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Gisela Marie Augusta Richter (August 15, 1882 – December 24, 1972), was a classical archaeologist and art historian. Gisela Richter was born in London, England, the daughter of Jean Paul and Louise (Schwaab) Richter. Both of her parents and her sister, Irma, were historians of Italian Renaissance art. She was educated at Maida Vale School, one of the finest schools for women at the time. She decided to become a classical archaeologist while attending Emmanuel Loewy's lectures at the University of Rome around 1896. In 1901 she attended Girton College at the University of Cambridge and the British School at Athens.
She joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as an assistant in 1906, becoming assistant curator in 1910, associate curator in 1922, and curator of Greek and Roman art in 1925, a position she held until 1948, when she became honorary curator until her death in 1972. As curator she was one of the most influential people in classical art history at the time.
She lectured at Columbia University, Yale University, Bryn Mawr College, and Oberlin College. As author of numerous popular books on classical art, she had an enormous influence on the general public's understanding and appreciation of the subject. In 1944, she received the Achievement Award from the American Association of University Women.
Richter died in Rome.
Writing 30 years after Richter's death, Camille Paglia paid tribute to her "for her clarity and rigor of mind; her fineness of sensibility and connoisseurship; her attention to detail and her power of observation and deduction; her mastery of form and design."
- Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes, Gilliss Press, 1915.
- Catalogue of Engraved Gems of the Classical Style, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920, published as Catalogue of Engraved Gems: Greek, Etruscan and Roman, 1956.
- The Craft of Athenian Pottery, Yale University Press, 1923.
- Ancient Furniture, Clarendon Press, 1926.
- Handbook of the Classical Collection, revised and enlarged edition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1927.
- The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, Yale University Press, 1929, 4th revised edition, 1970.
- Animals in Greek Sculpture: A Survey, Oxford University Press, 1930.
- Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases, Plantin, 1935, reprinted, McGrath, 1973.
- Red-Figured Athenian Vases in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, 1936.
- Handbook of the Etruscan Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1940.
- Ancient Gems from the Evans and Beatty Collections, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1942.
- (With Irma Richter) Kouroi: Archaic Greek Youths, Oxford University Press, 1942, 3rd edition, Phaidon, 1970.
- Archaic Attic Gravestones, Harvard University Press, 1944.
- Attic Red-Figured Vases, Yale University Press, 1946, revised edition, 1958.
- Roman Portraits, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1948.
- Archaic Greek Art against Its Historical Background, Oxford University Press, 1949.
- Three Critical Periods in Greek Sculpture, Oxford University Press, 1952.
- Attic Black-Figured Kylikes, Harvard University Press, 1953.
- Handbook of the Greek Collection, Harvard University Press, 1953.
- Catalogue of Greek Sculptures, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harvard University Press, 1954.
- Ancient Italy, University of Michigan Press, 1955.
- Greek Portraits, Latomus, Volume I, 1955, Volume II, 1959, Volume III, 1960, Volume IV, 1962, Volume V, 1964.
- Catalogue of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University Press, 1956.
- Greek Painting, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1957.
- A Handbook of Greek Art, Phaidon, 1959, 6th edition, 1969.
- The Archaic Gravestones of Attica, Phaidon, 1961.
- The Portraits of the Greeks, three volumes, Phaidon, 1965, supplement, 1972.
- The Furniture of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, Phaidon, 1966.
- Korai: Archaic Greek Maidens, Phaidon, 1968.
- Engraved Gems of the Greeks and the Etruscans, Praeger, Volume I, 1968, Volume II, 1971.
- Perspective in Greek and Roman Art, Phaidon, 1970.
- Frank E. Brown, Studi Etruschi 41 (1973)
- Homer Thompson, American Philosophical Society-Yearbook (1973)
- Cornelius C. Vermeule III, The Burlington Magazine 115 (1973)
References and sources
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- My Memoirs: Recollections of an Archaeologist's Life, by Gisela Richter, 1972.
- "Gisela Richter," in Notable American Women, ed. Barbara Sicherman and Carol H. Green, 1980.
- "Scholar of Classical Art and Museum Archaeologist," in Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts, 1820-1979, ed. Claire R. Sherman,1981
- "Gisela Richter," in Invisible Giants: 50 Americans That Shaped the Nation but Missed the History Books, Oxford University Press; March 2002.