Aby Warburg

Working Papers

Aby Warburg's Grundlegende Bruchstücke

Aby Warburg was one of the most important art historians of the early twentieth century and a founding father of the disciplines of cultural history and image science (Bildwissenschaft). He published relatively little during his lifetime and left a large amount of working papers. Our detailed catalogue provides easy access to his personal documents and working papers, including notes, drafts and in some cases proofs and annotated final copies of his texts, as well as lecture texts and occasional writings. This catalogue is still under revision and can only be consulted in the Archive.

Aby Warburg’s working copy of his doctoral dissertation (Sandro Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ and ‘Spring’)

The most important of Aby Warburg's working papers are listed in E.H. Gombrich, Aby Warburg. An Intellectual Biography, London (2nd ed.), 1986, in his 'Bibliography' under 'Unpublished Sources', pp. 343-347. A more complete list is published in Aby M. Warburg, Ausgewählte Schriften, ed. D. Wuttke, Baden-Baden (3rd ed.) 1992, pp. 585-97. The order recorded by Wuttke has been revised. The index card boxes are separately catalogued and can be searched in the Warburg Institute Archive online database.

Bilderatlas Mnemosyne

Aby Warburg's working copy of his Bilderatlas (first version)

The Bilderatlas Mnemosyne was Warburg's last project, the sum of his lifetime work. The famous panels were assembled in small numbers, then photographed and dismantled. The Archive holds the photographs of the authoritative last series and those of the three earlier series. The images that formed part of the displays are presently undergoing conservation and will eventually be transferred to the Archive. Digital copies are preserved in the Photographic Collection.


Copy book copy of a handwritten letter by Aby Warburg

The Archive holds some 38,000 letters written by and to Aby Warburg and his collaborators during his lifetime. The collection is particularly complete as Warburg kept copies of his outgoing letters from an early stage. The Warburg Institute Archive online database lists this correspondence, providing abstracts for each letter and biographical information for many of the correspondence partners.

The Warburg Institute

The 1944 Trust Deed agreed by the Warburg family and the University of London

The Archive holds extensive resources on the history of the Warburg Institute from its beginnings as a private library through the building of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (K.B.W.) in Hamburg in 1926, to the move to London in 1933/34 which resulted in a name change and two further moves before it found its present home in Bloomsbury. Resources include the General Correspondence (the catalogue with abstracts is accessible online up to 1933, with abstracts until 1929), as well as internal communications and minutes, building plans, lecture programmes, acquisitions lists and Annual Reports.

Scholars associated with the Institute

Dame Frances Yates

The Archive holds the working papers of many of its former Directors, members of staff and associated scholars, including the complete remaining papers of the former directors Fritz Saxl (1890-1948) and Gertrud Bing (1892–1964) as well as the literary estate of the cultural historian Dame Frances A. Yates (1899–1981).

In addition, the Archive contains both papers and collections relating to the archaeologist Alphons A. Barb (1901-1979), the art historian Michael Baxandall (1933-2008), the historian of religion Robert Eisler (1882-1949), the art historian Leopold D. Ettlinger (1913-1989), the archaeologist Henri Frankfort (1897-1954), the art historian Sir Ernst H. Gombrich (1909-2001), the medievalist Evelyn Jamison (1877-1972), the art historian Betty Kurth (1878-1948), the art historians Otto Kurz (1908-1975) and his wife Hilde Kurz (1910-1981), the Institute's Secretary Anne Marie Meyer (1919-2004), the art historian Charles Mitchell (1912-1995), the classical scholar Roger A.B. Mynors (1903-1989), the art historian Ruth Olitsky Rubinstein (1924-2002), the ophthalmologist Siegfried Seligmann (1870-1926), the philosopher Walter Solmitz (1905-1962), the cultural historian Daniel P. Walker (1914-1985) and the historian Roberto Weiss (1906-1969).

The Gombrich Archive

Sir Ernst Gombrich's BBC diary from 1943

The Gombrich Archive holds the correspondence and working papers of Ernst H. Gombrich, former Director of the Institute and one of the most famous and influential art historians of the 20th Century.

It has a special status within the Warburg Institute Archive's collections as it is on loan from the Literary Estate of Sir Ernst H. Gombrich.

In order to access the collection, readers must first obtain permission from the Literary Estate. Enquiries may be sent initially to the Warburg Institute Archive.