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Pevsner, Sir Nikolaus

PEVSNER, SIR NIKOLAUS (1902–1983), British architectural historian. Born in Leipzig, he studied at various German universities. After working as assistant keeper at the Dresden Art Gallery (1924–28) and as lecturer in art history and architecture at the University of Goettingen (1929–33), he emigrated to England when Hitler came to power. He was a lecturer and later (1959–69) professor of fine art at Birkbeck College, London, as well as Slade professor of fine art at Cambridge (1949–55) and professor of fine art at Oxford (1968–69), and was also an honorary fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Books such as his classic An Outline of European Architecture (1942) helped spread a knowledge of architectural history, and his Buildings of England series, published in many county volumes between 1958 and 1973, which called attention to the English architectural heritage, became one of the best-known series of works on Britain's heritage ever written. These made Pevsner a household name among educated people in Britain. Pevsner gave many talks on BBC radio, including the 1955 Reith Lecture. He was knighted in 1969. Pevsner was one among a surprising number of German Jewish refugees who not merely adapted to England but, in a sense, became British icons.


Hughes-Santon, in: Design, 222 (June, 1967), 56–57. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: ODNB online.