Skip to content

Biographical outline

  • Born April 26, 1900 in Vienna, Austria to Leopold and Rosa Kris.  Leopold was a lawyer, and Ernst’s brother Paul later studied law.
  • At the age of eight, Ernst became ill with juvenile rheumatism, which affected his heart and also restricted his motor activities.  During his illness, Ernst’s older cousin, Mrs. Paul Kurth and her lawyer husband promoted Ernst’s interest in the history of art.
  • In 1917, a fuel shortage and weeks of frost forced the schools to close.  During this period, Ernst attended seminar discussions held by Julius von Schlosser in the Department of Art History at the University of Vienna. 
  • Emanuel Loewy, a famous classical archaeologist and Sigmund Freud’s friend, was one of Ernst’s professors.
  • At the age of twenty-two, Ernst completed his Ph.D. in Art History (Der Stil “rustique”) and was appointed assistant curator of the Department for Sculpture and Applied Art at the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum.  Ernst collaborated with Fritz Eichler to compile the Museum’s famous collection of cameos and intaglios.
  • In 1927, Ernst married Marianne Rie, M.D, whose father Oscar Rie, M.D. was Sigmund Freud’s old friend and pediatrician to Freud’s children.  Marianne introduced Ernst to Freud, who was particularly fond of cameos and intaglios.  Ernst and his wife began careers as analysts, and about this time, he began to publish psychoanalytic papers.
  • In 1928, Ernst became an active member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, and worked closely with Freud and other analysts.
  • In 1929, Ernst published his two- volume work, Meister und Meisterwerke der Steinschneidekunst in der Italienischen Renaissance, which remains the standard work on the topic of gem carving.  In the same year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York invited him to study the Milton Weil Collection of Postclassical Cameos, and in 1931, he wrote and published the catalog for the collection.
  • Between 1930 and 1938, Ernst worked both as assistant curator at the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum and as a lecturer and instructor at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute.
  • Beginning in 1933, Ernst published a series of papers on applied psychoanalysis.  In the same year, Freud asked him to become editor of Imago, and Ernst asked Robert Waelder, Ph.D. to be joint editor.  Ernst terminated his study of medicine, which he began only half a year earlier.  Ernst continued to analyze patients, teach at the Vienna Psychoanalystic Institue, and work on the Museum Collection.
  • In 1938, after Hitler occupied Austria, the Krises and their two children (Anna Wolff, M.D., b. Vienna, November 18, 1931; Harvard Medical School, 1957, and Anton Kris, M.D., b. Vienna, July 26, 1934; Harvard Medical School, 1959), followed Freud to England.
  • In England, until 1940, Ernst was a lecturer and training analyst at the London Institute of Psychoanalysis.  Working with Edward Bibring, Anna Freud and Marie Bonaparte, Ernst acted as one of the editors of Freud’s Gesammelte Werke (the German-language edition of the Collected Works published in London) and edited Freud’s letters to Wilhelm Fliess.
  • From 1939 to 1940, Ernst worked in the British Broadcasting Corporation analyzing Nazi radio broadcasts.  In 1940, Ernst was sent to Canada and then to the United States to work in a similar capacity.
  • In September 1940, New York became the permanent residence of the Kris family, and Ernst became a visiting professor at the New School for Social Research.
  • In April 1941, Ernst began and directed the Research Project on Totalitarian Communication with Hans Speier.
  • In 1943, Ernst lectured at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and taught at the College of the City of New York.
  • In 1946, Ernst became an Untied States citizen, a fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, and an associate of the American Psychological Association.
  • In 1950, Ernst wrote the introduction to Freud’s On the Origins of Psychoanalysis.
  • Ernst became one of the founders and managing editors of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, a periodical devoted to psychoanalytic child psychology.
  • The last twelve years of Ernst’s life focused on psychoanalytic theory, ego psychology, early childhood development, and a theory of psychoanalytic technique.
  • Ernst served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
  • Ernst founded three research groups.  First, the Child Study Center at Yale University Medical School, where he was a Clinical Professor; the research consisted of a longitudinal study of early childhood development.  Second, the observations of creative activities of children at Yale University led to the Gifted Adolescent Research Project at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.  Finally, Ernst acted as the chairman of the Postgraduate Study Group of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, which initially consisted of the fourth-year class, and then later all recent graduates of the New York Institute.
  • On February 27, 1957 in New York at the age of fifty-six, Ernst died of a coronary thrombosis.


Alexander, F., Eisenstein, S. & Grotjahn, M.  (Eds.).  (1966).  Psychoanalytic pioneers.  New York:  Basic Books.

Hartmann, H.  (1957).  Ernst Kris (1900-1957).  The psychoanalytic study of the child, 12, 9-15.

Hoffer, W.  (1957).  Obituary Ernst Kris 1900-1957.   International journal of psychoanalysis, 38, 359-362.

Loewenstein, R. M. (1957).  In Memoriam Ernst Kris, Ph.D. 1900-1957.   Journal of the American psychoanalytical association, 5, 741-743.

Ritvo, S.  (1957).  Biography of Ernst Kris.  Psychoanalytic quarterly, 26, 248-250.

English journal, 10.

International encyclopedia of social sciences, 8.

New York Times, (1957, February 28).

%d bloggers like this: