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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 1905, 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.
Death and legacy
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.
- Handbook of the Classical Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1922.
- The Craft of Athenian Pottery, Yale University Press, 1923.
- Lectures by Edith R. Abbot and Gisela M.A. Richter for students in New York universities, members of the museum and others, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1934
- Ancient Furniture, Clarendon Press, 1926.
- Animals in Greek Sculpture: A Survey, Oxford University Press, 1930.
- Red-Figured Athenian Vases in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume 1 (Text) and 2 (Plates), Yale University Press, 1936.
- Etruscan terracotta warriors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a report on structure and technique by Charles F. Binns. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1937.
- Augustan art : an exhibition commemorating the bimillennium of the birth of Augustus, New York, January 4, 1939, through February 19, by Gisela Richter and Christine Alexander. Metropolitan Museum of art, 1939.
- Handbook of the Etruscan Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1940.
- Ancient Gems from the Evans and Beatty Collections, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1942.
- Archaic Attic Gravestones, Harvard University Press, 1944.
- Greek Painting : The Development of Pictorial Representation from Archaic to Graeco-Roman Times, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944.
- A Brief Guide to the Greek Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y., 1947.
- 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.
- Catalogue of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University Press, 1956.
- Attic Red-Figured Vases, Yale University Press, 1946, revised edition, 1958.
- The Archaic Gravestones of Attica, Phaidon, 1961.
- Greek Portraits, Latomus, Volume I, 1955, Volume II, 1959, Volume III, 1960, Volume IV, 1962, Volume V, 1964.
- The Furniture of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, Phaidon, 1966.
- Korai: Archaic Greek Maidens, Phaidon, 1968.
- A Handbook of Greek Art, Phaidon, 1959, 6th edition, 1969.
- (With Irma Richter) Kouroi: Archaic Greek Youths, Oxford University Press, 1942, 3rd edition, Phaidon, 1970.
- Engraved Gems of the Greeks and the Etruscans, Praeger, Volume I, 1968, Volume II, 1971.
- Perspective in Greek and Roman Art, Phaidon, 1970.
- The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, Yale University Press, 1929, 4th revised edition, 1970.
- The Portraits of the Greeks, three volumes, Phaidon, 1965, supplement, 1972.
- Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases. By Gisela M. A. Richter and Marjorie J. Milne. Plantin, 1935, reprinted, McGrath, 1973.
- 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
- Judy Barrett Litoff; Judith McDonnell (1994). European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. pp. 245–. ISBN 978-0-8240-5306-2.
- Richter, Gisela M[arie] A[ugusta] Dictionary of Art Historians, 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. Archived here.
- Stephen L. Dyson (January 1998). Ancient Marbles to American Shores: Classical Archaeology in the United States. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 147–. ISBN 0-8122-3446-4.
- 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.
- Media related to Gisela Richter at Wikimedia Commons