DICTIONARY OF ART HISTORIANS
A Biographical Dictionary of Historic Scholars, Museum Professionals and Academic Historians of Art
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Koch, Robert A[lan] "Bob"
Date born: 1919
Place born: Durham, NC
Date died: November 10, 2011
Place died: Raleigh, NC
Northern Renaissance and prints scholar; Princeton University Art Museum curator and professor 1955-1990. Koch was the son of Frederick Henry Koch (1877-1944), a Harvard-educated folklorist and professor of dramatic literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Loretta Jean Hanigan (Koch) [spellings as "Hannigan" are incorrect]. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a B. A.in 1940, Koch continued there for his MA in art history, graduating in 1942. He was then drafted into the Army during World War II, rising to first lieutenant. Koch was stationed in Germany after the war until 1946 working in the Division of Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives. It was there that he gained his first exposure to the arts of Europe (Hand). After discharge, he received a second master's degree in art history (MFA) from Princeton in 1948. Koch was appointed assistant director of the Princeton Art Museum in 1949. His Ph.D, was awarded from Princeton in 1954 with a dissertation topic on medieval sculpture written under Erwin Panofsky. Koch held a visiting professorship at Princeton Theological Seminary 1954-1956. He joined Princeton University as an assistant professor in the Art Museum in 1955, studying in Belgium as a Fullbright fellow 1956-1957. He rose to associate professor in 1958. He was chair of the board of the College Art Association, 1961-1963. In 1962 he was promoted at the Museum to faculty curator of prints. Koch served on the board of the Mediaeval Academy of America, 1964-1966. In 1966, Koch was named Professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, and faculty curator of prints at the Princeton University Art Museum. In his lifetime, Koch published comparatively little. In 1968 he issued a book on Joachim Patinir. He retired from Princeton University as professor emeritus in 1990 and in later years moved to Raleigh, NC where he died in 2011. His students included James A. Snyder, John O. Hand, Gregory T. Clark, Charles Minott, and J. David Farmer. Letters to his father (during his military posting post-war) are included with his father's papers at the University of North Carolina. He is occasionally confused with the other art historian named Robert Koch, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University who was one year older.
Koch's area of specialty was Northern Renaissance painting and prints. He edited the illustrated re-issue of the Bartsch catalog of Adam von Bartsch in the 1970s. LS
Home Country: United States
Sources: Hand, John Oliver. "Introduction." A Tribute to Robert A. Koch: Studies in the Northern Renaissance. Princeton, NJ : Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1994, pp. ix-xi; Frederick Henry Koch Papers Inventory. Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Southern Historical Collection #4124, http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/k/Koch,Frederick_H.html; personal correspondence, Dorothy Limouze, March 2010, Thomas A Koch, November 2011, and Barbara Ross, January, 2012.
Bibliography: "Selected Bibliography." A Tribute to Robert A. Koch: Studies in the Northern
Renaissance. Princeton, NJ : Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University,
1994, pp. xiii-xiv; [dissertation:] The Central Portal Sculpture of the
Church of Saint-Maurice at Vienne. Princeton, 1954; Joachim Patinir. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1968; Hans Baldung Grien:
Eve, the Serpent and Death/Hans Baldung Grien: Ève, le serpent et la Mort.
Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada/Corporation of the National Museums of