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Francis L. Richardson

Posted By RSA, Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Ohio State University History of Art Department mourns the death of Francis (Frank) L. Richardson, who died on Sunday, July 12, along with his beloved wife of 50 years, Kathleen Richardson.

Frank, who was born in the Philippines of missionary parents, grew up there and in New England. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Already as a graduate student he was recognized for his exceptional perceptiveness and judgment as a connoisseur, as his wife, Kathy, noted in describing his candidacy exams. She recounted how, ashen faced, he left the examination room to await the result. When his advisor came to congratulate him, he was disbelieving, since he had been unable to identify several of the works. As his advisor explained, this was unsurprising because a portion of the exam had been made up specifically of difficult attribution problems that the members of the committee had hoped Frank might be able to resolve for them.

Although Frank had wide-ranging interests and expertise in many areas, the primary focus of his research was in the art of the Italian Renaissance, particularly Venetian painting and drawing. His book Andrea Schiavone, published in 1980 in the prestigious series, Oxford Studies in the History of Art, dispelled much confusion about this undervalued Venetian artist and, in the words of one reviewer, provided a “brilliant account of Schiavone’s stylistic development.” Moreover, in the process of presenting its authoritative account of the historical and artistic identity of Schiavone, the book established the artist’s signal contribution to the development of Venetian painting practices. The introductory essay for the exhibition catalogue, Splendors of the Renaissance in Venice: Andrea Schiavone among Parmigianino, Tintoretto and Titian (2015), includes sections on only two scholars: Bernard Berenson, the renowned connoisseur and founding figure of Italian Renaissance art history, and Francis Richardson. The former is cited as identifying the artist and compiling the first tentative list of Schiavone’s works, while the latter’s seminal contributions are examined in a section entitled: “L ‘Era’ Richardson.”

Frank was committed to exploring and experiencing the actual objects of his study and much other art as well. Multiple reviewers of Andrea Schiavone noted the author’s deep engagement with the paintings, described by one as demonstrating a “profound firsthand knowledge of and enthusiasm for the original works of art.” Another wrote: “Richardson is an inspired ‘looker’ and writes alluringly of color, texture, paint surface; he has not only given much thought to the process of painting but also to the problems of translating visual creation and visual perception into verbal structures.” These kinds of comments were also reflected in responses to his teaching. One student described Frank as a poetic art historian “who could capture with eloquence the beauty of a work of art.” Several others characterized his lectures as lyrical, and nearly all commented on the time he spent looking, emphasizing the need to “take in the formal properties of an image before ‘learning’ about its meaning or the artist’s place in history.”

The lyrical character of Frank’s lectures was undoubtedly connected to his identity as poet. His poems have been published in numerous poetry journals, in magazines such as The New Yorker, and in collections of his own work, Walking (2007) and What Remains and What Disappears (2017). He was also a revered member of the central Ohio poetry community, and was described by a fellow poet as a giant whose resonant voice will be remembered by all who were fortunate enough to hear it. In addition to these qualities, Frank was loved for his generosity of spirit and encouragement of others.

The lyrical character of Frank’s lectures was undoubtedly connected to his identity as poet. His poems have been published in numerous poetry journals, in magazines such as The New Yorker, and in collections of his own work, Walking (2007) and What Remains and What Disappears (2017). He was also a revered member of the central Ohio poetry community, and was described by a fellow poet as a giant whose resonant voice will be remembered by all who were fortunate enough to hear it. In addition to these qualities, Frank was loved for his generosity of spirit and encouragement of others.

They contributed enormously to the lives of those who knew them and will be deeply missed. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to their son Jon and his family.

—Barbara Haeger, Associate Professor, History of Art, Ohio State University

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John N. King (2 February 1945–13 June 2020)

Posted By RSA, Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Submitted by Mark Rankin, Professor of English, James Madison University

John N. King passed away suddenly on June 13, 2020. From 1967‑69 he was Lecturer in English at Abdullahi Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria. In 1971 he joined the English faculty at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He held a Visiting Lectureship in English at Oxford University from 1978-79, and from 1981-82 he was Visiting Associate Professor of English at Brown University. In 1989 he was appointed Professor of English at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In 2003 he was designated Humanities Distinguished Professor of English & of Religious Studies, and in 2004 Distinguished University Professor at OSU. Following his retirement in 2010 he divided his time between Washington, DC, where he was a frequent denizen of both the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress, and his home in Virginia.

An alumnus of the Bronx High School of Science in New York, he received the B.A.  cum laude from Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, in 1965 and the M.A. cum laude from the University of Chicago the following year. He completed his dissertation at the University of Chicago in 1973 under the direction of William A. Ringler, Jr., on “Patronage and Propaganda under Protector Somerset.” Over the course of a career which spanned more than five decades, King produced a remarkable body of scholarship dedicated to the literature produced in England during the religious upheavals of the sixteenth century. He took as his point of departure C. S. Lewis’s now-infamous dismissal of this material as “drab.” By challenging Lewis’s presupposition, King laid the groundwork for the subsequent development of the study of English Reformation literary culture and Tudor literature as sub-fields within Renaissance literary and cultural studies. These fields would not have attained their present form without his shaping influence. The clearest tribute to his groundbreaking scholarship lies in his ability to foresee the viability of these areas of inquiry decades before they migrated into the mainstream of the wider field. His work remains essential for anyone working on these subjects.

