Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment

Wednesday 13 March, 2024

by Jaynie Anderson (Rhodes Visiting Fellow & St Hugh's 1970)

Jaynie Anderson is an Australian art historian, writer, curator of exhibitions and Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne.

I first met Edgar Wind when he was professor of art history at Oxford. He interviewed me for my Rhodes Fellowship at St Hugh’s College in 1969. The process for interviewing was different then, as the Rhodes Trust wanted to encourage women candidates, but had legal obstacles, so we were called Rhodes Fellows rather than Scholars. I was the first appointed by an Oxford College.

As an undergraduate in Melbourne, I had read Wind’s Art and Anarchy (1963) and Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (1958). I was thrilled to meet him. The examination took place in his library of sixteenth century-books, where we discussed exclusively primary documents in art history, prints and texts, in relation to Giorgione and other Renaissance artists. This concentration on primary sources has remained with me forever. When I begin a new subject, I always concentrate on original sources, whether visual or written, and only look at later theories when I have decided on a possible interpretation. After I had completed my doctoral dissertation on Giorgione, I edited two volumes of his collected works, The Eloquence of Symbols (1983) and Hume and the heroic Portrait (1986), which republished his earliest articles in art history, some from the first years of the Journal of the Warburg Institute (1937-1939).

Edgar Wind Image

After that I pursued other subjects, wrote other books, but this changed in October 2021 when Bernardino Branca asked me to contribute to a conference on Edgar Wind at the Italian Cultural Institute in London. It was the time of the worst lockdown in Melbourne, when only former prime ministers could travel abroad, so I zoomed in, to encounter online younger German and Italian scholars who had engaged with the newly established Edgar Wind Archive at the Bodleian Library. Margaret Wind, Edgar’s wife, had spent the last thirty years of her life creating this extraordinary archive that charts Edgar’s career from Berlin, to London, to Chicago, and finally Oxford. This book considers a crucial research question: to understand the work of an art historian, how important is it to know their life story? In the case of Edgar Wind, it may not be essential, but it is an enriching experience. For example, Oswyn Murray reveals in our book, Wind’s role in the transfer of the Warburg library from Hamburg to London may now be understood.

Edgar Wind Art and Embodiment

Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment is published by Peter Lang. For more details of the book's launch at Trinity College, Oxford on 16 April, click here.

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