Wölfflin, Heinrich(hīn`rĭkh völf`lĭn), 1864–1945, Swiss art historian. Wölfflin's formal stylistic analysis of motifs and composition in art combined cultural history and psychological insight into the creative process to form a complete aesthetic system. His theory of form greatly influenced the development of art criticism. Wölfflin's ideas were spread through his teaching (1893–1934) at the universities of Basel, Berlin, Munich, and Zürich, and through his books, Renaissance und Barock (1888), Classic Art (1899, tr. 1953), and his most celebrated work, Principles of Art History (1915, tr. 1932).
Born June 21, 1864, in Winter-thur; died July 19, 1945, in Zürich. Swiss art critic.
Wölfflin became a professor at the universities of Basel (1893), Berlin (1901), Munich (1912), and Zürich (1924). He developed and masterfully applied a consecutive method of analyzing an artistic style, which he used in his early works to investigate “the psychology of an era” (Renaissance and Baroque, 1888; Russian translation, 1913; and Classical Art, 1899; Russian translation, 1912). Later, under the influence of Neo-Kantianism, Wölfflin further limited the tasks of analysis to the definition of “methods of vision”—systems of abstracted formal categories by which he grasped the characteristics of the art of different eras or peoples (Fundamental Understanding of the History of Art, 1915; Russian translation, 1930; and Italy and the German Concept of Form, 1931; Russian translation, The Renaissance Art of Italy and Germany, 1934).