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Helen Gardner (1878–1946) was an American art historian and educator. Her Art Through the Ages remains a standard text for American art history classes.

Gardner was born in Manchester, New Hampshire and attended school in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. In 1901 she graduated with a degree in classics from the University of Chicago.[1] After an interval as a teacher, she returned to the same university to study art history, and received a master's degree in 1918. In 1920 she began lecturing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she would spend the rest of her career, with the exception of short appointments at UCLA and the University of Chicago.[2]

Her major work, Art Through the Ages, was the first single-volume textbook to cover the entire range of art history from a global perspective. Frequently revised, it remains a standard textbook at American schools and universities. In 1932 she also published Understanding the Arts, an art appreciation text directed toward educators.


  • Art through the Ages: an Introduction to its History and Significance. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1926.  
  • Understanding the Arts. Chicago: Harcourt, Brace. 1932.  


  1. ^ Kader, Themina (2000). "The Bible of Art History: Gardner's Art Through the Ages". Studies in Art Education 41 (2): 164–177. doi:10.2307/1320661. Retrieved 2009-01-14.  
  2. ^ Sorensen, Lee. "Helen Gardner". Dictionary of Art Historians. Retrieved 16 January 2009.  


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