Karl Parker

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Sir Karl Theodore Parker, CBE, FBA (2 July 1895 – 22 July 1992), occasionally known as KTP, was an English art historian and museum curator. He was Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 1945 to 1962 and Trustee of the National Gallery from 1962 to 1969.

Early life and education[edit]

Parker was born on 2 July 1895 in Marylebone, London. He was the younger son of Robert William Parker, a surgeon, and Marie Amélie Parker (née Lüling). He was educated at the independent Bedford School, and the Lycée Saint-Louis, Paris. He then studied chemistry at the German University of Freiburg. He went on to study at the University of Zürich where he presented a doctoral thesis on 'Oliver Cromwell's reputation traced through English literature'.[1][2]


In 1925, Parker was appointed an assistant keeper of the print room of the British Museum.[2] In 1934, he joined the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, as Keeper of the Department of Fine Art.[1] He additionally served as Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum (IE head of the whole museum) between 1945 and 1962.[3] Having then retired, he maintained up a link with the art world as a trustee of the National Gallery, serving as such between 1962 and 1969.[1]

Personal life[edit]

On 14 January 1928, Parker married Audrey Isabel James. Together they had two daughters, Lavinia and Caroline.[2] His wife predeceased him, dying in 1976.[1]


In the 1954 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of his service as Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.[4] In the 1960 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Knight Bachelor, in recognition of further service as Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, and therefore granted the title sir.[5] He received the accolade from Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (acting on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II) during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 9 February 1960.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Lowe, Ian (27 July 1992). "Obituary: Sir Karl Parker". The Independent. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Harrison, Colin (May 2006). "Parker, Sir Karl Theodore (1895–1992)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/51272. Unknown parameter |access_date= ignored (help)(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ 'PARKER, Sir Karl (Theodore)', Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2016; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014; online edn, April 2014 accessed 12 Sept 2017
  4. ^ "No. 40188". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 1954. pp. 3267–3268.
  5. ^ "No. 41909". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1959. p. 2.
  6. ^ "No. 41953". The London Gazette. 12 February 1960. p. 41953.

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