We have subtitled this book “An Experiment,” not in order to limit our responsibility but in order to characterize the intention of this study: we wish to record a series of questions without claiming to offer definitive answers.
External reasons, most of all considerations of length, have forced us to renounce any idea of completeness. From the wealth of material available, we have made a selection that appeared to us sufficient to document our arguments and justify our assumptions. Other reasons deriving from the material itself enjoined restraint: many of the relationships which we discovered in the course of our research have led to fields which are not accessible from where we start—the history of art.
The method adopted in this book is, as far as was possible, strictly historical. We have not thought it necessary to do more than refer summarily and in passing to the psychological interpretations suggested by historical connections. One of us (Kris), to whom the relationships examined in this book were in fact first suggested by the study of psychology, intends in a different place to go more deeply into the psychological interpretation of the material presented here.1 Kris published the paper announced here in two versions: once in German as “Zur Psychologie älterer Biographik dargestellt an der des Künstlers,” in Imago, 21:320–44, 1935; and in a revised form in English in his book Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art (1952, pp. 64–84) in the chapter entitled “The Image of the Artist: A Psychological Study of the Role of Tradition in Ancient Biographies.”
With regard to the literature on the history of art, we have gratefully followed a school whose most distinguished exponents are Franz Wickhoff, Julius von Schlosser, Aby Warburg, and Erwin Panofsky.
We should like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped us with suggestions and advice. We feel particularly indebted to H. Gomperz, L. Planiscig, and K. Rathe (Vienna), F. Saxl (London), J. von Schlosser and H. Tietze (Vienna), and above all to our friend E. Gombrich (Vienna), who gave us his unwavering support.
Ernst Kris, Otto Kurz
Vienna, July 1934