Guide to the Papers of Walter Friedlaender (1873-1966)

AR 3393 / MF 791

Processed by LBI Staff and Dianne Ritchey Oummia

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2007 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in June 2007. Description is in English.
April 2008. Microfilm information added. May 2011 Links to digital objects added in Container List. March 29, 2018: Biographical note edited.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Friedlaender, Walter F., 1873-1966
Title: Walter Friedlaender Collection
Dates:bulk 1930-1960
Abstract: The Walter Friedlaender Collection describes the professional life of this art historian. The major focus of the collection is his work on sixteenth and seventeenth century artists. It includes correspondence, a few published works, photographs, lecture and manuscript notes, art reference files, newspaper clippings, and poetry.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, and Italian.
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet + 1 oversized folder
Identification: AR 3393
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Walter Ferdinand Friedlaender was born in 1873 in Glogau, now Glogow, Poland, the son of Sigismund Friedlaender and Anna Joachimsthal. His parents died while he was young, and at thirteen he went to live with an older sister in Berlin. He attended the University of Berlin, and received his doctorate in Sanskrit in 1898; his dissertation, a translation with annotations of a portion of the Mahabarata, was published two years later. Shortly thereafter he went to London to study at the British Museum on a post-doctoral fellowship. While there, he visited the National Gallery where he developed an interest in art history.

After returning to Berlin, Freidlaender studied art history under Heinrich Wölfflin although he was unable to pursue a second doctorate in the field of art history. In 1904 his reviews of art exhibitions began to be published, sometimes under the name Friedrich Walter. In 1912 Friedlaender wrote a book on the frescoes of Federico Barocci, and in 1914 his book Nicolas Poussin was published. That same year he became a Privatdozent at the University of Freiburg’s recently founded art history department, headed by Wilhelm Vöge. Friedlaender would stay at the university until he left Germany in 1933. His research and teaching there largely focused on the work of Nicolas Poussin as well as the artists presently often referred to as the mannerists; Friedlaender termed them anti-classicists. Among Friedlaender’s students was Erwin Panofsky. Several of his lectures from this time period were published by the Warburg Institute in 1925 and 1930.

Walter Friedlaender was dismissed from his university position in 1933, just prior to his retirement, because of his Jewish heritage. With the aid of his former student, Erwin Panofsky, he was able to procure a temporary position at the University of Pennsylvania and then a permanent position at New York University’s Insitute of Fine Arts. In 1943 Friedlaender and his wife separated. Walter Friedlaender’s lectures at the Insitute primarily focused on the same areas of the field he had spent his life studying, and he kept this position until his death in 1966. Several of his earlier German works were published in translation by his students.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection principally documents the work and professional relationships of the art historian Walter Friedlaender. To a smaller extent, it also allows a glance at his personal life and the events occurring in Nazi Germany.

Walter Friedlaender’s professional life is evidenced in all series in this collection. Series I: Personal includes a biographical article on an honorary title bestowed on Friedlaender by the University of Freiburg (Ehrensenator). Series II holds correspondence from his colleagues and students. Some of these letters discuss others’ opinions on topics in Friedlaender’s area of study, although many simply mention professional events and occurrences. Among the letters are several from his colleague and former student Erwin Panofsky, covering a range of more than two decades. Correspondence written for Friedlaender on his significant birthdays praises his work and includes poems written for him by other professionals. Daily calendars are contained in Series III, and these often list meetings and planned work as well as occasionally including notes that may have been used for talks or lectures. More detailed notes used for lectures as well as drafts of writing and will be found in Series IV, which holds the bulk of material pertaining to Friedlaender’s professional work. This series also includes copies of Friedlaender’s early work in the field, especially his reviews of art exhibits. Files of representations of artwork that Friedlaender may have used in teaching or writing will also be found in Series IV. Changes in Germany in his field are documented among the newspaper clippings found in Series V.

This collection only holds a small amount of papers dedicated to the personal life of Walter Friedlaender. Much of the correspondence from colleagues in Series II discusses such personal topics as his health and visits he planned, as well as information on colleagues they had in common. Series I includes photographs not only of Friedlaender himself, but also of unidentified individuals, who may be family members or friends. Personal appointments and activities are also revealed in the daily calendars of Series III.

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The collection is arranged into five series in the following manner:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Collection is microfilmed (MF 791).

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Separated Material

Many photographs, including portraits of Walter Friedlaender, have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection. Duplicate portraits remain in the collection.

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The collection is on nine reels of microfilm (MF 791):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Walter Friedlaender Collection; AR 3393; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

In the preparation of the EAD finding aid, two boxes of addenda - primarily correspondence, publications, and lecture notes - were incorporated into the collection and the collection was reboxed. Areas of the collection previously grouped together by similar material were kept together and given series and subseries titles and description. Several large, overfilled folders of unidentified art of buildings, frescoes, and statues found among the reproductions of Series IV, Subseries 3 were titled "architectural art."

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Personal, undated, 1961

Series I is in German.
4 folders + 1 oversized folder.