King was one of the first scholars to utilize the STC-II, Katharine F. Pantzer’s revision of the original Pollard & Redgrave Short-title Catalogue, to which he was granted access prior to the publication of volume 2 (I-Z) of STC-II in 1976. His first book, English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition (Princeton, 1982), was the first major study to locate the origin of the English Protestant literary tradition in the generic and formal experimentation associated with the turbulent reigns of Henry VIII (1509-47) and in particular Edward VI (1547-53). It expanded the scope of earlier work, such as James McConica’s English Humanists and Reformation Politics (1965), and laid essential groundwork for major subsequent developments, including the British Academy John Foxe Project ( King was a member of its Advisory Board and one of its most stalwart defenders. In his review of English Reformation Literature, Douglas Nicholls praised King as a “worthy cartographer” of “one of the least appreciated but most crucial areas of English literature.” I am told by the editors of The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature (2009) that English Reformation Literature is the most frequently cited monograph in that collection.

King kept his focus on the political aspects of literary production in his three succeeding books, while he simultaneously expanded its scope. They include Tudor Royal Iconography: Literature and Art in an Age of Religious Crisis (Princeton, 1989), Spenser’s Poetry and the Reformation Tradition (Princeton, 1990), and Milton and Religious Controversy: Satire and Polemic in Paradise Lost (Cambridge, 2000). These studies situate the achievement of canonical authors within the religious controversies, visual representative traditions, and cultural conflicts of the Tudor era. His was one of the first and most important voices in the so-called “turn to religion” in early modern studies, which now dominates the field. He also appreciated, sooner and more keenly than most, the potential of the interdisciplinary sub-field of the History of the Book to produce new insights within our discipline. His investigation into the relationship between books as material objects and their intellectual contents lies at the heart of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Early Modern Print Culture (Cambridge, 2006), as well as a monograph-in-progress, The Reformation of the Book: 1450-1650, for which he received a Guggenheim fellowship, and which remains unfinished at his death.

His scholarship is as wide-ranging as it is influential. King is editor or co-editor of three collections of scholarly essays: John Foxe and His World (Ashgate, 2002), Henry VIII and His Afterlives (Cambridge, 2009), and Tudor Books and Readers (Cambridge, 2010). His numerous editorial projects include a co-edited edition of John Bale’s Vocacyon (1553), one of the first autobiographical narratives in the language, published by the Renaissance English Text Society (1990); Anne Askew’s Examinations for the Early Modern English Woman series (1996); Voices of the English Reformation, a textbook of sources in English Reformation literature (2006); and an edition of narratives from Foxe’s Acts and Monuments for Oxford World’s Classics (2009). He was co-editor of Literature and History (1989-2010), and editor of Reformation (2005-10). His more than 100 articles and chapters have appeared in virtually every major journal in the field and include important essays on a contemporary bookseller’s manuscript account list (1987), the prominent evangelical printer John Day (2001, 2002), and the English Bible. His research enjoyed the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies; the American Philosophical Society; the Bibliographical Society of America; the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Institute for Reformation Studies at the University of St. Andrews, the Huntington Library; the National Humanities Center; the Newberry Library, the Rockefeller Foundation, and more. He mentored dozens of students at Ohio State whose careers continue his legacy. His interest in teaching extended beyond OSU to a series of ten National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars for College and University Teachers which he directed or co-directed, and one NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers. The topics of these programs included “The English Reformation: Literature, History, and Art,” “Religion in English History and Literature from The Canterbury Tales through Pilgrim’s Progress,” “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Early Modern English Print Culture,” “The Reformation of the Book,” and “Tudor Books and Readers.”

John King was much more than a pioneering scholar. His eccentricities included a singular plant in his office which was watered by generations of graduate students, and which he dismembered among them at his retirement. I once overheard him explaining to an undergraduate why his office hours were always at 8 o’clock in the morning. “So that I can meet with you,” he deadpanned. He had a striking tendency to offer definitive pronouncements on subjects such as the consumption of cheese. He cultivated hobbies in botany and related outdoor activities and was an accomplished rare book collector and traveler. One of his former students accurately described him as “unstintingly generous in his support of people” whose “joy and glee were remarkable.” Participants in some of his recent NEH programs praise his “mind for detail and scope of knowledge that would be daunting if he were not so good at offering his insights with a touch of humor.” He “turns his erudition into valuable experiences” and proved “a helpful and dedicated mentor” in research as well as “valuable ‘book-related’ [walking] tours.” I have myself designed popular student walking tours of Tudor London and Oxford from John King’s models. He helped make the rare book collection at Ohio State University Libraries into one of the finest John Foxe collections in the world, and he augmented its considerable Reformation holdings with an unparalleled collection of books printed by John Day, the premier Protestant printer of the English Reformation. He was also instrumental in OSU’s fortuitous acquisition of the complete James Stevens-Cox collection of STC-sigla books.

His considerable achievement spanned the classroom and the rare book library, the halls of a major research university and the streets of Europe, where the authors, printers, and patrons we study lived and worked. His knowledge of these contexts was second-to-none, and he was always willing to share that knowledge with anyone who wanted to learn. He was affable to all who knew him, a remarkable man who hosted memorable meetings of Renaissance reading groups at his home and who did everything he could to help others succeed in an increasingly difficult profession. His eager willingness to share his prodigious knowledge over the course of many years was fueled by his striking blend of generosity and humor. John King was a towering presence in the field and in the lives of those who knew him best, an exemplary scholar and supportive mentor, as well as a good friend. He is survived by his wife Pauline, son Jonathan, and other family members.

