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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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Riccardo Fubini

Posted By RSA, Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Riccardo Fubini, for many years a professor in the Dipartimento di Studi sul Medioevo e Rinascimento in the University of Florence, passed away in his home in Via Cairoli, Florence, at the age of eighty-three, after a lifetime devoted to the study of Renaissance humanism, Italian diplomacy, and the history of Florence. In a stream of publications characterized by original readings and a deep understanding of historical context he consistently argued that humanistic studies played a major role in creating a more tolerant and enlightened world. He believed the Renaissance to be the historical period that saw the fundamental shift in European civilization toward values and practices that for good and for ill should be considered “modern.”

Fubini was born in Trieste in 1934 to a Jewish family that included several distinguished academics and was about to suffer under Mussolini’s anti-Semitic racial laws. How the family responded to a world that was collapsing around them is recounted in the book La via di fuga, written by one of Riccardo’s sons, the journalist Federico Fubini. Removed from the university chair he held at Palermo, Riccardo’s father, the distinguished literary critic Mario Fubini, took the family into exile in Switzerland. Riccardo’s maternal grandparents and his uncle, the economist Renzo Fubini, died at Auschwitz in 1944. Trained at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Riccardo received his laurea in medieval history in 1958 with a thesis on the writings of Biondo Flavio. In 1964 he published a reprinting of the collected works of Poggio Bracciolini, and his remarkable entry on Biondo was published in the Dizionario biografico degli italiani in 1968. On Felix Gilbert’s recommendation he was assigned to edit the first two volumes (published in 1977) of the Lettere of Lorenzo de’ Medici under the general editorship of Nicolai Rubinstein. The Lettere project was expected to clarify Lorenzo’s role as a diplomat and as a patron of the arts and of literature. Fubini’s painstaking research, attention to prosopographic detail, and remarkable commentary transformed the letters edition into a magnificent window on fifteenth-century Italy, in which diplomacy and arts patronage were embedded in factionalism, clientage, commercial interests, institutional change, strife among generations, campanilismo, and class differences. He came away convinced that Renaissance humanism, even in its literary and philosophical aspects, was best appreciated in the deeper political and social context that other scholars—many of them English speaking, and many of them working on Florence—were then exploring in a series of rich institutional and social histories. In this he differed from many of the academics then studying humanist texts. His essays offering original and exciting interpretations of works by—among others—Petrarch, Lorenzo Valla, Leonardo Bruni, Marsilio Ficino, Giannozzo Manetti, Annius of Viterbo, and Niccolò Machiavelli were accompanied by quite different ones, equally memorable, on such topics as the role of the Italian ambassador, fifteenth-century conspiracies, Florentine statutory reform, Jewish moneylending, the work of Pollaiuolo, the papacy of Nicholas V, and the career of a provincial chancellor in the Florentine territorial state. His grounding in fifteenth-century realities supplied the tools and confidence behind disagreements on important points with such luminaries as Eugenio Garin and Paul O. Kristeller, while it led to important collaborations in conferences and seminars with historians of politics, society, religion, economics, and, in recent years, art and architecture.

Many of his essays are collected in six important volumes: Umanesimo e secolarizzazione da Petrarca a Valla (1990; published by Duke University Press in an English translation by Martha King in 2003); Italia quattrocentesca: diplomazia nell’età di Lorenzo il Magnifico (1994); Quattrocento fiorentino: politica, diplomazia, cultura (1996); L’umanesimo italiano e i suoi storici: origini rinascimentali—critica moderna (2001); Storiografia dell’umanesimo in Italia: da Leonardo Bruni ad Annio da Viterbo (2003); and Politica e pensiero politico nell’Italia del Rinascimento (2009). A Festschrift dedicated to him, Il laboratorio del Rinascimento. Studi di storia e cultura per Riccardo Fubini (2015), was edited by Lorenzo Tanzini.

Fubini’s warm friendships embraced scholars and students of many generations, in Italy and abroad, in countries that included the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, South Korea, Israel, Australia, and Japan. He is survived by his wife, the historian Maria Fubini Leuzzi; three sons, Renzo, Federico, and Andrea; and several grandchildren.

