Professor Robert Suckale, 30 October 1943 to 13 February 2020
It is with great sadness that we record the death of Professor Robert Suckale, one of the most distinguished medievalist art historians of our day.
Born in 1943 in Koenigsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia), Robert Suckale studied art history, classical archaeology and Latin philology in the universities of Bonn, Paris, Munich and Berlin. He was promoted to the chairs of art history at Bamberg University (in 1980) and at the Technical University in Berlin (in 1990), retiring in 2004.
Professor Suckale’s publications show a remarkably wide horizon of interests, both in their method and in their subjects. He wrote with deliberate lucidity. His power to combine novel insight with clarity of expression is evident in his more ‘popular’ works – for example, his History of German Art from Charlemagne to the Present Day (Cologne, 1998), which was revised and republished several times. His many works include: Die gotische Architektur in Frankreich 1130-1270 (with D. Kimpel) (Munich, 1985), Die Hofkunst Kaiser Ludwigs des Bayern (Munich, 1993), Das mittelalterliche Bild als Zeitzeuge (Berlin, 2002), and Die Erneuerung der Malkunst vor Dürer (Petersberg, 2009). But he will remain especially known for his pioneering studies of late medieval art in Eastern Europe, particularly in Prague, Krakow and Budapest.
Professor Suckale’s professional career spanned the period of East and West German division and reunification. In 1990, after reunification of Germany, he helped establish a highly successful Centre for Central European Studies in Leipzig, which welcomed scholars from the old eastern block countries to participate in joint conferences, exhibitions and publications. In doing so he helped to set an agenda for a pan-European history of art.
Professor Suckale’s reputation brought him many honours. He was Directeur d’études at l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris; Visiting professor at Harvard University; Richard Krautheimer Professor at the Biblioteca Hertziana in Rome; and Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. At The Courtauld, we were honoured to award him the degree of Doctor of Literature, Honoris Causa of the University of London in 2011. His sensitive, thought-provoking speech to our students on receiving that degree stimulated a spontaneous and extended standing ovation and will remain forever in our memory.
The Courtauld sends its deepest sympathies to Professor Suckale’s wife, fellow art historian Dr Gude Suckale-Redlefsen, and to all those who were close to him.