Émile Mâle

Émile Mâle (French: [emil mɑl]; 2 June 1862 – 6 October 1954) was a French art historian, one of the first to study medieval, mostly sacral French art and the influence of Eastern European iconography thereon. He was a member of the Académie française, and a director of the Académie de France à Rome.


Mâle was born in Commentry, Auvergne. A pupil at the École normale supérieure, he received his degree in 1886. He taught rhetoric at Saint-Étienne, then at the University of Toulouse. He received his doctorate in 1899. Having taught a course in the history of Christian art at the Sorbonne since 1906, he held the chair in history of art there from 1912. He was the successor to Louis Duchesne as head of the French Academy in Rome, 1923-1937. Among Mâle's many contributions to the understanding of the art of bygone eras were his explanations of iconography and the use of allegory in religious art.[1]

In particular, his doctoral thesis on the Gothic art of France (revised over three editions) L'Art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France (1899) translated into English as The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century from the third edition of 1910 (or omitting "The Gothic Image" from title, especially in the US) remains in print.

He died in Fontaine-Chaalis, Oise.




  1. Mâle, Émile, Religious Art from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century, edited with new material by Mâle, The Noonday Press, New York, 1959

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