Hans Christian Hönes - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Hans Christian Hönes

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Hans Christian Hönes

Lecturer in the History of Art

Hans is a historian of 18th and 19th-century art and historiography, with a particular interest in themes such as the history of classical receptions, the search for the ‘origins’ of art, and art and climatology.

He studied art history at the universities of Würzburg and Munich, where he completed his doctorate in 2013, with a thesis on 18th-century antiquarianism and the search for the origins of art. Prior to joining the Courtauld in 2019, he has held positions at The Warburg Institute (‘Bilderfahrzeuge’ Research Group), UCL, and the Leo Baeck Institute.

He has published extensively on the history of antiquarianism (Kunst am Ursprung. Das Nachleben der Bilder und die Souveränität des Antiquars (Bielefeld: transcript, 2014)), late 19th-century German art historiography (Wölfflins Bild-Körper. Ideal und Scheitern kunsthistorischer Anschauung (Zurich/Berlin: diaphanes, 2011; Aby Warburg. Fragmente zur Ausdruckskunde, co-ed. (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2015)), and art history and migration (Migrating Histories of Art. Self-Translations of a Discipline, co-ed. (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2019).

His current research focuses on the role of environmental discourses for Neoclassical and Romantic art and art theory. Hans is particularly interested in the reception of Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s climate theory in 18th and 19th-century art and archaeology, and its consequences for neoclassical geographies of art, culture, and the “Greek ideal”. He also maintains an active interest art historiography, particularly the work of Aby Warburg.

He is currently pursuing several book projects:

— A new biography of Aby Warburg (under contract with Reaktion Books)

— A book on climatology, landscape, and catastrophism in early 19th century European art

— An edited volume, Under the Greek Sky: Taste and the Reception of Classical Art After Winckelmann (with Katherine Harloe, Daniel Orrells, Amy Smith, and Fiona Gatty) – the outcome of a series of workshops in London, Reading, and Oxford, held on the occasion of Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s 250th anniversary in 2017.

Teaching 2019/20


BA1 Topic Course: Neoclassical Architecture and Design in London

BA1 Foundations

BA2 Frameworks for Interpretation (blocks on Formalism and Visual Culture)

BA3 Lessons in Critical Interpretation

BA3 course: Under the Greek Sky: Climate, Landscape, and the Quest for Classicism

Recent publications (selection):



Kunst am Ursprung. Das Nachleben der Bilder und die Souveränität des Antiquars (Bielefeld: transcript, 2014).

Wölfflins Bild-Körper. Ideal und Scheitern kunsthistorischer Anschauung (Berlin/Zürich: diaphanes, 2011).


Edited Volumes

Migrating Histories of Art. Self-Translations of a Discipline, ed. together with Maria Teresa Costa (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter), 2019.

Aby Warburg, Fragmente zur Ausdruckskunde, ed. together with Ulrich Pfisterer (Gesammelte Schriften: Studienausgabe Vol. IV) (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2015).


Articles and Book chapters

“’A very specialised subject’: Art History in Britain”, in Insiders/Outsiders. Refugees from Nazi Europe and their Contribution to British Visual Culture, ed. by Monica Bohm-Duchen (London: Lund Humphries, 2019), 97-103.

“Seductive Foreignness. Gottfried Kinkel at UCL,” in Migrating Histories of Art. Self-Translations of a Discipline, ed. by Maria Teresa Costa and Hans Christian Hönes (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2019), 149-164; 218-222.

“Warburg’s Positivism. Confessions of a Truffle Pig,” in Oxford Art Journal 3.1 (2018), 361-379.

“Gegen Einfluss: Geniale Sturzfluten”, in Einfluss, Strömung Quelle. Aquatische Metaphern in der Kunstgeschichte, ed. by Ulrich Pfisterer and Christine Tauber (Bielefeld: transcript, 2018), 75-95.

“Kunst in der Dachrinne. Friedrich Oliviers introspektives Gemälde Noahs Einzug in die Arche“, in Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburgs Vermächtnis und die Zukunft der Ikonologie, ed. by Andreas Beyer et al. (Berlin: Wagenbach, 2018), 202-211.

“Die Sümpfe der Schweiz. Klimatheorie und Ursprungssuchen”, in Winckelmann und die Schweiz, ed. by Anderas Beyer, Max Kunze et al. (Petersberg: Michael Imhof, 2018), 99-107.

“Paper monuments for Antiquaries (Caylus, Winckelmann, D’Hancarville): Metahistorical Interventions,” Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte LXIII/LXIV (2017) (special issue “Der Arkadenhof der Universitaet Wien und die Tradition der Gelehrtenmemoria in Europa, ed. by Ingeborg Schemper-Sparholz, Martin Engel, Andrea Mayr and Julia Ruediger), 257-268.

“Prehistoric Hunting Magic. Fateful years of a hypothesis,” in Hunting without weapons. On the pursuit of images, ed. by Maurice Sass (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2017, 185-201.

“Speculative Science. Aby Warburg and Probability Theory,” Philosophy of Photography 8.1 (2017), 129-137.

“Re-Connecting with Culture. A Reply to Whitney Davis,” Estetika LIV/X (2017), 258-266.

“Allegory, Ornament, and Prehistory’s ‘secret influence’,” in Idols and Museum Pieces The Nature of Sculpture, its Historiography and Exhibition History 1640-1880, ed. by Caroline van Eck (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2017), 115-126; 238-241.

“Posing Problems. George Kubler’s Prime Objects,” in Journal of Visual Art Practice 15.2-3 (2016), 261-269.

““Enlivening and – Dividing”. An Aporia of Illumination,” Contemporaneity. Historical Presence in Visual Culture 4 (2015), 1-23.

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