Gisela MA Richter

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Gisela Marie Augusta Richter (born August 14, 1882 in London , † December 24, 1972 in Rome ) was a German-American classical archaeologist who worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for more than 40 years .


Gisela MA Richter was born into an art-loving family. The Dresden-born father Jean Paul Richter was friends with Giovanni Morelli , among others , her mother was the writer Louise Schwaab . Both the father and the sister Irma Richter dealt with the Renaissance as art historians . Morelli should also have a lasting influence on Gisela Richter. Richter spent her first years with her family in Florence and Rome . In 1892 the residence was moved to London, where Gisela Richter attended and graduated from Maida Vale High School near her residence . During a stay in Rome, she and her father not only visited the city's museums, but also listened to a lecture by Emanuel Loewy at the University of Rome and made the decision to become an archaeologist. In 1901 she went to Girton College in Cambridge . There the archaeological courses were held by external lecturers, but Richter's requirements did not meet, which is why she decided not to specialize at college after three years of graduation. At the University of Cambridge , she was, however, failed as a woman further study. In 1904 she went to the British School at Athens for a year , where she was able to inspire not only the director Robert Carr Bosanquet with her docile nature. Richter was the only female student at the facility. As a woman, Richter was not allowed to live in school, but had to move into a private pension. There she met American colleagues, including Harriet Boyd-Hawes, who was already well-known at the time .

Richter and her sister's grave on the Cimitero acattolico in Rome.

Boyd-Hawes not only became a role model and friend, but also paved Richter’s path to career. In 1905 she accompanied Boyd-Hawes to the USA, where she established contacts with Edward Robinson , who was shortly thereafter appointed Vice-Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. After his appointment, he systematically built up the Greco-Roman collection, and quickly found work for judges. At first she was only supposed to compile a catalog of the antique vases in the collection, but her position quickly became permanent. Richter would spend the rest of her academic career at the Metropolitan Museum. From 1906 she was initially an assistant, then from 1910 assistant curator and finally from 1922 extraordinary curator. From 1925 to 1948, she was the curator of the museum's antiques department, making her the second woman in the United States to achieve such a position after Sara Yorke Stevenson . As curator, Richter was responsible for some of the museum's most important new acquisitions, including a stand by the vase painter Kleitias , a crater by the vase painter Lydos and a portrait of the Roman emperor Caracalla . After her retirement in 1948, she remained an honorary curator until her death. In 1946 she arranged for her successor and brought Dietrich von Bothmer to the museum. In 1917 she became a US citizen, but maintained close contacts to Europe and spent her summer vacations there almost every year. In 1952 she moved to Rome and lived in the "Eternal City" for another 20 years. Since 1942 she was an elected member of the American Philosophical Society . In 1946 she was accepted as a corresponding member of the British Academy .


Richter was an expert in the field of gem research and a well-known scientist in the field of Etruscan art, doing research on Greek ceramics , antique jewelry and antique furniture. However, she is best known for her work on the New York Kuros . After the authenticity of the sculpture, which stood at the beginning of the large-scale sculpture in ancient Greece, had been questioned in parts of the professional world, Richter began to deal intensively with the Kuroi and was also able to prove the authenticity of the New York Kuros. She carried out further research on Attic grave reliefs and Greek portraits. Richter's list of publications includes well over 200 entries of both a scientific and a popular scientific nature. She published several works together with her sister Irma Richter. She has taught alongside museum work at Columbia University , Yale University , Bryn Mawr College, and Oberlin College .

Her estate can be found in the American Academy in Rome , apart from the part of the Metropolitan Museum that is kept there. It rests on the Cimitero acattolico in Rome.


  • Catalog of Greek Sculptures . Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 1954.
  • Handbook of Greek Art . Phaidon, Cologne 1966


  • Gisela Richter: My Memoirs. Recollections of an Archaeologist's Life . Rome 1972 (autobiographical).
  • Ingrid EM Edlund u. a .: Gisela Marie Augusta Richter (1882–1972). Scholar of Classical Art and Museum Archaeologist . In: Claire R. Sherman (Ed.): Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts, 1820–1979. Westport, CT 1981, pp. 275-300.
  • Calvin Tomkins: Merchants and Masterpieces. The Story of the Metropolitan Museum of Art . 2nd edition, New York 1989, pp. 123-128.
  • Brigitte Lowis: "I saw that I was a museum archaeologist." Gisela MA Richter - A life for the Metropolitan Museum (New York) . In: Ancient World . Volume 38, Issue 2, 2007, pp. 72-74.

Web links

Commons : Gisela Richter  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Member History: Gisela Maria Augusta Richter. American Philosophical Society, accessed January 24, 2019 .
  2. ^ Deceased Fellows. British Academy, accessed July 24, 2020 .