Nisha Rathode (Editor)

David Talbot Rice

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Name  David Rice

David Talbot Rice imagesnpgorguk26432572mw169472jpg
Died  March 12, 1972, Cheltenham, United Kingdom
Books  Art of the Byzantine Era, Byzantine painting
Education  Christ Church, Oxford, Eton College
Similar People  Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, John Heskett, Whitney Chadwick, Timothy Hyman, Sally O'Reilly

David Talbot Rice

David Talbot Rice (11 July 1903 in Rugby – 12 March 1972 in Cheltenham) was an English art historian. His father was "Talbot-Rice" and both he and his wife published using "Talbot Rice" as a surname, but are also sometimes found under "Rice" alone.


David Talbot Rice David Talbot Rice 1903 1972 Find A Grave Memorial

Born in Rugby and brought up in Gloucestershire (England), he was educated at Eton prior to reading archaeology and anthropology at Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford his circle of friends included Evelyn Waugh and Harold Acton as well as his future wife (Elena) Tamara Abelson (1904–1993) whom he was to marry in 1927. She was a Russian émigrée he had first known at Oxford, who was also an art historian, writing on Byzantine and Central Eastern art and other subjects as Tamara Talbot Rice.

Following his graduation Talbot Rice undertook a number of archaeological digs overseas and developed a passion for all things Byzantine. His expertise in the area of Islamic art was recognised when, in 1932, Samuel Courtauld endowed the Courtauld Institute at the University of London and Talbot Rice was among the first appointments, taking up a position as lecturer.

Professor David Talbot Rice was subsequently appointed to the Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh in 1934, a post he held until his death in 1972. In 1937 he gave the Ilchester Lecture, later published as The Beginnings of Russian Icon Painting.

During the Second World War Talbot Rice served with modest distinction as Head of the Near East Section of Military Intelligence (MI3b), which was responsible for Eastern Europe including Yugoslavia but excluding Russia and Scandinavia. Originally commissioned onto the Special List in 1939, he transferred to the Intelligence Corps in 1943. He ended the war with the rank of Major.

When peacetime returned he came back to Scotland and established an Honours degree at the University which combined art history and studio art and is still offered today. His ambition to establish an arts centre in the University was realised posthumously when the Talbot Rice Gallery was founded and named after him.

From 1952 to 1954, he led the excavations of the Great Palace of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey.

Awards and honours

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1968 Birthday Honours.

Selected publications

  • The Birth of Western Painting: a History of Colour, Form, and Iconography Illustrated from the Paintings of Mistra and Mount Athos, of Giotto and Duccio, and of El Greco. London, Routledge, 1930.
  • Byzantine Art. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1935 (last revised edition Penguin, 1968).
  • Byzantine Painting at Trebizond. London, Allen & Unwin, 1936.
  • Russian Icons. London, Penguin Books, 1947.
  • English Art, 871-1100. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1952.
  • The Beginnings of Christian Art. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1957.
  • The Art of Byzantium. London, Thames and Hudson, 1959.
  • Byzantine Icons. London, Faber and Faber, 1959.
  • Constantinople: Byzantium - Istanbul. London: Elek Books, 1965.
  • Dark Ages: the Making of European Civilization. London, Thames and Hudson, 1965.
  • Byzantine Painting: the Last Phase. New York, Dial Press, 1968.
  • Icons and their Dating: a Comprehensive Study of their Chronology and Provenance. London, Thames and Hudson, 1974.
  • References

    David Talbot Rice Wikipedia