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Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series. Series I: Teaching Materials, 1936-1973; Subseries I.1. Columbia University, 1957-1973; Subseries I.2. University of Kansas, 1955-1957; Subseries I.3. Other Universities, 1960s; Subseries I.4. Notes and Materials -- Other Scholars; Series II. Medieval Manuscript Research Materials, 1965-1973.
The Robert Branner Papers include material related to the art history courses Branner taught, and to the scholarly research he conducted regarding 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts.
The teaching material includes bibliographies, chronologies, slide lists, lecture notes, syllabi, class lists, notes, sketches, and student papers. Also included are notes Branner took during classes or lectures he attended, and from papers that he read. Scholars represented in his notes include Jurgis Baltrušaitis, Jean Bony, Sumner Crosby, Henri Focillon, Louis Grodecki, Julius Held, George Kubler and Charles Seymour Jr.
The scholarly-research material Branner accumulated based on his study of 13th and 14th century manuscripts includes notes, correspondence, and photocopies or photographs of pages from manuscripts. Many of the folders also contain annotations written by his wife, Shirley Branner.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
Three folders (Box 1, folders 13 and 18, and box 2, folder 1) which contain graded, student papers, are restricted. The folders in Box 1 are restricted until 2039; the folder in Box 2 is restricted until 2049. The remainder of the collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Robert Branner papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
No accruals are expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Alix Ross 2007.
2008-12-02 File created.
2009-01-15 xml document instange created by Patrick Lawlor
2009-05-20 xml document instange created by Catherine N. Carson
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Robert Branner (1927-1973), Columbia University professor of art history, was an expert on French Gothic architecture, sculpture, and illuminated manuscripts. Born and raised in New York, Branner was the son of former vaudeville troupers, Martin Michael Branner and Edith Fabbrini. His father, Mike Branner was also a cartoonist and creator of the comic strip"Winnie Winkle, the Breadwinner.".
Branner's undergraduate studies at Yale University were interrupted when he was drafted into the United States Army in 1945. He served in Europe and it was there that his interest was piqued in what would become his lifelong work: the study of French Gothic art and architecture. In 1946 Branner returned to civilian life, and to Yale from which he received both his B.A. in Classics in 1948, and his Ph.D. in Art History in 1953. Branner's mentors and colleagues at Yale included Sumner McKnight Crosby, Jean Bony and Louis Grodecki. During his Yale years Branner also studied at the École des Chartres and the Institut d'Art et Archaéologie, and led the excavation work of Bourges Cathedral from 1950-1952. Upon graduation from Yale, Branner married Shirley Prager, a librarian.
Branner began his teaching career at Yale, where he was an instructor from 1952 to 1953, but the bulk of Branner's career, excepting only brief stints at the University of Kansas (1954-1957) and Johns Hopkins University (1969-1971), was spent at Columbia University. Branner taught Art History at Columbia from 1957 until his death in 1973; he became a full professor in 1966 and was the department chair from 1968-1969.
From 1964-1966 Branner served as the director and editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Branner was also a member of the Société Française d'Archéologie and of the Société Nationale des Antiquaires. Over the years Branner's work was funded by Fulbright and Marshall-Allison grants, as well as by the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Association and the Council on Research in the Humanities of Columbia University.
"Burgundian Gothic Architecture", Branner's first monograph was published in 1960. By 1969 he had authored"Gothic Architecture""La Cathedrale de Bourges et sa Place dans l'Architecture Gothique""Chartres Cathedral", and his most renowned work"St. Louis and the Court Style in Gothic Architecture". Although Branner's initial academic interest was the study of Gothic architecture, he spent his final years studying 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts. "Manuscript Paintings in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis; a Study of Styles", published posthumously, was the culmination of that research.
Shirley Prager Branner's "A Bibliography and Index to the Works of Robert Branner." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 34, no. 3 (October 1975): 167-172 provides a comprehensive list of Branner's work. In 1973 Robert Branner died from complications following heart surgery.