or quaint it has been regarded as a sort of coquette endlessly humming the Bergère lègère to herself and pivoting through the steps of a perpetual minuet charming and vivacious it is true but incapable of experiencing a profound thought or emotion How could the pathos the richness of feeling the perfection of form of a musician like Couperin ever have led to such a misinterpretation of his implicit values as the

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/stravinsky-copland-tower-shaw (2016-02-18)
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  • Mildred Bliss: In Memoriam Henri Focillon, 1943 — Dumbarton Oaks
    de plaisir a l étudier de plus près Seldom has knowledge been disseminated with so gentle a touch or wit been so kindly or instruction so enthralling Henri Focillon was the embodiment of the Mediterranean Culture as expressed through the long and distinguished tradition of the humanistic discipline in France His nature as capacious for right feeling as his brain for broad thinking held unswervingly to his self imposed loyalties He abhorred cruelty despised insincerity and had contempt for the meretricious in all its forms Yet it was not because of his intense dislikes that the world recognized the strength of his unusual personality but because of the integrities by which he lived Kindliness and witty ridicule were his most devastating arms and he had never I imagine been defeated in a tilt With apprehensions so sensitive and analytical abilities so developed he had the exceptional capacity for moral suffering which is the price that must be met by the intellectual and the aesthete The somber tragedy of his country bowed him down Dumbarton Oaks cannot forget the physical battle for survival that Professor Focillon waged with his stricken heart waged and won during two years of torment A lesser nature would have been destroyed long since But the wound was too deep The Master groped through the black night which engulfs France and knew he would never see his land again But though too late for him he held the certainty of the rebirth of his race and the continuity of his nation Of Focillon s scholarly activities I am not alas competent to speak Professor Koehler his colleague whose gifts our friend greatly respected will I know do justice to the results of a lifetime of great industry and constructive accomplishments We laymen will remember him for his

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/mildred-bliss-in-memoriam-henri-focillon-1943 (2016-02-18)
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  • Wilhelm Koehler: First Senior Fellow in Charge of Research — Dumbarton Oaks
    in collaborative research on Byzantine monuments This research was to be assembled in what came to be called the Archives of Byzantine Art for future scholars Paul Sachs described the new endeavor A part of each Fellow s time is devoted to his own individual investigation the rest of his time is spent on a clearly defined central plan of research and this central plan constitutes the backbone of our scholarly activities It has been decided to undertake simultaneously two collateral and interdependent projects the one devoted to the written sources the other to the monuments of the period The first of the two projects the collection of the sources with a view to future publication as Fontes of Byzantine art requires no detailed explanation A brief comment on the second project may be of value in illustrating the organization of that part of our research work devoted to the monumental remains of the period A portion of the Roman Empire is assigned to each Fellow In the course of his work he becomes thoroughly familiar with the peculiar artistic dialect of the region and its development during the period in question In regular meetings presided over by the Senior Fellow in charge of Research reports on the progress of the work in each region are given These meetings offer the opportunity for a continuous exchange of views and discoveries between the Fellows who are obliged to relate their material to the background of contemporary developments in the regions The accumulated evidence resulting from these studies and discussions a critical and detailed summary of all available information concerning each monument and photographic reproductions of all pertinent illustrative material is filed at Dumbarton Oaks under the name of Archives of Byzantine Art In the progress of the work the assembled archaeological data will be integrated with the collateral project the Fontes devoted to the collection of the written sources Paul Sachs wrote enthusiastically to the Blisses about the group research dynamic calling it a beautiful and inspiring thing and praising the camaraderie that Koehler fostered steering the Junior Fellows away from tension while avoiding pedantry However Mildred Bliss a devotee of Henri Focillon s more contemplative approach to scholarship did not fully appreciate Koehler s interest in detail based collaborative research and their relationship already somewhat tenuous grew increasingly strained Indeed when Koehler s appointment at Dumbarton Oaks had first been announced Mildred Bliss wrote John Thacher from California You can imagine with how much interest we await the gen eral result of Prof Koehler s visit He will give great in tellectual stimulus to the staff and one likes to think that he is going to be closely interested in Dumbarton Oaks You won t forget will you that Focillon does not agree with Koehler s approach to his subject and that it is Focillon who seems to us to have the Golden Key Thacher wrote her back You know how I feel about Koehler and I hope that as