Scope and Content:

Series I is the smallest area of the collection and is comprised of a biographical article and several folders of photographs. The biographical article describes Friedlaender being granted the title of Ehrensenator at the University of Freiburg, where he had taught from 1921 until leaving Germany in 1933. The remainder of this series is comprised of photographs and Friedlaender's diplomas, including his doctorate and the abovementioned honorary degree from the University of Freiburg.

Many photographs in this series have been removed to the LBI’s Photograph Collection. Those remaining include duplicates of portraits of Walter Friedlaender and many photographs of unidentified individuals.

11Biographical Article1961
12Photographs - Students, Family and Friendsundated
13Photographs - Walter Friedlaenderundated
13Photographs - Walter Friedlaender - Portraitsundated
OS 8Oversized diplomas1900
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Series II: Correspondence,  1931-1963

This series is in German and English.
0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This series mainly holds correspondence sent to Walter Friedlaender, with only a small amount of drafts of letters sent by him to others. The most extensive amount of correspondence in Series II is from Erwin Panofsky, one of Friedlaender’s students at the University of Freiburg who later became his colleague at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Correspondence between Friedlaender and Panofsky contains news both professional and personal, and includes mention of professional positions and art exhibitions. In addition there is also a folder in this series that holds a published review by Friedlaender of Erwin Panofsky's monograph Idea.

The birthday correspondence given to Walter Friedlaender for his sixtieth, seventieth, and ninetieth birthdays are comprised of pages of Festschriften composed for him by his colleagues. Included among these papers are letters, telegrams, and poems written for him by individuals with whom he worked and corresponded, including members of institutions such as the Warburg Institute, Bibliotheca Hertziana, New York University, and Vassar College, among others. The numerous individuals represented here consist of colleagues as well as students, including Karl Bauch, Ludwig Burchard, Kurt Cassirer, Walter Cook, John Coolidge, Jane Costello, Creighton Gilbert, Curt Glaser, Frederick Hartt, Karl Lehmann, Erwin Panofsky, and Mahonri Young.

For the most part, the letters sent to Friedlaender are letters written by colleagues updating Friedlaender on recent news or professional events. Several individuals discuss Friedlaender's own writing and publications, including Anthony Blume, various members of the Warburg Institute, and C. Greighton (among the New York University letters). Some of Friedlaender's colleagues also mention World War II and postwar Europe; these topics are especially addressed by Kurt Cassirer and Joan Knowlton.

15Bauch, Kurt1936-1938
16Beck, David1944
17Birthdays - Sixtieth1933
18Birthdays - Seventieth1943
19Birthdays - Ninetieth1963
110Blume, Anthony1945-1951
111Burchard, Ludwig1932-1935
112Cassirer, Kurt1939-1945
113Costello, Janeundated, 1943-1948
115Glaser, Curt1943
116Gurlitt, Wilhelm1936-1937
117Keller, Philipp1947-1948
118Knowlton, Joan1948
119Krautheimer, Richard and Trude1943-1948
120Link?, Anneundated
121Miller, Margaretundated
122New York University1942-1943
123Other Individuals1932-1956
  • Goldsmith, W.
  • Hescher, Marta
  • Hescher, Paul
  • Hill, Pamela
  • Ivins, William
  • Montgomery, Martha
  • Panofsky, Dora
  • Unidentified
124Panofsky, Erwin1931-1956
125Panofsky, Erwin - Idea1945
127Randolph, Marie and Kuno1937-1938
128Simson, Otto1938
129Stechow, W.1932-1939
130Warburg Institute (Gertrud Bing and F. Saxl)undated, 1932-1956
131Wilde, I.1932-1938
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Series III: Daily Calendars,  1927-1961

Series III is in German and English.
0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Walter Friedlaender’s daily calendars are contained in Series III. These calendars record appointments and meetings, and occasionally include notes pertinent to Friedlaender’s personal activities. Brief comments on visits to galleries and exhibits to view paintings are also mentioned, as are notes concerning his teaching schedule.

3Daily Calendars1927-1961
3Daily Calendars1927-1961
3Daily Calendars1927-1961
3Daily Calendars1927-1961
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Series IV: Professional,  1900-1966

This series is in German, English, and Italian.
1.375 linear feet.

This series contains the following three subseries:

Scope and Content:

Documents pertaining to Walter Friedlaender’s professional work, primarily concerning his research and written work, but also his lectures at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, will be found in Series IV. The series is primarily comprised of notes used in lectures and compositions as well as reference files possibly used for similar purposes. A few copies of his early published articles are located in this series as well.

Subseries 1: Published Works, 1900-1912

Subseries 1 is in German.


Scope and Content:

This small subseries holds a sample of Walter Friedlaender’s published writing. Included is his doctoral dissertation, which was not in the field of art history but in Sanskrit, an annotated translation of a section of the Mahabarata. Some of Friedlaender's early writings on art will be found in the offprints of the Westermanns illustrierten deutschen Monatsheften. These articles describe art exhibits in Berlin, Rome, and at the Kloster Monte Oliveto Maggiore near Siena, as well as discuss the architecture of structures in Ypern, Belgium. Other art exhibits are critiqued in his newspaper articles.

