Michael Levey

Michael Levey

Sir Michael Vincent Levey, LVO (8 June 1927 – 28 December 2008) was a British art historian and was director of the National Gallery for thirteen years, from 1973 to 1986.


Levey was born in Wimbledon, London, and grew up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. He attended The Oratory School, a Catholic boarding school near Reading. He was called up for National Service in 1945 and served it largely in Egypt. After demobilisation in 1948 Levey went to Exeter College, Oxford to read English; he graduated with first class honours after only two years' study.

In 1951 Levey joined the National Gallery as assistant to the Keeper, Sir Martin Davies. He combined administrative duties with scholarly work, producing his first catalogue, on the Gallery's 18th-century Italian paintings, in 1956. In the 1960s, affordable art books with colour reproductions for the general reader began to appear, and Levey was commissioned to write an overview of Western painting for Thames & Hudson's World of Art series. The resulting book, A Concise History of Painting: From Giotto to Cézanne (1962), remains a classic overview of European art history from the introduction of perspective in Italy to the beginnings of modern art at the start of the 20th century.

From 1963 to 1964 Levey was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University; his lectures were published as From Rococo to Revolution in 1966. The Early Renaissance, written a year later, is considered another milestone in popular art publishing, and was the first non-fiction work to win the Hawthornden Prize for Literature.[1] Levey became deputy Keeper of the National Gallery in 1966, Keeper in 1968, and Director in 1973. He was knighted in 1981.[2]

He relinquished his directorship to care for his wife, the novelist and critic Brigid Brophy, after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985; the disease ultimately claimed her life. Brophy and Levey were married in 1954.

Levey was a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.


  • The German School; National Gallery Catalogues, 1959, National Gallery, London
  • A Concise History of Painting: From Giotto to Cézanne, Thames & Hudson World of Art series (ISBN 0-500-20024-6).
  • Painting at Court, 1971, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.
  • Early Renaissance, 1967, Penguin.
  • The Life & Death of Mozart, 1971, Weidenfeld and Nicolson (ISBN 0-297-00477-8).
  • From Rococo to Revolution: Major Trends in Eighteenth-Century Painting.Thames & Hudson World of Art series


  1. ^ Obituary in The Times, 30 December 2008
  2. ^ Obituary in The Telegraph, 29 December 2008
Academic offices
Preceded by
Ernst Gombrich
Slade Professor of Fine Art,
Cambridge University

Succeeded by
John Pope-Hennessy
Preceded by
Juliet Wilson-Bareau
Slade Professor of Fine Art,
Oxford University

Succeeded by
John Richardson

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michael Levey — (* 8. Juni 1927 in Wimbledon, London, England; † 28. Dezember 2008) war ein britischer Kunsthistoriker und Direktor der National Gallery in London. Leben Levey wuchs in Leigh on Sea in der Grafschaft Essex auf und besuchte die Oratory School, ein …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Levey — ist der Name folgender Personen: Michael Levey (1927–2008), britischer Kunstgeschichtler und Direktor der National Gallery in London Solomon Levey (1794–1833), australischer Siedler und einer der ersten Landeigentümer in Western Australia Stan… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mike Levey — on Amazing Discoveries Born Michael Stephen Levey May 28, 1948(1948 05 28) Died August 2, 2003 …   Wikipedia

  • George Michael Cohan — George M. Cohan George Michael Cohan (* 3. Juli 1878 in Providence, Rhode Island; † 5. November 1942 in New York City) war ein US amerikanischer Schauspieler, Schriftsteller, Komponist, Regisseur und Produzent. Er war ein Pionier des Musical und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • DANBY, MICHAEL — (1955– ), Australian politician. Danby was born and educated in Melbourne, the son of a German Jew who fled to Australia after Kristallnacht. He worked for many years for the Australia Israel Review, a Melbourne based fortnightly magazine of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Marius the Epicurean —   Author(s) Walter Pater Country United Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • Gesuati — Santa Maria del Rosario (English: St Mary of the Rosary), commonly known as I Gesuati, is an 18th century Dominican church in the Sestiere of Dorsoduro, on the Giudecca canal in Venice, northern Italy. It is a well lighted building in classical… …   Wikipedia

  • The Wilton Diptych — double image|right|The Wilton Diptych (left).jpg|175|The Wilton Diptych (Right).jpg|175| The Wilton Diptych (c. 1395–99)tempera on wood, each section 47.5 cm × 29.2 cm. National Gallery, London The Wilton Diptych (c.1395 1399) is a small portable …   Wikipedia

  • Diptyque de Wilton — ██████████80  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • painting, Western — ▪ art Introduction       history of Western painting from its beginnings in prehistoric times to the present.       Painting, the execution of forms and shapes on a surface by means of pigment (but see also drawing for discussion of depictions in …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.