Biographical / Historical
Langdon Warner was an archaeologist and historian of Asian art in the first half of the 20th century. He was born on August 1, 1881 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and educated at Harvard University, which he graduated from in 1903. Between acting in various positions at museums across the country, most notably the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Harvard Fogg Museum of Art, he travelled extensively in Asia. Including an 1913-14 trip sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution to explore the possibility of founding an American School of Chinese Archaeology in Beijing. Accompanied by his wife, their journey included visits to Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and Indochina. He spoke with scholars, administrators, and officials, and travelled to museums and archaeological sites. He compiled a two-part report: a summary of his travels and a series of recommendations for the proposed school.
During World War II, Warner taught a course on Japanese language, culture, and history to Civil Affairs Officers and acted as a Special Consultant for the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program, the so-called "Monuments Men." He created the Official List of Monuments for Japan, China, Korea, and Thailand. Warner spent the summer of 1946 working as an Expert Consultant to the Arts and Monuments Division of the Civil Information and Education Section under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Upon his return to Massachusetts, he resumed working at the Fogg Museum of Art until his retirement in 1950. During his career, he wrote numerous books on Asian art such as The Enduring Art of Japan, The Long Old Road in China, and Japanese Sculpture of the Tempyo Period: Masterpieces of the Eighth Century. Warner died on June 9, 1955 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was posthumously awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasures by the Japanese government for his efforts to preserve Japanese art and monuments during and after the war.