132Dissertation - Der mahavrata-Abschnitt des Cankhayana-Aranyaka herausgegeben, übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen versehen1900
133Published Newspaper Articles1904-1907
134Westermanns Monatsheften - Articles1904-1912

Subseries 2: Notes, 1938-1966

Subseries 2 is in German and English.


Scope and Content:

Most of the papers in Subseries 2 are notes Walter Friedlaender may have used in the production of his academic lectures or manuscripts. The majority of these are handwritten. The focus of the notes is on Friedlaender’s main areas of study, including mannerism and iconography, stoicism, and the comparison of sixteenth and seventeenth century European artists with the works of earlier artists.

135Cigoli - Research Notesundated
136Cigoli and Rubens - Manuscript Draftsundated
137Exempla Virtutisundated
139Lecture - Florentine and Central Italian Painting of the Sixteenth Century1940-1941
140Lecture - Later Venetian and Northern Italian Painting1940-1946
141Lecture - Later Venetian and Northern Italian Painting (Fine Arts 228) - Lotto, Savaldo, Dossi, & Romanino1966
142Lecture Notes - Titianundated
143Lecture - Venetian Painting (XVI century)undated, 1939-1959
145Stoa - notes of Jane Costelloundated
146Student Papers - Exempla Virtutis1959-1964
147Student Papers - Stoicism1959
148Student Papers - Titian Woodcuts - Notes for Thesis
149Titian - Lecture1966
150Titian - Lecture - Portraitsundated
151Titian - Lecture - Sacred and Profane Loveundated, 1943
152Titian - Lecture - Mimi's Notesundated, 1959
153Titian - Research Notesundated
154Titian - Research Notes - Articles by Other Authors1938-1966
155Titian and Pordenone - Lecture Notes and Student Paperundated
156Two Notes on Titianundated

Subseries 3: Art Reference Files, undated, 1966

Subseries 3 is in German, English, and Italian.


Scope and Content:

The reference files held in this subseries consist of reproductions of works by numerous artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries whose work Walter Friedlaender studied. Reproductions of art include photographs (often with notations of the gallery where the piece was located), photocopies, magazine clippings, and postcards. They are organized in original order as found in the collection, with the exception of the folders labeled "architectural art," which included a large amount of unidentified works.

Works by artists from the Low Countries will be found in several places in this subseries. Among these are the two folders labeled Amsterdam, which include depictions of Rembrandt’s works, as well as in the folders called Flemish III, Holland, Old Dutch, and Rembrandt and his Contemporaries. Individual folders for artists from this region will also contain relevant reproductions.

"Architectural Art" contains the depictions of ornate decorations on buildings, frequently including views of churches. These display characteristics of architecture of the late Renaissance and early Baroque period, and include depictions of art such as frescoes, paintings, a few statues, and various types of reliefs found on walls and ceilings. Human figures are frequently the subject of the decorations, and this type of art includes both interior work as well as exterior art. A few reproductions feature both paintings and reliefs.

21Amsterdam I-Vundated
22Amsterdam VI-IXundated
23Architectural Art - Diagramsundated
24Architectural Art - Exteriorsundated
25Architectural Art - Interiors - Paintings and Frescoesundated
26Architectural Art - Interiors - Paintings and Frescoesundated
27Architectural Art - Interiors - Reliefs and Statuesundated
28Bril, Paulundated
29Carpi, Girolamo daundated
210Cigoli, Ludovico Cardi daundated
211Costa, Lorenzo daundated
212Dürer, Albrechtundated
213El Greco (Domenico Theotocopuli)undated
214El Greco (Domenico Theotocopuli) - Articlesundated, 1966
215Flemish III - Contemporaries and Followers of Rubensundated
216Franco, Giovanni Battistaundated
217German - Lucas Cranachundated
218German - Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuriesundated
219Holbein, Hans - Elder and Youngerundated
221Leyden, Lucas vanundated
222Lorenzo, Martirioundated
223Murillo, Bartolomé Estébanundated
224Muziano, Girolamoundated
225Old Dutch Iundated
226Old Dutch IIIundated
OS 8Oversized Art Reproductionsundated
227Peruzzi, Balthasarundated
228Razzani, G.undated
229Rembrandt and his Contemporariesundated
231Spanish - Generalundated
232Spanish - Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuriesundated
233Spanish - Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuriesundated
234Spanish - Seventeenth Centuryundated
235Unclassified Artundated
236Velasquez, Diegoundated
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Series V: Newspaper Clippings on Nazi Germany,  1925-1934

This series is in German
0.125 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series V contains numerous newspaper clippings from the 1930s collected by Walter Friedlaender. These clippings portray the changes occurring in German society at the time. Some of the clippings in this series list individuals who were dismissed or leaving positions in cultural institutions at the time, including universities, theater associations, and museums. Included are also many propagandistic statements by the Nazi government that were published in German newspapers, such as texts of speeches and announcements of new laws and regulations. Clippings on the Geneva Protocols will also be found here.

237Art and Nazism1933-1934
238Art, Literature and Theater1933-1934
239Aryans and Non-Aryans1933-1934
241Geneva Protocols1925
242Justice in the Third Reich1933-1934
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