Charles Scribner III was born in 1951 in Washington, DC, and grew up in New York City, where he attended the Buckley School before following family footsteps to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire and Princeton University, where he stayed on to receive a PhD in art history in 1977. He taught Baroque art in Princeton’s department of Art and Archaeology, where he later served on its advisory council, then joined his father at the family publishing house Charles Scribner’s Sons, founded in 1846. With Talleyrand as his model, he remained at Scribners through three changes in ownership (Macmillan, Maxwell, and Viacom), overseeing the publication of its literary classics. He was a commentator for television documentaries on Edith Wharton (BBC/PBS), Fitzgerald and Hemingway (A&E Biography).
As an art historian, Scribner has lectured widely on Baroque art at universities and museums, including the Metropolitan, National Gallery, Getty, Frick, and Morgan Library. For Rubens’s 400th anniversary in 1977 he made a television program on Rubens’s Eucharist tapestries (PBS), the subject of his first book The Triumph of the Eucharist (1982). His monographs on Rubens (1989) and Bernini (1991) were published by Abrams in its Masters of Art series, followed by his books on art and faith: The Shadow of God (2006), Home by Another Route (2016), and Sacred Muse (2023). But Scribner’s favorite assignment was an undercover operation for U.S. Customs special agents in Miami Beach in 1991 to trap art thieves and recover a Rubens oil sketch stolen from a museum in Spain, for which he was awarded the Yorktown Certificate by the Treasury Department and in 2003 appeared in a television documentary “The Rubens Robbers” (BBC/Bravo) about the successful mission. He is married to Ritchie Markoe Scribner, an artist and museum educator; they have two sons, Charles IV and Christopher, and three grandchildren: Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Charles V. He remains rooted to his childhood zip code in New York City.