Skip to main content

Edgar Wind Papers


  • How to

The papers which form Edgar Wind’s private archive span his eventful life and work between Germany, the USA and the UK, and the many personal and professional contacts he established on both sides of the Atlantic, including (art history) scholars and intellectuals of their times, but also painters, writers, patrons, curators and other members of the arts scene.

The archive includes biographical papers and personal correspondence from 1918 onwards, with references to Hamburg University in the 1920 and early 1930s, to the Bibliothek Warburg, Hamburg, later the Warburg Institute in London, to Edgar Wind's years in the USA, 1939-1954, to the establishment and development of the Department of the History of Art at the University of Oxford from 1955, and to Edgar Wind’s legacy in Oxford and beyond as furthered after his death by his wife Margaret through keen advocacy and generous bequests.

Edgar Wind’s scholarly work is represented by a complete collection of his published works with related research materials and correspondence. His eclectic research interests are further reflected by his comprehensive unpublished scholarly papers, covering not only his main fields of study such as iconography and symbolism in Renaissance art, and eighteenth century English art, but also a wide range of other topics from architecture via French painting to modern art.

Margaret Wind, following her husband’s death, kept adding to the papers. She collected articles and other materials relating to Edgar Wind’s life and work, acquired photocopies of papers by and about Edgar Wind held in other archives, added her own notes and summaries, and continued correspondence. As the executrix of her husband’s literary estate Margaret Wind worked closely with scholars to posthumously edit, publish, re-publish or translate a number of Edgar Wind’s scholarly papers. The correspondence, drafts, proofs and other papers relating to these publishing projects dating from the 1970s to the early 2000s, as well as papers relating to research into Edgar Wind’s biography, are part of this archive.


  • Creation: 1893-2003


45.0 Linear metres (271 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • German
  • French
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Greek, Modern (1453-)

English and German, with use of French, Italian, Latin, Greek.

Conditions Governing Access

Material of a sensitive personal nature is closed. Closure periods also apply where business interests of third parties are concerned. Restrictions are indicated in the catalogue as (=Res.).

Conditions Governing Use

The literary rights to the Edgar Wind Papers are held by the Literary Executors appointed by Margaret Wind in her will. Requests for permission to publish from the Edgar Wind Papers should be directed to the Literary Executors c/o the Bodleian Library.

Restrictions on producing photocopies or any other form of reproduction may apply for copies of material obtained from other archives. This is indicated in the catalogue under 'Restrictions on Use'.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries (followed by shelfmark and folder number, e.g. MS. Wind 1, file 1)

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Wind 1-271

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6129, 12924


Papers of the philosopher and art historian Edgar Wind (1900-1971), with papers added by his wife Margaret Wind (1915-2006).

Biographical / Historical

Edgar Marcel Wind was born in Berlin 14 May, 1900, as one of two children of the Argentinian merchant Maurice Delmar Wind and his Romanian wife Laura Szilard. Wind attended Kaiser-Friedrich-Schule in Berlin-Charlottenburg, and in 1918 went on to read classics, philosophy and art history at the University of Berlin. In 1918 he moved first to Freiburg, attending lectures by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, then to Vienna, being taught by Max Dvořák, Julius von Schlosser and Josef Strzygowski. In 1920 he turned to the newly founded Hamburg University, where, supervised by Erwin Panofsky and Ernst Cassirer, he completed his dissertation Ästhetischer und kunstwissenschaftlicher Gegenstand: ein Beitrag zur Methodologie der Kunstgeschichte in 1922.

In 1927 Wind returned to Hamburg, becoming Aby Warburg's personal research assistant at the Bibliothek Warburg. Following the completion of his Habilitationschrift Das Experiment und die Metaphysik in 1930, Wind became Privatdozent at Hamburg University, where he produced his first major art historical work, Humanitätsidee and heroisiertes Portrait in der englischen Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts (1932, reprinted in translation in the posthumous collection Hume and the Historic Portrait, 1986).

