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Gertrud Bing (1892–1964)

Author of Fritz Saxl (1890-1948): A Biographical Memoir

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Gertrud Bing attended the Lyceum in Hamburg and received an abitur from the Heinrich-Hertz Realgymnasium in 1916. She attended the universities of Munich and Hamburg, concentrating in philosophy. She received her PhD in 1921 with a dissertation on Lessing and Leibniz, under the supervision of Ernst Cassirer. The following year, she began working as a librarian at what was then called the Warburg Library, founded by private scholar-art historian Abraham "Aby" Warburg. She would remain with the institution for the rest of her life. In 1924, she became Warburg's personal research assistant. The Nazi rise to power in 1933 threatened the survival of the Warburg Institute. Bing and Fritz Saxl, now life partners, arranged with the Courtauld Institute of Art to move the Institute's enormously valuable collections to safety in London, and settled there themselves. Prof. Saxl served as director and Bing as assistant director. The couple also worked tirelessly to sponsor and find jobs for other art historians fleeing Nazi Germany. At the beginning of World War II, Gertrud Bing drove an ambulance for the Auxilliary Ambulance Service until she was dismissed as an "enemy alien." Bing and Saxl's home in Dulwich, London, was open to many scholars from around the world throughout their lives. In 1948, Prof. Saxl died and was succeeded as director of the Warburg by Henri Frankfort. Gertrud Bing then succeeded Frankfort after his sudden death in 1954. She also served as Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition at the University of London.
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