Victor Goloubew

Portrait of Victor   Goloubew

Victor Goloubew (Виктор Викторович Голубев, 1878, Saint-Petersburg, Russia - 1945, Hanoi, Vietnam) was a researcher with EFEO for many years, and the first archeologist to extensively use aerial photography to survey Angkor territory in the 1920s.

A son of Russian aristocrats, he studied linguistics, archaeology and art history, partly influenced by his uncle, Alexandr Golubev, a distinguished sinologist. His PHD thesis dealt with Marivaux's writing. Living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, he befriended Auguste Rodin, who had recently discovered the art of Royal Ballet of Cambodia. The sculptor made a bust of Goloubew's wife, Natalia (Nathalie, nicknamed Donatella by d'Annunzio) Cross (26 Aug.1879, Vyborg, Russia, 1 Nov, 1941, Meudon, France). After Natalia left him for the notorious (and quite sulfurous) poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, Goloubew managed to financially help the bohemian singer-translator praised for her beauty, until her death in poverty in 1941. [see an account of d'Annunzio-Natalia's affair by Jean Despert, 1974]

In 1920, Goloubew went to Angkor with Henri Parmentier and Louis Finot. His research on Banteay Chhmar, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre, Wat Phou or the Bakheng, made him a leading expert in iconography and archeological photography. Earlier, he had founded in Paris the review Ars Asiatica.

He also studied extensively the ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk and the Kulen Mountain, as well as the sites of the Thanh Hóa Province in Vietnam. A close collaborator of George Cœdès, he was appointed Director of the Louis Finot Museum in 1936. The year before, he was awarded the Herbert Giles Prize by Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres for his work, particularly his findings in Angkor Thom.

His political involvement with the Axis forces during Second World War II has tainted his reputation as an archeologist and Khmer civilization specialist.


(with leading scholar George Coedes (center) in Phnom Penh)

Nathalie Cross-Goloubew


A 1929 Goloubew portrait autographed to Albert Sallet (Source AAVH)