Due to his Jewish extraction, Wind was dismissed from his post at Hamburg University shortly after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. At the same time, Nazi antisemitism endangered the Bibliothek Warburg, and Wind came to play a decisive role in the Bibliothek's transfer to London in 1934. From 1934 he was deputy director of the Warburg Institute, and with Rudolf Wittkower in 1937 became founding editor of the Journal of the Warburg Institute. Wind published his first iconographical studies of Renaissance art, and lectured extensively on the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. Some of his studies were posthumously published as The Religious Symbolism of Michelangelo (2001).

At the outbreak of the war in 1939 Wind was on sabbatical leave in the United States, where he unexpectedly remained, widely lecturing at museums and academic institutions, and in 1940 becoming lecturer at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. From 1942, he was professor of art at the University of Chicago, then was appointed Neilson research professor at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts in 1944. At the end of the war, Wind chose to remain at Smith College as professor of philosophy and art. He developed his studies into Renaissance art, publishing on the Sistine Ceiling (1947) and Giovanni Bellini's Feast of the Gods (1948), and also engaged in debates about contemporary art and philosophy. In 1953 he organised, and contributed to, a symposium on art and morals.

In 1954 Wind was invited to give the Chichele Lectures at All Souls College in Oxford, choosing 'Art and scholarship under Julius II' as his subject. When the Oxford chair in the history of art was created in 1955, Wind, who had been in touch with Oxford scholars such as Richard Livingston, Ernest Jacob, Maurice Bowra and Isaiah Berlin since the 1930s, was appointed to it, also becoming a professorial fellow at Trinity College. In the following years, Wind was the driving force in establishing art history as a discipline in Oxford, arguing for the creation of a new department with its own research library. He applied his cultural historical approach to the study of art, giving hugely popular lectures on a wide range of subjects, including Leonardo and Michelangelo, but, with a more interdisciplinary approach and in collaboration with other scholars (Stuart Hampshire, Austin Gill, Humphrey Sutherland and John Sparrow), also extending his studies to Kant and Hegel, Manet and Mallarmé, and Renaissance poetry. During his years in Oxford, Wind published the two works for which he is best known: Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (first published 1959, revised edition 1967) and Art and Anarchy (1963 - originally given as the Reith Lectures in 1960). In 1967, Wind retired from his chair at Oxford, dedicating his time to working on a book about Michelangelo's theological sources, and publishing a shorter work on Giorgione's Tempesta (1969). Edgar Wind died from leukaemia, from which he had been suffering since 1965, on 12 September 1971.

Based on the entry for Edgar Wind in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by Ben Thomas, 2004. Also see Dictionary of Art Historians: Wind, Edgar [Marcel].

Margaret Wind was born in Rochester, New York, 25 August 1915 as the daughter of the German physicist G. A. Hermann Kellner and his wife Margarethe, née Goetze, who had emigrated to the United States. After obtaining a B.A. at the University of Rochester 1937, she went on to Mills College, California, where she met her future husband, Edgar Wind, there on a lecture tour. From 1940, she served as Edgar Wind's research assistant, working with him at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and other institutions with which he became affiliated. In May 1942 they married.

After Edgar Wind's death in 1971, Margaret Wind became his literary executrix and the driving force behind the posthumous publication of many of Wind’s papers. She dedicated more than 30 years to advocating for Edgar Wind's legacy in Oxford and for making the significance of art historical and philosophical work more widely known. Her donations, together with funding secured from the Louise Crane Foundation, went into the Wind Benefaction, which under Margaret Wind's auspices helped to fund work on Edgar Wind's private and scholarly papers, research on his life and work, and new editions and translations of his publications. Margaret Wind also took a leading role in the establishment of the Wind Room, which opened at the Sackler Library in 2001 and houses the collection of books that Edgar Wind had acquired for the History of Art Library during his tenure as Professor at Oxford.

Margaret Wind died in Oxford in 2006.


The arrangement Margaret Wind gave to the papers was kept, with papers previously unsorted or obviously misplaced during previous use now filed in the appropriate place.