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A Requiem for Lía Schwartz

Posted By RSA, Thursday, June 18, 2020

Written by Adrian Izquierdo, Baruch College, The City University of New York

Lía Schwartz, a prominent Renaissance scholar and Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY), died on May 31, 2020 in New York.

Professor Schwartz was born in Corrientes, Argentina in 1941. She graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in Classical Literature and Spanish Philology in 1965, and then attended the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz to study Classical Literature. Little did she know that she would only come back to her native Argentina as a visitor and that in the next half century she would become a world-renowned early modern scholar, an international authority on the Spanish Golden Age, and an outstanding professor greatly beloved by peers and students alike.

Professor Schwartz’s international education, no small feat for a woman at the time, continued in the US, where she completed her PhD at the University of Illinois under the direction of James O. Crosby. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the foremost early modern Spanish writers, and an author whose contemporary reception her subsequent research shaped fundamentally. She spent most of her professional career teaching at Fordham University, Dartmouth College and The Graduate Center (CUNY), but she also taught at Princeton University, New York University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Her reputation as a leading scholar in early modern literature radiated to Spain, where she was a visiting professor at the universities of Salamanca, Autónoma de Madrid, Zaragoza, La Coruña, and Menéndez Pelayo. She was regularly invited to lecture at various universities across the US, Europe, and Latin America. For decades she played leadership roles in international organizations including the AIH (International Association of Hispanists), the AISO (International Association of the Spanish Golden Age), and other important professional associations. She was chair and deputy chair of both the AIH and the AISO, and she also chaired the Division on 16th and 17th Century Spanish Prose and Poetry of the MLA. From 2005 to 2012 she was an Associate Editor of Renaissance Quarterly, and in 2007 she was elected to the Executive Board of The Renaissance Society of America.

Professor Schwartz is best known for a series of books and critical essays on Spanish Golden Age writer Francisco de Quevedo, in which she explored, among many other topics, the relationship between Quevedo and the classics, the rhetorical tradition of the Spanish Baroque, Neostoicism, history-writing and the power structures shaping most aspects of intellectual production in the Court of the Hapsburgs, to cite just a few. Her research and publications on the Menippean satire in Early Modern Europe and the connections between satire and moral philosophy, as well as the praxis of imitatio in Quevedo and other Spanish early modern writers, were fundamental to understanding how the classical tradition had been received and revived by the Spanish intellectuals in the early modern period. Besides her research and philological editions of Quevedo’s works, her publications on other Spanish heavyweights were also groundbreaking. Her many articles on Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Góngora, Gracián, and the brothers Argensola attest to the range and depth of her research. Just a brief look at Professor Schwartz’s entries for the Gran Enciclopedia Cervantina suffices to demonstrate the scope of her knowledge: Apuleius, Aristotle, Aquiles Statius, Aristophanes, Ausonius, Boetius, Catullus, Cato, Caesar, Cicero, the Cynics, Demosthenes, Diogenes, Xenophon, Juvenal, Lucian and Ovid—all in relation to Cervantes’ opera.

But all of these, if significant, are widely known facts. I’ll now swerve a little from the conventions of the genre and dwell not only on what she published or where she taught but also on what Professor Schwartz, a beloved professor, mentor and friend, did.

You didn’t know that you wanted to become an early modern scholar before you entered one of Professor Schwartz’s courses. But once you did you were certain that was all you wanted. Genuine erudition has a very powerful appeal, and she won over her students easily with the way she imparted her knowledge. We had been infected with a Rabelaisian thirst for learning, and we would come back for more. It was fairly common to hear CUNY students from all walks of life and countries thanking Professor Schwartz and her late husband, Professor Isaías Lerner, another heavyweight in Renaissance studies, for opening the doors of graduate education to them and changing their lives. Professor Schwartz’s teaching was erudite but accessible, rigorous but not burdensome, and you never felt overwhelmed by her formidable intellect. She considered herself to be, quoting Quevedo’s apprenticeship in Neostoicism, not sapiens but proficiens—a learner—in early modern literature. Her remarks at conferences and talks were master classes on sprezzatura and brainpower, and on many occasions her observations at dissertation defenses were just what was needed to turn a thesis project into a powerful book.

She navigated with confidence the difficult ocean of short-lived critical fashions and trends that would pop up from time to time across campuses, confident that philology as an all-embracing discipline could accommodate them with ease. There was no modern intellectual or critic she didn’t know or had not read. Her graduate seminars displayed an exceptional array of titles and themes, and she offered graduate seminars on Cervantes, Quevedo, Lope de Vega and Góngora, but also on European knights and rogues, love discourses in the Renaissance, Neostoicism and the shaping of the early modern mind, the Humanistic comedia in Spain, Italian and French influences in the Spanish Golden Age, and the European Baroque Imaginary. At the University of Argentina, she had been a student of Jorge Luis Borges, and he was certainly a decisive influence on her career. Professor Schwartz’s course on “Borges and His Precursors,” together with her “Cervantes’s Don Quijote and the Crisis in European Fiction” were among the most popular and sought-after in the Hispanic and the Comparative Literature programs at the Graduate Center.