William J. Connell
Seton Hall University

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Anne Jacobson Schutte

Posted By RSA, Monday, March 12, 2018


Anne Jacobson Schutte died from a cerebral hemorrhage on 26 February 2018. With her sudden death, the community of early modern historians lost one of its leading figures in Reformation history, gender studies, Inquisition studies, and Italian history.

Anne was raised in Palo Alto where her father worked for Stanford. After obtaining a BA from Pembroke College in Brown University, she returned to Stanford to earn a PhD in 1969 under the direction of Reformation historian Lewis W. Spitz. She remained fond of Stanford throughout her life and returned regularly to Palo Alto; indeed, just days before her death she commented on a recent article about the history of the university and its relationship to her own experience there as a child and as a student. A life-long lover of Italy, and of cats, Anne owned an apartment in Venice for many years, which she regularly rented to graduate students.  She frequently visited and collaborated with her Italian colleagues and friends, especially Silvana Seidel Menchi and Gabriella Zarri. Toward the end of her life she relocated to Chicago to ensure good medical care and to take advantage of the resources at the Newberry Library.

Anne’s life and career spanned and inspired generations of historians. She brought her rigorous training in German Reformation scholarship to Italian history, making a significant contribution to the field of Italian Reformation history with her first book Pier Paolo Vergerio: The Making of an Italian Reformer (1977). She also brought Italian historiography to English readers, introducing and announcing Carlo Ginzburg in an article in the Journal of Modern History (1976).  A recent notice in Rome’s La Repubblica commended the breadth of her knowledge and her work in countless libraries and archives, especially in the State Archives of Venice and the Inquisition archives in Rome. She loved the adventure of discovery, especially of small isolated archives and libraries, and her second book, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books, 1465–1550 (1983), speaks to her scholarly rigor and generosity, providing an invaluable scholarly resource for early modern religious history. 

Recalling the lessons that she had learned from Natalie Zemon Davis as a student at Pembroke, Anne also valued the perspective that stories from little-known repositories could add.  Careful study of individual experiences was at the heart of her books Aspiring Saints: Pretense of Holiness, Inquisition, and Gender in the Republic of Venice (2001) and By Force and Fear: Taking and Breaking Monastic Vows in Early Modern Europe (2011). Both these prize-winning books challenged easy assumptions and generalizations. Lawsuits to relax monastic vows, for example, were more often brought by men, contrary to what many assumed from reading Manzoni’s description of the “Nun of Monza.” She continued to study unusual individual experiences to the end of her life: her translation and commentary on Cecilia Ferrazzi’s Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint (1996) for the Other Voice series was a notable contribution in that vein. At her death she was working on a project about lay saints, and a book on biographies of early modern saints. Her particular methodological contributions were at the heart of a 2009 festschrift in her honor—Ritratti. La dimensione individuale nella storia. Anne was the author of four books and editor or translator of seven more, including Fulvio Tomizza’s historical and literary reflection on a seventeenth-century Venetian— Heavenly Supper: The Story of Maria Janis (1991). In her books, editions, translations and over seventy articles, she explored the social realities behind the religious behaviors and images of the early modern period.

Anne was an active participant in the profession. She was a member of numerous scholarly organizations, including stints as vice-president and president of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference and as a long-time member of the Sixteenth Century Journal editorial board.  She also was one of the American editors of Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte / Archive for Reformation History (1998–2009). In recognition of her contributions as program secretary and member of the executive council, she was honored in 2012 with the Bodo Nischan Award of the Society for Reformation Research.

