Eva Frodl-Kraft (1916-2011): a tribute by Richard Marks

It is with great regret that we announce the death on 1 May of Professor Eva Frodl-Kraft, one of the founders of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi project and a medieval art historian of international renown. Born in Vienna, Eva studied at the University there and during the Second World War supervised the photographic division of the Institut für Denkmalpflege. In 1945 she joined the Institut für Osterreichische Kunstforschung am Bundesdenkmalamt, where she became heavily engaged in research on and the conservation of medieval glass in Austria; in 1970 she was appointed as head of the Institut and between 1983 and 1987 served as President of the International CVMA, on the history of which she wrote articles in 1998 and 2004.

Despite her onerous official duties, over five decades Eva published extensively on the history, technique and conservation of medieval glass, including two of the four CVMA volumes which have to date appeared for Austria (1962 and 1972) and a standard work, Die Glasmalerei: Entwicklung, Technik, Eigenart (1970).  Many of her articles were ground-breaking, for example, her study of Cistercian grisaille designs published in the Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte (1965). Not only is it the publications that make Eva’s contribution to the study of medieval stained glass immense, it is also the policy of minimal intervention in conservation established in Austria and her support of
the CVMA Technical (now Conservation) Committee which have set the benchmark for the medium.

Although readers of Vidimus will be interested primarily in her work on stained glass, it would be wrong to overlook Eva’s innovatory policies as head of the Institut für Osterreichische Kunstforschung in regard to the recording of buildings and works of art, which included a refashioning of the Dehio volumes as inventories.

Eva was an individual who combined a formidable intellect with drive and determination as well as profound learning. She was no respecter of status or position when it came to scholarly debate: the sole determinant was the quality of the argument.  This could extend into the political sphere. During the 1989 CVMA Colloquium in Erfurt, at the time when the regime in the German Democratic republic was still in control, although beginning to crumble, I recall Eva publicly taking to task the Deputy Minister of Culture for the refusal to let an eminent East German scholar accept an honorary degree from a West Berlin university. I first encountered her in the early 1970’s as a stained glass neophyte; subsequently my initial feelings of respect and admiration came to be supplemented by affection; she was very kind and supportive to me and I am indebted to her in many different ways.

Eva will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her, but her memory will live on in her scholarship and contribution to the preservation of Austria’s artistic heritage.
Richard Marks

A bibliography of Professor Frodl-Kraft’s work can be found at http://www.cvma.at/frodl_kraft.php

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