Neither institutional limitations, nor warnings of the imminent demise of the Humanities, nor failing health could dissuade Professor Schwartz from her commitment to her profession and students. Up until the end she loved being in the classroom, surrounded by her students. She relished directing new thesis projects and enjoyed being in dissertation committees in the USA and abroad. Her door was always open, and her letters of recommendation were always the first to arrive. She brought her students with her to international conferences, where many of us read our first paper with trembling knees but under her encouraging first-row gaze. And she introduced us to all the prominent scholars whose books we had read in awe in order to build connections and keep the profession alive, as she would say. Together with Professor Lerner, she became one of the leading voices of Hispanism in the US. The Graduate Center was turned into a key organizational hub for most Spanish-related events in New York together with the Cervantes Institute, the Queen Sophia Institute, foreign embassies and the Hispanic Society. And their Chelsea home became an extension—and at times an international guesthouse—of that intellectual community they had built from scratch where new book projects were hatched and students’ dissertations celebrated. Professor Schwartz was also instrumental in opening the library of the Hispanic Society, which holds the most important collection of Hispanic manuscripts and books outside of Spain, to scholars and researchers. Many of us benefited from such associations, and many research projects originated from findings in the library of the Hispanic. She was a fierce advocate of the scientific study of literature and a vocal defender of the often-neglected contribution of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain in publications and conferences on early modernity on the US.

Professor Schwartz’s achievements were recognized on many occasions. In 1999 she was awarded the Civil Order Alfonso el Sabio by the Spanish Ministry of Education; in 2013 the Spanish King and Government awarded her the Medal of the Order of Civil Merit; and in 2016 she was elected a Corresponding Member of the Real Academia Española. Last year, the University of La Coruña, and the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid joined forces with the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies (New York) and the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute (New York) to edit a volume that pays homage to Professor Schwart’s international career and outstanding accomplishments. The transatlantic endeavor of the Spanish and American institutions, combined with the significant range of the contributions to the volume, mirrors the broad variety of Professor Schwartz’s scholarly interests and achievements. Docta y sabia Atenea. Studia in Honorem Lía Schwartz was launched at the Cervantes Institute of New York in front of a grateful and appreciative crowd of former students—many now renowned scholars in their own right—and friends.

In the end, Professor Schwartz left behind countless generations of proficiens whom she helped to go on to successful careers, live fuller lives, and carry on her legacy. In doing so, she produced her biggest achievement and her lasting testament: non omnis moriar.

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Carolyn Wilson Newmark

Posted By RSA, Thursday, May 28, 2020

On May 24, 2020, Carolyn Newmark (Carolyn C. Wilson) entered into rest in Houston, Texas after a courageous battle with cancer. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the second child of Ruth Spurlock Wilson and Dr. Robert N. Wilson, Jr., Carolyn excelled academically and graduated at the top of her class from The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr. She continued her studies at Wellesley College where she graduated with High Honors as a Durant Scholar.  She earned an MA and PhD in Art History from The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.  It was in New York City that her dear friend and Wellesley roommate, Sarah Singal, set her up on a blind date with Dr. Michael E. Newmark, who became her loving husband in 1976.

Carolyn dedicated her professional life to art of the Italian Renaissance, publishing numerous articles and books, including Renaissance Small Bronze Sculpture and Associated Decorative Arts while working as the Assistant Curator of Sculpture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Italian Paintings, XIV-XVI Centuries in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston while serving as Research Curator for Renaissance Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art: New Directions and Interpretations while working independently on her favorite topic, the Italian Renaissance veneration of St. Joseph.  She received numerous book awards including the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize, the Vasari Award, and was an Alfred H. Barr, Jr. award finalist. In addition to her museum work, Carolyn taught renaissance art history at the University of Maryland, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Houston.  Carolyn spoke and read several languages, and professional trips took her all over North America and Europe where she found countless friends in foreign museums, universities, and libraries. 

At home, Carolyn dedicated her time to the care of her three daughters as an active parent at St. John’s School for 18 years.  She was a ballet and Suzuki mom in addition to making healthy dinners and sewing numerous Halloween costumes. She loved dance, theater, music, and opera, and enjoyed countless live performances. On vacation, she took her children to visit their grandparents in San Antonio and Bermuda and to Europe to see great palaces and wonderful museums. In recent years, she became a devoted grandmother to seven grandchildren, whom she lavished with love and attention as well as books and nursery rhymes. 

Carolyn is survived by her loving husband, Michael E. Newmark; her three daughters, Georgina Newmark Armstrong, Serena Newmark Mout, and Diana Newmark; her sons-in-law, Thad Armstrong, Edward Mout IV, and Shalev Roisman; her grandchildren, Benjamin, Matthew, and Caroline Armstrong, Madeline and Beatrice Mout, and Noa and Esther Roisman; her siblings, Stephen W. Wilson and Marybelle Macdonald; and her sisters-in-law, Marjorie Wilson and June Newmark, and her many nieces and nephews. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a memorial service will be planned at a future date.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Renaissance Society of America, Wellesley College, or the charity of one’s choice.

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Barbara C. Bowen (1937-2019)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Barbara C. Bowen, a prominent Renaissance scholar and former president of the RSA, has died. A Vanderbilt University professor of French, emerita, and RSA president from 1996–98, Bowen passed away on November 19 at her home in Nashville, TN. She was 82 years old.

Read the original article about Bowen's passing (reprinted below) written by Ann Marie Deer Owens.

Bowen was born in Great Britain on May 4, 1937. She began taking French in school at age 10, and her interest in French literature and culture blossomed. She received a bachelor of arts and a master of arts from Oxford University. She then studied at the University of Paris, receiving her doctorate in 1962.

Bowen was recruited from the University of Illinois to Vanderbilt in 1987, when she was named a professor of French and chair of the Department of French and Italian. She was the first woman to lead a department in College of Arts and Science.