Anne brought the same dedication and work ethic to her teaching. She began her career at Lawrence University in Wisconsin as an ABD, rising eventually to the rank of Full Professor. In 1992 she moved to the University of Virginia as Professor of History and soon obtained a joint appointment in Religious Studies; she worked closely with Duane Osheim, Erik Midelfort, Carlos Eire, Karen Parshall, Alison Weber, and Mary McKinley.  She was a serious teacher and a thoughtful, loyal mentor to students. Her classes were renowned for their intellectual rigor, and her comments (both written and oral) were frank and invariably on point. The brutal candor of her published book reviews came as no surprise to her students, who recognized her unwavering commitment to accuracy, clarity, and intellectual honesty.  She encouraged her graduate students to plow new scholarly terrain, both methodologically and geographically, supervising dissertations that explored an array of social and religious questions in Treviso, Verona, Bergamo, and other provincial cities of the Veneto.  Anne introduced her doctoral students to leading scholars and the most recent scholarship, and her dedication to archival research inspired numerous dissertations and books.  Leading by example, her professional and personal engagement earned the respect and admiration of students and colleagues.  To the end of her life she remained in contact with undergraduates she had advised at Lawrence and regularly communicated with her graduate students at conferences and in the archive.

Anne was not retiring in retirement. She continued to write, edit, and translate. She maintained an active correspondence with friends around the world.  Although she had recently fallen and worried that her arm was not healing properly, she still was planning another visit to Italy and talking with friends about a visit to China.

Duane J. Osheim (University of Virginia)
Christopher Carlsmith (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
David D’Andrea (Oklahoma State University)

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Carlo Pedretti

Posted By RSA, Thursday, January 11, 2018

Carlo Pedretti (1928–2018) was Professor Emeritus of Italian Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also held the Armand Hammer Chair in Leonardo Studies. In 2013 he moved permanently to Italy to live in the Villa di Castel Vitoni in Lamporecchio, headquarters of The Rossana and Carlo Foundation, which he directed up until his death.

He published sixty books and more than five-hundred essays, articles, and exhibition catalogues in various languages on the many aspects of his specialization. He was a member of the Permanent Commission for the National Edition of Manuscripts and Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. The honors received in Italy and abroad include the Gold Medal for Culture conferred by the President of the Italian Republic in 1972, and in the same year the Congressional Citation, the highest recognition from the government of the United States of America. He is also Honorary Citizen of the cities of Arezzo (2002); Vinci (2008); Romorantin, France (2010); Florence (2010); Lamporecchio (2011); and Pennabilli (2015). He holds the title of doctor honoris causa from three Italian universities, Ferrara (1992), Urbino (1998), and Milan (Cattolica, 1999), as well as one from the University of Caen, France (2003).

Professor Pedretti’s contribution to the knowledge of Leonardo’s manuscripts and drawings has capital importance. His direct study of the originals enabled him to carry out the lifelong task of reassembling Leonardo’s papers according to their original and chronological order. Hence, his pioneering and prophetic work was the catalogue of 1957 of the fragments of Leonardo drawings at Windsor from the Codex Atlanticus at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. The outcome of this approach is the monumental edition of Leonardo drawings at Windsor (1968–69), followed by the edition of drawings by Leonardo and his circle in Florence (1985), in Turin (l990), and in the American collections (1993). His critical and facsimile editions of Leonardo’s texts include the Codex Hammer (1987), the Book on Painting (1995), and also the Codex Arundel (1998). Journalism, the activity that began Pedretti’s career over fifty years ago (he was a regular contributor to the Corriere della Sera, the major Italian newspaper, and L’Osservatore Romano, the prestigious Vatican newspaper), led him to involvement in television and cinema as author, actor, and consultant to producers and directors. He loved to remember his collaboration with his friend Piero Angela for the production of a series of episodes dedicated to Leonardo for the Superquarck broadcast. He was an honorary member of the Accademia degli Euteleti in San Miniato al Tedesco and of the Accademia Raffaello in Urbino. Recently, he was nominated honorary member of the Accademia Nazionale di Scienze Lettere ed Arti in Modena.

Carlo Pedretti’s publications are collected and commented upon in two books, as follows:

Joyce Pellerano Ludmer, Carlo Pedretti. A Bibliography of his Work on Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance [1944-1984]. Compiled by Joyce Pellerano Ludmer, The Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana. Foreword by Kenneth Clark. In Celebration of His Twenty-Five Years with the University of California, Los Angeles, 1984.

Nathalie Guttmann. Carlo Pedretti’s Publications 1985-1995, with an Aftermath & a Supplement [1946-1998]. Florence, 1998.