The papers are arranged in six series:

  1. Biographical Papers: Papers relating to Edgar Wind's life, with focus on his professional life and academic career. Original documents with many notes and related papers later added by Margaret Wind.
  2. Collections: Papers relating to private collections of pieces of art, antiques, books and manuscripts at the Winds' flat at Belsyre Court, Oxford. One box only.
  3. Personal Correspondence: Edgar Wind's private and professional correspondence sorted A-Z by correspondent, including collected material, such as articles, photographs and memorabilia, by, or relating to, the correspondents. Also includes personal correspondence by Margaret Wind. For correspondence relating to specific publications or research topics see IV - Published Works and V - Scholarly Papers.
  4. Published Works: Papers relating to Edgar Wind's published works, sorted chronologically by publication. Comprises original publications, in case of articles often in form of an offprint or photocopy, related research material, photographs and illustrations, notes, drafts, corrections and revisions, correspondence and reviews. Also includes papers relating to posthumous publications, new editions and translations. Numbers in brackets ( ) refer to the bibliography of Edgar Wind's publications, a copy of which can be found in MS. Wind 56. Titles of Edgar Wind's published works are given in italics.
  5. Scholarly Papers: Papers relating to Edgar Wind's many research interests, comprising notes, drafts, bibliography, lecture lists, photographs, articles and correspondence, arranged in four sequences: 1. Topics A-Z, 2. Michelangelo, 3. Raphael, 4. English 18th Century Art. An additional sequence 5. Warburg Institute comprises papers relating to Edgar Wind's involvement with, and the history of, the Bibliothek Warburg, Hamburg, later the Warburg Institute in London and its protagonists, as collected by Margaret Wind. Most papers in this sequence are copies of papers held at other archives, notably the Warburg Institute Archive.
  6. Offprints: Offprints received from colleagues and friends, sorted A-Z by author, often with personal dedication to Edgar Wind, but otherwise unannotated. Also includes offprints received by Margaret Wind, 1971-2004.

Original box and folder numbers as given by Margaret Wind are, where applicable, noted in brackets together with the temporary box number assigned at acquisition by the Bodleian Library, e.g. [IV, 24, ii; WIND 84] = original numbering Series IV, Box 24, Folder ii; temporary Bodleian box number WIND 84.

Original folder titles are, where applicable, noted at the beginning of the folder description in quotes, e.g. Folder 3: 'Chair of History of Art, 1955': ...

All cross-references were adopted from the original box contents lists by Margaret Wind.

Other Finding Aids

Previous box contents lists and part-catalogues of the papers, as prepared by Margaret Wind and the archivists and research assistants she employed for work on the collection, can be found in MS. Wind 268-269.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Edgar Wind Papers were bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Margaret Wind, and were transferred from her flat at Belsyre Court, Oxford, to the Bodleian Library following her death in 2006. Further material was supplied by the Wind Literary Executors at a later date.

Related Materials

Edgar Wind’s personal library remained with his widow, Margaret Wind, under whom it continued to grow. Following her death in 2006 the collection was bequeathed to five Oxford libraries: the Sackler Library, the Taylor Institution Library, Trinity College Library, the Bodleian Library and the English Faculty Library. For an overview of Edgar Wind's library collections see the Oxford LibGuide 'Edgar Wind & Oxford'.

The slides made for Wind’s lectures and classes in Oxford are at the History of Art Department’s Visual Resources Centre.

Papers relating to the history of the Bibliothek Warburg Hamburg and the Warburg Institute, including extensive correspondence by and with Edgar Wind, are held at the Warburg Institute Archive.

Papers relating to Wind's Habilitation, time as Privatdozent at Universiät Hamburg and dismissal in 1933 can be found at Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand 361-6 Hochschulwesen – Dozenten- und Personalakten, IV 1191 and IV 3058.

Catalogue of the Edgar Wind Papers
Finding aid prepared by Svenja Kunze
Language of description
Script of description
Catalogued with the generous support of the Committee for the Wind Benefactions
Finding aid note
Cataloguing support provided by Georgia Tutt.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom