Julius Held, 97; Art Historian, Expert on Rubens, Rembrandt

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Julius Held, 97, art historian and educator at Barnard College who was expert on Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck, died Dec. 22 at his home in Bennington, Vt., of causes associated with aging.

Educated at the universities of Heidelberg, Berlin, Vienna and Freiburg, the native of Mosbach, Germany, served an apprenticeship in art restoration.

He was working at the Berlin Museum when the Nazis came to power in 1933, forcing him to flee to the United States the next year. He began his American teaching career at New York University and went to Barnard College in 1937, where he remained until his retirement in 1971. For the next 10 years, he was a visiting professor at Williams College.

Held gained international recognition through his writing and frequent calls for his consultation and authentication of 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish art. His two-volume 1980 work, “The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens,” remains a landmark in determining original works from an era when assistants contributed to artists’ major works.


Among Held’s other books are “Rubens, Selected Drawings” in 1959, “Rembrandt’s ‘Aristotle’ and Other Rembrandt Studies” in 1969 and, with Donald Posner, “17th and 18th Century Art: Baroque Painting, Sculpture and Architecture” in 1971. Held also wrote widely for such periodicals as the Art Bulletin and the Art Quarterly.