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/wilhelm-koehler-first-senior-fellow-in-charge-of-research (2016-02-18)
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  • Wilhelm Koehler and the Research Archives — Dumbarton Oaks
    North American Collections which contained over 11 000 mounted black and white photographic prints of Byzantine small scale objects Koehler stressed that only by relating the roving to the monumental material will it be possible to make progress and to put Byzantine studies on a sound basis But as the monumental material has never been systematically surveyed and organized it is suggested that Dumbarton Oaks which has made in the Census an outstanding contribution to the roving material should now undertake the study of monumental material List of illuminations and primary texts related to the monastery of St John of Studios Fontes Theophanes the Confessor Chronographia text on the monastery of St John of Studios Constantinople Fontes Koehler divided this work into two parts which quickly came to be known as the Fontes and the Research Archives Those Junior Fellows who were historians and philologists would work on the Fontes and search out primary textual sources for passages relevant to early Byzantine buildings The Junior Fellows who were archaeologists and art historians would review the existing publications on Byzantine monumental structures and compile critical dossiers There was no thought of going to study the actual monuments as this was the height of the Second World War and travel was difficult at best The long term goal of this collective research was to be the publication of an anthology of relevant primary sources and the establishment of a Research Archives for the benefit of future scholars working at Dumbarton Oaks Koehler articulated his vision for this academic program in a paper titled The Dumbarton Oaks Program and the Principle of Collaborative Research which he read at a meeting of the College Art Association and then published in the journal Speculum Monastery of St John of Studios ground plan Research Archives In explaining his program of collaborative research Koehler faulted the typical research institute for exclusively fostering isolated scholarly investigation In his opinion this tradition had often failed due to the fact that no one scholar had the training or the resources to successfully investigate the complexities of large research topics As Koehler put it too often the effort on the part of the scholar is out of all proportion to the result Dumbarton Oaks in his plan would firmly depart from this well established but ill conceived tradition The collaborative research of scholars in residence over a considerable period of time would be the cure for this unfortunate situation to coordinate the research of a group of scholars who are living in different places would be a difficult and strenuous task requiring much unselfishness much tact skill and patience on the part of the scholar who is in charge of the project Whereas by working together at Dumbarton Oaks scholars could systematically match the pertinent written sources to the monumental art of all early Byzantine provinces and from this combined data stylistic developments and chronologies could be established To do this a collaborative team was needed Koehler summarized the program the

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/wilhelm-koehler-and-the-research-archives (2016-02-18)
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  • Albert Mathias Friend Jr. and a “Premier Byzantine Studies Center” — Dumbarton Oaks
    member George La Piana 1879 1971 who was a Senior Fellow in residence at Dumbarton Oaks during the 1943 44 academic year Both men believed that Junior Fellowship appointments should continue at Dumbarton Oaks primarily in order to insure continuity in the fields of Byzantine studies Friend recommended I would keep the system of Junior Fellows much as it is at present but I would reduce the number as I have had to this year to three or four We could then get the best young scholars who would profit by working at a higher level of efficiency than in the past I don t think there are at any one time more than four or five in the country in the Byzantine field who would be worth having yet in order to get new blood their presence is essential However Friend and La Piana argued that Junior Fellowships should typically be limited to one year terms and that only those who had shown great promise should be reappointed at the more senior rank of Fellow Milton Anastos Paul Alexander and Ernst Kitzinger were held up as examples Indeed each of these men were appointed as Fellows in 1945 and as Assistant Professors in 1946 Friend rose rapidly in the administrative hierarchy at Dumbarton Oaks although he was disappointed not to have been named Director of the institution in 1946 a position that went to John Seymour Thacher However Friend was named Resident Scholar between 1944 and 1946 Henri Focillon Visiting Scholar in Charge of Research in 1947 1948 and Director of Byzantine Studies from 1948 until 1954 In a review of the state of Byzantine scholarship in America the Byzantine art historian Kurt Weitzmann summarized Friend s contributions at Dumbarton Oaks In the two succeeding years A M Friend

    Original URL path: http://www.doaks.org/75th-anniversary/blog/albert-mathias-friend-jr-and-a-premier-byzantine-studies-center (2016-02-18)
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