Italian connoisseur and art historian Giovanni Morelli was born on 25 February 1816 in Verona.

By Ioannis Tzortzakakis

Italian connoisseur and art historian Giovanni Morelli was born on 25 February 1816 in Verona. Morelli studied medicine at the universities of Munich and Erlangen, though never practised it. He published two art history books under the pseudonym Nicholas Schäffer, while later he used the pseudonym Ivan Lermolieff. Travelling to Berlin he met, among others, Alexander von Humboldt, Karl Friedrich von Rumohr and Gustav Waagen. In Milan, he met Sir Charles Lock Eastlake. Later, he worked on his art history methodology of distinguishing the hand of the artist in paintings by close examining details, the ear, for instance. In 1890, he met Bernard Berenson, for whom he wrote several recommendation letters to secure access to examine paintings for his work. Jean Paul Richter, Adolfo Venturi, Julius von Schlosser, Alois Riegl and Wilhelm von Bode are just some prominent examples of the intellectual influence of Morelli in the study of art history. He died in Milan on 28 February 1891.

Find the books of Giovanni Morelli in The Online Books Page.

Further reading.

John Pope-Hennessy (1994) Morelli and Richter” On Artists and Art Historians: Selected Book Reviews of John Pope-Hennessy, Florence: Leo S. Olschki, Villa I Tatti, Harvard University, Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, pp. 327-329. 

Eric Fernie (1995) Art History and its Methods, London: Phaidon Press, pp.103-115.

Federico Zeri and Francesco Rossi (1986) La raccolta Morelli nell’Accademia Carrara, Bergamo: Credito Bergamasco, Amilcare Pizzi.


Franz Seraph von Lenbach (1886) Portrait of Giovanni Morelli, oil on canvas, Bergamo (BG), Accademia Carrara – Museo.

Franz Seraph von Lenbach Portrait of Giovanni Morelli, published in his book Kunstkritische Studien über italienische Malerei (Band 3): Die Galerien zu Berlin, (Leipzig: Hrsg. von Gustavo Frizzoni, 1893) (Heidelberg University Library).

Title page of his book Die Werke italienischer Meister in den Galerien von München, Dresden und Berlin. Ein kritischer Versuch (Leipzig, 1880) using the pseudonym Ivan Lermolieff. (Heidelberg University Library).

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