Gombrich, E. H. (Ernst Hans). (1 of 5). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives

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    Interviewee's home, London, United Kingdom

  • Interviewees

    Gombrich, E. H. (Ernst Hans), 1909- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker,female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1. Anecdote about Kant. Mishearings from Ernst Gombrich's (EG) days at BBC Monitoring Service during the WW2. Impact of WW1 on EG. Breakdown of Austro-Hungarian monarchy. 2 elder sisters and EG made up mock-patriotic poems. Toys included an Emperor Franz Josef. Childhood books. Interest in history of art came later, but was interested in different styles of buildings in Vienna from approx age 11. Main interest as a child was in mineralogy. Family had ten volume book on world of animals which EG studied and from which made copy drawings; parents thought copying was unimportant and praised elder sister who drew from imagination. Incident in primary school when made plasticine model. Memories of Nikolaus Pevsner. EG's work on Giulio Romano. Still dreams about architecture. Impact of changing to English as his main language. EG's 'History of the World for Children'. Clarity of EG's writing. Father's suffering at having to flee Austria. When parents joined EG, his wife and son in England, family moved to house in Paddington, difficulties with end of the lease. Trauma for father of having to put his possessions into storage when war broke out. EG and his wife have tried to avoid passing the weight of the tragedy of WW2 onto their son. EG was never involved in Intelligence work during WW2, was only listening to open broadcasts. Generation of ex-servicemen students who came to Warburg were passionately enthusastic about their studies. EG taught cultural history of Renaissance to them. EG enjoyed teaching.

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