“Barbara Bowen was a distinguished scholar of the French Renaissance who represented qualities not often seen today: immense learning grounded in philological and historical fact combined with a delight in the comic and funny,” said Patricia A. Ward, professor of French and comparative literature, emerita. “Until her death, she took delight in jokes, puns, off-beat greeting cards and images such as Botticelli’s Venus as a cultural icon, which she called ‘Venus on the Half Shell.’

“As department chair, Barbara was very prescient in instituting advanced training in second language acquisition. This training enabled graduate students of all specializations to have a versatility that enhanced their success in job placement. The percentage of doctoral students in French finding positions upon degree completion would become one of the highest in the nation.”

Among Bowen’s research interests were Francois Rabelais and 16th-century French literature, French comic theatre, European Renaissance humor and Renaissance art history. She traced the history of French farce and satire in literature and drama in some of her works.

“Barbara was well known nationally and internationally for her work on Rabelais,” said Virginia M. Scott, professor of French, emerita. “Graduate students were fearful but ultimately grateful for her direct and pointed criticism of their work. Colleagues revered her and feared her—her acerbic humor and unflinchingly critical comments were widely recognized. She was a forceful presence in the lives of many people and will not be forgotten.”

Bowen was the author of five major books, including Enter Rabelais, Laughing (1998) and Humor and Humanism (2004), an anthology of her articles. She also gave many keynote addresses and delivered papers at conferences in the United States, France, Greece and Poland. In addition, Bowen served as president of the Renaissance Society of America.

“Within the profession at large—as at her home university—Barbara Bowen was a formidable and unflinching advocate for social justice, a generous colleague, and a devoted friend whose incisive scholarship and genial wit will be sorely missed,” said William E. Engel, a former Vanderbilt Arts and Science faculty member who is now the Nick B. Williams Professor of Literature at Sewanee: The University of the South.

Bowen received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the latter of which enabled her to spend a year at the Villa I Tatti, a center for advanced research in the humanities in Florence, Italy.

Bowen taught graduate seminars in French and comparative literature and a variety of undergraduate courses ranging from “Renaissance Utopias” to “The Classic French Comic Book.”

She served on the Faculty Senate as well as several university committees, including the Comparative Literature Advisory Committee, the Committee on the Humanities and the Humanities Center Advisory Committee.

In addition to her term as department chair, she served as director of graduate studies, organized the French poetry reading competition and frequently directed the annual French play.

Scott remembers that Bowen was known for her frequent parties for colleagues and friends. “Barbara created a large community of people from across the university, as well as from Nashville, to gather regularly at her home to drink and eat together,” Scott said. “Those who knew her well remember that there was a prompt beginning and end to these social events! Those who dared buy her a gift surely heard her say, ‘For people who like that sort of thing, it’s just the sort of thing they would like.’ It was a hallmark saying of Barbara’s, who was called ‘Ba’ by her friends.”

Bowen became an emerita professor in 2002. After she retired, she continued to spend days reading and writing in her library carrel for her research.

Bowen was predeceased by her husband, Vincent Bowen. She is survived by their two daughters, Sarah L. Wilkinson and Tessa J. Majors, and their families.

Photo: Vanderbilt University

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Raymond Ward Bissell (1936–2019)

Posted By RSA, Monday, November 11, 2019


Shelley Perlove
Professor Emerita, History of Art
University of Michigan

Ward Bissell, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan, History of Art, died on October 26, at home with his beloved family as he awaited the start of the Michigan versus Notre Dame football game. His long, productive life was devoted to the University of Michigan, where he studied as an undergraduate, first in pre-dentistry until he discovered History of Art; then as a PhD student under his mentor, Harold E. Wethey. After seven years at the University of Wisconsin, Ward returned to UM where he taught for thirty-five years, until his retirement in 2007. Professor Bissell excelled as a gifted, energetic teacher of undergraduates and graduate students, and served on forty-two doctoral committees. This memoriam addresses his incredible legacy.

Specializing in Italian and Spanish art of the seventeenth century, Professor Bissell ranks among the most prominent scholars of the painters Orazio Gentileschi and his equally, if not more talented daughter Artemisia Gentileschi. Bissell’s first major publication on Artemisia in Art Bulletin in 1968 laid the groundwork for further research on this newly discovered, now justly famous woman artist. Ward’s major monograph, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, which appeared in 1999 with Penn State University Press, followed the publication of his book, Orazio Gentileschi and the Poetic Tradition in Caravaggesque Painting of 1981, also from Penn State University Press. Both monographs follow the honored tradition of Ward’s mentor at UM, Harold Wethey, by publishing a wealth of documentation. The Artemisia book is magisterial, with well-written and insightful text and detailed, lengthy catalogue entries. Bissell’s seminal publications have long stimulated discussion on the challenges of separating the works of Orazio and Artemisia. He also contributed entries to many exhibition catalogues and continued to offer advice on connoisseurship to collectors, dealers and auction houses, even up to a few weeks before his death.

An inspired and popular teacher, Ward Bissell will long be remembered by his undergraduate and advanced doctoral students. He directed and taught many times in the UM Study Abroad Program in Florence where I had the honor to serve as GSI. When I taught there myself on later dates, I fully adhered to his teaching model by insisting that all lectures take place on site in front of the actual works of art, rather than the lecture hall.

I speak for others when I relate my own experience with Ward as an esteemed mentor. He was always enthusiastic, positive, and exacting in giving advice, permitting me to follow my own path as an emerging scholar, while gently prodding me to dig deeper in my studies. He made it very clear, without even saying so, that archival research was essential to art historical research. This led me to have many crazy adventures in Roman archives, both public and private. Most importantly of all for my subsequent career, Ward was there when I really needed him to read my chapters without delay, in time for a job application deadline. I imagine we all have stories like this to share.

