The Warburg Institute and Architectural Photography (2)

As is the way of these things, I’ve got more interested in the influence of the Warburg in the Second World War and in photography. It has become clear to me from an article in The Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, which fortunately is available online, that one of the reasons Fritz Saxl was so keen on photographic exhibitions was because, having served as an officer in the First World War, he was then employed by the army to organise morale-building photographic exhibitions to tour what was left of Austria, so retained an interest in this form of adult education. And the quality of the Warburg’s photographs of the tombs in Westminster Abbey was so high, as taken by Helmut Gernsheim (but unattributed), that Kenneth Clark gave his set to the Queen, who used them in turn to encourage the young Princess Elizabeth in an interest in art, Clark writing to Saxl in July 1943 that ‘I have given away the original set of photographs of the bronze effigies in Westminster Abbey to the queen.   She is enchanted with them, and they are being used in the history lessons of Princess Elizabeth’. Interesting – at least, it is to me.

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