@Dumbarton Oaks

Der Nersessian, Arax Iskouhi

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Der Nersessian, Arax Iskouhi

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Araxie Takouni Der Nersessian
  • Arax Der Nersessian
  • Der Nersessian, Arax

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1894-(between 1981-1989)


Arax Der Nersessian was the older sister of Armeno-Byzantine art historian Sirarpie Der Nersessian. Like her sister, Arax Der Nersessian was raised and educated amongst an elite Armenian community in early twentieth-century Constantinople, orphaned as a teenager, and forced to flee to Western Europe during the persecutions against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

She was considered artistically gifted and attended the École des Beaux-Arts and the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, where the sisters first settled after leaving Turkey. In 1919 the two moved to Paris where Arax Der Nersessian married her long-time fiancé and distant cousin, architect Zareh Der Nersessian. Separated during the war years, the sisters were reunited in 1947 when Arax moved to Washington DC to live with Sirarpie Der Nersessian after being widowed.

Arax Der Nersessian often served as Sirarpie Der Nersessian’s research assistant, helping with the catalog for the Chester Beatty collection (1958) and on her sister’s 1951-1952 sabbatical to Jerusalem to study the manuscripts of the Armenian Patriarchate, for which Arax Der Nersessian is credited with photographing the manuscripts and making an inventory of the over 2,500 images, which Sirarpie Der Nersessian then contributed to the Dumbarton Oaks’ photograph collection.

Arax Der Nersessian returned to Paris with her sister in 1963 upon Sirarpie Der Nersessian’s retirement from Dumbarton Oaks, where she lived until her death following a long and painful illness, sometime between 1981 and 1989. She is considered to have been Sirarpie Der Nersessian’s closest friend and companion throughout both of their lives.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Der Nersessian, Sirarpie (1896-1989)

Identifier of the related entity

US LCNAF n 79072986

Category of the relationship

is the sibling of

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Arax Der Nersessian is Sirarpie Der Nersessian's older sister.

Control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR (CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

This authority record was created and revised by Anne-Marie Viola on November 7, 2013.


  • English



  • Allen, Jelisaveta Stanojevich. “Sirarpie Der Nersessian (b. 1896): Educator and Scholar in Byzantine and Armenian Art” Women as Interpreters of the Visual Arts, 1820-1979. Ed. Claire Richter Sherman. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1981. Ch. 12. : 329-356.
  • Garsoian, Nina G. “Sirarpie Der Nersessian (1896-1989).” Medieval Scholarship: Biographical Studies on the Formation of a Discipline. Volume 3: Philosophy and the Arts. Ed. Helen Damico. New York, New York: Garland Publishing, 2000. P. 287-305.
  • Passenger ship manifest, http://www.caronia2.info/plc520930.php

Maintenance notes