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Pevsner (Nikolaus) Papers
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Separated Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Nikolaus Pevsner papers
    Date (inclusive): 1903-1982
    Number: 840209
    Creator/Collector: Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1902-1983
    Physical Description: 84.3 Linear Feet (170 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Papers and manuscripts of the German-born art and architecture historian (1902-1983). Papers date primarily from the years following Pevsner's immigration to England in 1933, and include written and visual materials used for lectures or as research for his many books and articles. Files related to Pevsner's radio lectures and affiliations document his career as a public figure, and correspondence tracks his relationships with many key figures in 20th-century art and architecture.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy  .
    Language: Collection material is in English and German.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    The art and architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner was born in Germany in 1902. He worked with the Dresden Gallery (1924-1928) and taught at Göttingen University (1929-1933) before immigrating to England in 1933. In England Pevsner taught at Birkbeck College (University of London) and the Courtauld Institute, and lectured as the Slade Professor of Art at Cambridge (1949-1955) and Oxford (1969) Universities.
    Pevsner was a scholar of Italian baroque painting, German sculpture and the 19th and 20th century architecture of England and Europe. It is as an architectural historian that he is best remembered, partly because of the astonishing amount of work he did in this area, and also because of his strong point of view. His polemical view is evident in his 1936 book Pioneers of the Modern Movement (later re-titled Pioneers of Modern Design ) in which he first tried to persuade England to accept the Modern movement. He remained a persistent advocate for modern design and for historical preservation. Among his many publications are the following books: An Outline of European Architecture , the History of Building Types, and the monumental Buildings of England in 46 volumes, of which 35 were researched and written by Pevsner. Pevsner was an editor on the influential journal Architectural Review and edited the Pelican History of Art series which comprised 48 volumes. He received the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1967 and a knighthood in 1969. Pevsner died in 1983.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of the diaries in boxes 146-149, which require special handling.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Nikolaus Pevsner papers, 1903-1982, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 840209.

    Acquisition Information

    The Getty Research Institute acquired Pevsner's papers with his library in 1984. In addition, material was moved to the collection from accessions 840189 and 920028. Further additions to the collection were made in 2014 and 2016.
    Nikolaus Pevsner personal diaries, 1916-1923: Gift of the Family of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

    Processing Information

    Upon receipt of the collection, it was rehoused by the registrar and a finding aid was completed by Gene Waddell in 1990. In spring 2017, Talia Olshefsky completed a physical survey of Series I and II and processed two additions to the collection. An alphabetical list of correspondents was completed for Series I in order to increase granularity and discoverability; all newspaper clippings and photographic materials were rehoused to meet current conservation standards; box numbers 17A, 17B, and 19 were added to the finding aid; and a new addition of 112 personal diaries were rehoused and added to the finding aid as part of Series VI. Personal papers, 1916-1979, undated.

    Separated Materials

    Most of the books originally found with Pevsner's paper have been separated to the Getty Research Institute Research Library. Some heavily annotated books remain with the archive.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Nikolaus Pevsner papers contain his research files on art and architecture, manuscripts for many of his articles and books, correspondence with scholars, publishers and artists, lectures, and a collection of clippings and offprints of his articles. These papers date from 1906 to 1979, with the bulk dating from his years in England post-1933. (N. B.: Penguin Press Ltd has retained many of the files for The Buildings of England.) A small file of personal items includes family correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, awards and diaries. The books in Pevsner's library, many annotated, have been separated to the Getty Research Institute, Research Library.

    Arrangement note

    The archive is arranged in seven series: Series I. Correspondence, 1903-1982; Series II. Publication notes and manuscripts, 1919-1979; Series III. Lectures, 1934-1978, undated; Series IV. Research material: abstracts, 1906-1977, undated; Series V. Research material: illustrations - printed material, 1915-1977, undated; Series VI. Personal papers, 1916-1979, undated; Series VII. Clippings and offprints, 1923-1978.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1902-1983
    Morris, William, 1834-1896
    Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Courtauld Institute of Art
    University of London
    Architectural guides for travelers
    University of Oxford
    Architectural Association (Great Britain)
    Omega Workshops
    Penguin (Firm)
    Jerusalem Committee
    Great Britain. Royal Fine Art Commission
    University of Cambridge
    Gemäldegalerie (Dresden, Germany)

    Subjects - Topics

    Architecture -- Periodicals
    Art historians
    Architecture -- Great Britain -- Periodicals
    Architecture -- Great Britain -- History
    Architecture -- Modern
    Architecture -- Historiography
    Architecture -- England -- Guidebooks
    Architecture -- Education
    Architecture -- Great Britain -- Guidebooks
    Architecture -- Great Britain
    Painting, Baroque -- Italy
    Sculpture, German
    Architecture -- Directories

    Subjects - Places

    Great Britain -- Description and travel
    England -- Buildings, structures, etc.
    England -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Guidebooks

    Subjects - Titles

    A history of building types Englishness of English art Charles R. Mackintosh Buildings of England An outline of European architecture The Architectural review Academies of art, past and present Penguin dictionary of architecture Pioneers of the modern movement from William Morris to Walter Gropius


    Voysey, Charles F. A., 1857-1941
    Ebhardt, Bodo, 1865-
    Ashby, Charles R.
    Pinder, Wilhelm, 1878-1947
    Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1902-1983
    Mackmurdo, A. H. (Arthur Heygate), 1851-1942
    Schlosser, Julius, Ritter von, 1866-1938
    Posener, Julius
    Fleming, John, 1919-2001
    Russell, Gordon, 1892-1980
    Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969