Professor Bissell was very serious about his scholarship and teaching, but was also immense fun at parties. One year the graduate students invited him to come to a costume Halloween party. We laughed hysterically when he solemnly entered the room wearing a bedspread with small, color reproductions (University Prints) of medieval paintings pinned to the border and a tall hat. He also wore sequined, white gloves, before the time of Michael Jackson.

Ward Bissell is survived by his devoted wife of thirty-one years, Tina (Goldstein); their son Alex Alden Bissell; Ward’s daughter Kathryn Reed (Rob); and grandchildren Adam and Lilian Reed. Also surviving are his beloved brother Robin and his wife Sandy and their three children. Professor Bissell was preceded in death by his son Mark Weston Bissell and his parents, Raymond and Irvina Bissell.

Ward’s friends and family were the beneficiaries of his playful wit, bad puns, many acts of kindness, and unbounded enthusiasm for life, including his passion for painting, sculpture, architecture, antiques, gardens, and of course Michigan sports. In retirement he produced finely finished wooden sculptures vaguely reminiscent of the style of Louise Nevelson. The greatest lesson he imparted to all of us was the deep satisfaction and pleasure one derives from studying original works of art.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made in Ward Bissell’s name to either the UM Department of History of Art Undergraduate Initiative or to the UM Museum of Art fund for new acquisitions. Both efforts support direct engagement with original works of art, an experience Ward Bissell believed was essential for everyone. For information on a donation contact Professor Christiane Gruber, History of Art Chair,

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Barbara Kiefer Lewalski

Posted By RSA, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

February 22, 1931–March 2, 2018

On March 2, 2018, we lost our dear colleague Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of History and Literature and of English, Emerita, at Harvard University who became Kenan Research Professor from 2013 to 2015 after her retirement in 2010. Barbara was the preeminent scholar of Milton and of seventeenth-century poetry from the second half of the twentieth century to the early decades of the twenty-first; her influence will continue long into the future. She was an indefatigable mentor to generations of graduate students, many of them women scholars now leading the profession through their own work.

Over the course of her over fifty-year career, Barbara received many of the profession’s highest honors: two Guggenheim Fellowships (1967, 1980); the James Russell Lowell Prize (1979); elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1980) and to the American Philosophical Society (1986); and the Renaissance Society of America’s Paul Oskar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award (2016). She won the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford Award three times. When she was still comparatively young (in 1977) she was awarded that society’s highest distinction, “Honored Scholar,” joining the company of such Olympians as James Holly Hanford, C. S. Lewis, Northrop Frye, and William Empson, as well as Helen Darbishire, Marjorie Hope Nicolson, and Irene Samuel.

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Barbara earned her bachelor of science in education with a double major in English and Social Science from Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State University) in 1950 and her Ph.D. in 1956 from the University of Chicago under the supervision of Ernest Sirluck, a decisive figure in modern scholarship on Milton’s challenging prose. Sirluck’s legendary erudition and rigor—he was a major in the Canadian Army in the Second World War—would be the model for Barbara’s “book camp” training of her own graduate students.

Barbara began her academic career at Wellesley College (1954–56) before moving to Brown University, where she determinedly entered the faculty club by the front door instead of the back door assigned to women. She joined the Harvard University faculty in 1982 as one of only a dozen tenured women in the university. Barbara’s first book, Milton’s Brief Epic (1966), on Paradise Regained, with its multilingual account of shorter epic poems composed in the Renaissance, remains a classic in the field, a model study of Milton’s art, genre, and unorthodox theology. Her Donne’s “Anniversaries” and the Poetry of Praise (1973), which won the Explicator Prize, analyzes, with critical skill and historical insight, that poet’s most ambitious and difficult verse meditations.

Barbara’s field-changing Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Lyric (1979), for which she was awarded the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association of America, showed how the creative and intellectual stimuli for poetry of this period came not from medieval and Counter Reformation influences but from the impact of the Protestant Reformation and its rich biblical commentary. This book had wide influence, including in colonial American studies. In 1985 Barbara took a new direction with the publication of “Paradise Lost” and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms, a revelatory analysis of the layered complexity of Milton’s art and his creative revisions of genre. That book remains the authoritative study of Milton’s great poem in relation to literary forms and genres.

With the rising interest in unjustly neglected, earlier-period women writers, Barbara created a new research field with Writing Women in Jacobean England (1993) and her 1996 edition, The Polemics and Poems of Rachel Speght. Barbara revealed how early modern women authors and patrons resisted the patriarchal construct of women as chaste, silent, and obedient. She also illuminated the aesthetic achievements of early modern women writers. Amidst all the ink spilled over Aemilia Lanyer’s possibly having been Shakespeare’s mistress, Barbara wisely observed that such speculations draw attention away from Lanyer’s skillful poetic achievement.

Barbara also produced a major original spelling edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost (2007) and a still more difficult and complex edition, with Estelle Haan, of Milton’s shorter poems (2012) in English, Italian, Greek, and Latin, volume III in the Oxford University Press Complete Works of John Milton.

The capstone of Barbara’s career is her magisterial study, The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography (2000), superseding the first modern biography of Milton, by William Riley Parker (1968). The book is exceptionally rich in its account of Milton’s historical and cultural contexts in relation to his literary art and controversial prose. In it she regularly pauses in the exciting narrative of Milton’s public life to give discerning and concise analyses of all of his poems. Despite its formidable erudition, this large volume has won an audience beyond professional students of the poet.

