Papers of Professor David Talbot Rice (1903-1972)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Papers of Professor David Talbot Rice are mainly notes for Fine Art lectures in the 20th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Talbot Rice was born in Gloucestershire on 11 July 1903. He was educated at Eton and then went to Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied Archaeology and Anthropology, graduating in 1925. Prior to joining the British Academy expedition to Istanbul (then Constantinople) and excavating there 1927-1932 and 1952-1954, he had been part of the staff of the Oxford Field Museum archaeological excavation at Kish in Iraq. The study of the art of Byzantium was one of his chief interests and he travelled extensively in the Near East to pursue this. He was involved in various expeditions to Cyprus, Asia Minor, Iraq and Iran. In 1932, Rice was appointed Lecturer in Byzantine and Near Eastern Art at the newly founded Courtauld Institute in London. Then, in 1934, he was appointed to the Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Art at Edinburgh University which he held almost until his death. During the Second World War, Rice worked with the Intelligence Directorate of the War Office becoming head of the Near East section, but was later transferred to the Special Operations Executive serving in North Africa and Italy with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. After the war he continued to build up the Department of Fine Art at Edinburgh University and he served on a number of national committees. He was an Honorary member of the Royal Scottish Academy, a member of the Independent Television Authority, 1958 to 1963, a member of the Scottish Arts Council, 1963 to 1968, and a member of the reviewing Committee on the export of works of art, 1967 until his death. During his service as Professor he produced a series of scholarly and popular works on the subject of Byzantine and Islamic art, and in 1958 he was responsible for a major exhibition of Byzantine art for the Edinburgh International Festival which later went on to London. His publications include  The birth of western painting (1930),  Byzantine glazed pottery (1930),  Byzantine art (1935),  Byzantine painting and developments in the West before A.D. 1200 (1948),  English art, 871-1100 (1952),  Art of the Byzantine era (1963), and  Byzantine art, the last phase (1968). In January 1967, Rice was appointed Vice-Principal of Edinburgh University. He was awarded the MBE in 1943, and the CBE in 1968. Professor David Talbot Rice died at Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire, on 12 March 1972.

Conditions Governing Access

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Note

The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) The university portraits, Second series, compiled by John H. Burnett [et al.], Edinburgh: Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., 1986. (2) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.23. 1967-1968, p.7, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. (3) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.25. 1971-1972, p.338, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. (4) Who's who 1968-1969, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1968.

Other Finding Aids

An important finding aid is the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives. Additions to the typed slips in sheaf binders were made until 1987.

Related Material

The Index to Manuscripts shows a reference to an address given at the memorial service to David Talbot Rice at Gen. 2180/13.

Additional Information

The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) The university portraits, Second series, compiled by John H. Burnett [et al.], Edinburgh: Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd., 1986. (2) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.23. 1967-1968, p.7, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. (3) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.25. 1971-1972, p.338, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. (4) Who's who 1968-1969, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1968.

Geographical Names