Brieger, Peter

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Brieger, Peter

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Prof. Peter H. Brieger (1898-1983) was an art historian and expert in medieval manuscripts and art. A professor at the University of Toronto, Dr. Brieger is considered “a pioneer in Art History as an academic discipline in Canada” (Eleen).

Dr. Brieger was born in 1898 in Breslau, to his father Oskar Brieger, an otolaryngologist, and his mother, Hedwig Lion. He was raised by a governess in an intellectual and cultured home. Brieger fought for Germany in World War I and was wounded in Flanders. Brieger then studied at Breslau and Munich and settled on art history as a discipline, studying under Wilhelm Pinder, Paul Frankl, and Heinrich Wölfflin. He worked as an assistant under August Grisebach at Breslau from 1922-1927 and received his Ph.D. in 1924. After spending 1927-1928 researching in Rome, he returned to Breslau, where he worked as a professor and married historian Barbara Ritter in 1931. In 1933, fearing Nazi persecution, he left for Paris. When he was officially classified a “non Aryan” in 1934, he moved to London, where he worked on the Atlas of Medieval Art and Architecture in England at the Courtauld Institute. It was here that his focus shifted from Baroque to medieval art.

In 1936, Dr. Brieger moved to Canada, where he taught at U of T and became a professor in 1947. He chaired the art history department from 1965 until his retirement in 1969. He also served as a part-time professor at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto until 1973 and contributed to “Art and the Courts: France and England from 1259 to 1328,” an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in 1972.

Dr. Brieger is the author of many influential articles and books, including "English Art, 1216-1307" (1957) and "Illuminated manuscripts of the Divine Comedy" (with Millard Meiss and Charles S. Singleton, 1969).

Dr. Brieger died in Toronto in 1983.


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-“Peter H. Brieger,” Senior College Encyclopedia.,_Peter_H.
-“Peter H. Brieger” in Dictionary of Art Historians
-Wollesen, Jens T., Eleen, Luba. In Memoriam: Peter Henry Brieger. Toronto: Department of Fine Art, University of Toronto, 1991.

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