As a tribute to her mentorship, Barbara’s former students brought out Form and Reform in Renaissance England: Essays in Honor of Barbara Kiefer Lewalski (2000), edited by Amy Boesky and Mary Thomas Crane. At her death, the distinguished Miltonist John Leonard said, “Barbara excelled in four distinct areas of Milton studies: as teacher, critic, biographer, and editor. Other great Miltonists have achieved eminence in two or even three of these, but Barbara was very special indeed in achieving all four.” Barbara also displayed the rarest of qualities in a critic: good sense exercised at the level of genius.

We’d like to conclude this tribute with a revealing story. One dark winter night at Harvard, during a snowy nor’easter, a committee meeting ran late and Barbara was packing her bag for the drive home to Rhode Island. Her colleagues on the committee urged Barbara to stay the night in a nearby hotel. Unmoved, she set off in her car, which, after hours of stop-and-start traffic in blinding snow, spit flames from under the hood. “That’s not good,” said she, steering to the side of the road, where other cars were already stranded and disappearing under falling snow. The flames were now leaping higher than the windshield and black smoke was filling the car, so she came to a stop and engaged the parking brake. But before getting out, she retrieved from the back seat her coat and her briefcase, filled with student papers. She then retired to a safe distance from which to watch the fire department arrive and put out the flames.

The world misses Barbara Lewalski’s brilliance, as we do. We also miss her collegiality, her generosity, her strength of character, and her presence of mind.

Respectfully submitted,

Chris Barrett
David Loewenstein
Daniel Shore
W. James Simpson
Gordon Teskey
Leah Whittington
Susanne Woods

This memorial is modified from the original text, which was a Memorial Minute to the Harvard Faculty, delivered by the committee chair, Gordon Teskey, on February 5, 2019.

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Sarah H. Lippert

Posted By RSA, Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sarah H. Lippert, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Michigan–Flint, Director of the Society for Paragone Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of its journal Paragone: Past and Present, passed away on 24 April 2019. She was the author of numerous books and articles, including the newly published The Paragone in Nineteenth-Century Art (Routledge, 2019), along with Going Back to the Beginning of Things: The Ancient Origins of the Arts of France (Taylor and Francis, 2018) and The Temporality of Imitation in the Works of Moreau and Gérome (Tauris, 2017). For a full list of publications, see this page.

Sarah was a long-time supporter and member of ATSAH, SECAC, and CAA, in addition to the RSA.

The SECAC 2019 session she was to chair at the upcoming conference in Chattanooga, “The Art of Depicting Paragoni of Life,” will go forward in honor of her memory, and there will be a special session at CAA in 2020.

We are grateful to have known and loved this young, energetic, and accomplished scholar. ATSAH plans to establish an academic fund in her honor. Details will follow.

Liana de Girolami Cheney
President, The Association for Textual Scholarship in Art History (ATSAH)

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JANET COX-REARICK, June 28, 1930 — November 28, 2018

Posted By RSA, Thursday, December 6, 2018
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2018

Janet Cox-Rearick, Distinguished Professor emerita of Italian Renaissance art, who mentored two generations of admiring students and took an active part in Renaissance Society affairs, passed away in New York on November 28, 2018, at the age of 88. Her work and life were long centered on New York City and her second home in her beloved Florence, the locus of her extensive and influential scholarship on the mid-Cinquecento mannerists. She served on the RSA Executive Board and was chosen to deliver the Josephine Waters Bennett lecture at the 1996 annual conference.

Janet Cox was born in 1930 in Bronxville, New York. Following in the footsteps of her mother, a Wellesley alumna in art history, Janet attended the same college (class of 1952). A tall blonde, both striking and chic, she was already working as a fashion model and planning a career in that industry, but a course with legendary professor Sydney Freedberg, the doyen of connoisseurship, inspired her shift of professional trajectory to art history. She followed her mentor to Harvard, where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D.; her published dissertation, The Drawings of Pontormo (1963, revised 1981), remains the standard catalog of the artist’s graphic legacy. From 1961–63 she was among the first group of fellows at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, to which she later returned as visiting faculty. The quality and significance of her work also earned research fellowships from all the major grantors in the field, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery in Washington, and the Guggenheim and Getty Foundations.

Following early curatorial stints at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Frick Collection, Janet joined the faculty of Hunter College of the City University of New York in 1964. Her teaching career at CUNY spanned 42 years, the last six at the university’s Graduate Center, where she coordinated the doctoral Renaissance-Baroque specialization. She inspired her advanced Hunter classes to create ambitious exhibitions in the college gallery, notably Giulio Romano, Master Designer (1999), a drawing show featuring a catalog co-authored with her M.A. advisee at the time, Richard Aste. Outside academia, she co-curated the well-received 2010 exhibition The Drawings of Bronzino at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Besides scores of articles, lectures, and exhibition catalogs, Janet published three more major books. Though she continued to engage with her first love – drawings and connoisseurship – her methodological portfolio expanded into social history, particularly patronage and women’s studies. Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art (1984) connected her favorite artist, Jacopo Pontormo, to the agenda of that ambitious Florentine family; Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora in the Palazzo Vecchio (1993) analyzed a complex program commissioned by Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence; and The Collections of François I: Royal Treasures (1996) assembled a comprehensive study of the patronage of that splendid French monarch and the school of Fontainebleau. I once asked Janet (whom I valued as a gracious, yet strong-willed, CUNY colleague) how an italianista came to study a northern king. She explained that her husband Wiley had been planning a research year in Paris, and she wanted a project of her own that she could work on while she accompanied him there – hence a study of the greatest Gallic supporter of Italian artists. However pragmatic its origins, the resultant sumptuous book earned her the rank of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French government.

Fittingly, it was at the 2000 RSA conference in Florence that Janet introduced a new research interest that would occupy her for the next decade: costume studies. Her starting point was Agnolo Bronzino’s iconic portrait of Duchess Eleonora, spotlighting her elaborate and costly gown intended to convey wealth and authority. Being a woman who had modeled for a living, and always wore her own elegant wardrobe with the same panache, it came as no surprise that Janet organized several years of RSA panels on clothing as a primary outlet for female self-fashioning, or -- as one of her papers pithily titled it, embodying her culminating synthesis of fashion, patronage, politics, and feminism -- “Power Dressing.” She capped that interest with a delightful exhibition at the CUNY Graduate Center featuring detailed reconstructions of Eleonora’s famous outfit and others renowned from period paintings. It was partly for this work that she received an Annual Recognition Award from the College Art Association’s Committee on Women in the Arts in 2002.

Janet’s feminist awareness also made her a pioneering supporter of broader research on sexuality and gender. She chaired the art-history program committee for the 1986 College Art Association conference, which invited proposals for special sessions on wide-ranging methodological themes. Then a newly minted Ph.D. in a fledgling and controversial field, I feared my suggested symposium on homosexuality in art would land in the reject pile, but to my surprise, Janet phoned immediately and summoned me to discuss the proposal at her home. She accepted the idea on the spot, declaring with her customary firm conviction, “It’s about time”; the resultant panel did much to open the formerly conservative discipline to LGBT (later queer) studies. Janet herself subsequently organized a CUNY symposium on sexuality in Bronzino’s art and poetry that acknowledged all facets of the artist’s sometimes homoerotic works.

Janet’s first marriage was to art historian William Roger Rearick. Her second husband was the prominent CUNY musicologist H. Wiley Hitchcock, to whose children, Susan and Hugh, Janet became a devoted stepmother; he died in 2007. In 2012, she married Renaissance art historian Louis Waldman, from whom she later separated. He survives her, along with Susan and Hugh Hitchcock, her sister Cynthia Farris, and three nephews.

James M. Saslow
Professor Emeritus of Art History
Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

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Craig Stephen Harbison (1944–2018)

Posted By RSA, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Craig Stephen Harbison, age seventy-four, died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest on 17 May 2018 in his home in Hadley, Massachusetts. A prominent scholar of Northern Renaissance art, Craig taught art history for more than thirty years, primarily at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 19 April 1944, Craig grew up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He attended Oberlin College, where he majored in art history and studied under Wolfgang Stechow. There he met his wife of thirty-seven years, Sherrill Rood, whom he married after graduation in 1966.

Craig went on to pursue a PhD at Princeton, becoming one of Erwin Panofsky’s last students. He received his degree in 1972, two years after taking his first teaching job at the University of California, Davis. From 1972 to 1974 he taught at Oberlin College, his alma mater. He began his career at the University of Massachusetts immediately thereafter.

Craig authored two widely read and admired books on Northern Renaissance art: Jan van Eyck: The Play of Realism (1991, paperback 1995) and The Mirror of the Artist: Northern Renaissance Art in Its Historical Context (1995), the latter published in six languages. He wrote many articles reflecting a wide range of interests, including Italian Renaissance art, for compendia and journals such as Art Bulletin, Art History, Art Quarterly, Burlington Magazine, Oud-Holland, Renaissance Quarterly, Simiolus, and Word and Image. He also contributed to several BBC television programs on Northern Renaissance art.

In some ways, Craig eschewed the conventions of scholarly art history; he believed in an imaginative, personal response to works of art. In his review of Craig’s book on Van Eyck (Art Bulletin 75.1 (1993): 175–76), Christopher S. Wood wrote, “These are imaginative readings, and they should not be subjected to ordinary scholarly ordeals of verification. They are blueprints for a rejuvenated criticism of older art.” In particular Wood noted: “Van Eyck’s art, we are told, is ambivalent, shifting, experimental, ironic, ludic, self-divided; at once materialistic and spiritual, pretentious and skeptical, audacious and anxious. So were 15th-century people. (So is Harbison’s book, for that matter).” Anyone who knew him would recognize this as a pretty good description of Craig himself (except that he was anything but pretentious). As Craig’s son Colin noted at his father’s memorial service, the word to best sum up Craig’s character was “complicated.”

Craig’s remarkable teaching and mentoring skills benefited undergraduate and graduate students, as well as junior faculty, at the University of Massachusetts and elsewhere. Awarded his university’s College of Humanities and Fine Arts Outstanding Teaching Award in 1998, Craig served on more than fifty MA and MFA committees, chairing more than fifteen. He served twice as director of his department’s graduate program, and three times as department chair. In positions of academic leadership, he always offered a clear and ambitious vision for the future of art history within the broader humanities.

After his retirement, Craig came out as a gay man and spent the next fifteen years growing into himself. He had a lifelong love for live and recorded opera. He was a chef, an artist, and photographer, and an avid reader. He was a generous and thoughtful friend, and unconditionally loving father and proud grandfather.

Craig is survived by his brother Robert Harbison of London, England; his former wife, Sherrill Rood Harbison; his two children, Hanne Harbison of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Colin Harbison of Fairfax, Virginia; and his three grandsons, Amon Harbison Koopman and Aidan and Nathan Harbison.

Monika Schmitter
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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