A third publication, that includes the publications between 1999 up until today and edited by Margherita Melani, is to be added to this prolific list.

See also the Festschriften dedicated to him:

“Tutte le opere non son per istancarmi.” Raccolta di scritti per i settant’anni di Carlo Pedretti. Edited by Fabio Frosini. Rome: Edizioni Associate, 1998.

The Brill Series of Leonardo Studies: 1. Carlo Pedretti. Seventy years of his Leonardo Scholarship (1944–2014). A Festschrift edited by Constance Moffatt & Sara Taglialagamba. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

From the Rossana and Carlo Pedretti Foundation

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Brian A. Curran

Posted By RSA, Monday, December 4, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017

It is with great sadness that we write that Brian A. Curran (1953–2017) died on 11 July 2017 at his home in State College, Pennsylvania, from complications of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). An expert on Renaissance Rome whose research focused primarily on antiquarianism and Egyptian antiquities, Brian was a generous scholar, a devoted and greatly loved teacher, and a wonderful friend.

Brian attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, receiving a BFA in 1979. Between 1984 and 1990, he worked as a Curatorial Consultant and Departmental Assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in the Department of Egyptian, Ancient Near Eastern, and Nubian Art. He was highly knowledgeable and passionately enthusiastic about Egyptian antiquities. Colleagues there remember the afternoon he rushed out of the basement gripping a small piece of stone. Brian had come across a small piece that he knew instantly was the missing tip of the beak of an Egyptian statue of Horus, on view up in the galleries. The whole department trooped upstairs, and it fit perfectly!

Brian received his MA in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1989, and an MA (1992) and PhD (1997) from the Department of Art and Archaeology of Princeton University. He was a Rome Prize Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 1993–94, a fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome from 1993–95, a post-doctoral fellow of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University in 1996–97, and a fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in 2005–06. In 1997 he began teaching in the Department of Art History at Pennsylvania State University, where he served as a professor from 2011.

His many publications centered on Egyptian antiquities in Rome. Most important was The Egyptian Renaissance: The Afterlife of Ancient Egypt and Egyptian Antiquities in Early Modern Italy (University of Chicago Press, 2007). In this rich and original book, he identified many Egyptian objects and images that played strikingly prominent roles in famous works of Italian Renaissance art and architecture. In a tour de force of historical scholarship and interpretation Brian also traced the often complex travels of these objects and teased out the new meanings they took on over time and in new places. He was co-editor of the Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome from 2009, and wrote dozens of articles and reviews.

Brian was a brilliant and dedicated teacher. His courses ranged across medieval and Baroque art, sculpture, film, and historiography. He supervised or was in the process of supervising more than twelve PhD theses and more than twenty master’s theses while teaching at Penn State. Despite his devastating illness, he was able to continue teaching, using technical means devised by his department and university, until a few weeks before his death. He received numerous teaching awards and his former graduate students honored him with a symposium in 2016. Graduate students and colleagues are planning a volume of studies in his memory.

Brian is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Curran, his mother, Doris Curran, his siblings and their families, and hundreds of students and friends. To all of them—and to us—his death is a tragedy, but his memory is a blessing.

Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University
Pamela O. Long, Independent scholar and fellow of the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, 2015–20
Benjamin Weiss, Director of Collections and Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Visual Culture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Co-authors with Brian A. Curran of Obelisk: A History (MIT Press, 2009).

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Elizabeth Walsh

Posted By RSA, Monday, November 6, 2017

Elizabeth Walsh
1 January 1953—22 September 2017

Many scholars from the US and abroad who have done research at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, will remember fondly Elizabeth Walsh—known as “Betsy”—who was Head of Reader Services and worked at the Folger for forty-three years. Betsy passed away in September after a brief and heroic struggle with cancer.

As a native Washingtonian whose family lived and worked east of the capitol, Betsy spent much of her life in and around the Folger. She visited on high school trips to see student matinees, and in the summer of 1974 before her senior year as an English major at Trinity College, she worked as a circulation page. She continued working at the Folger part-time while earning a master’s in library science at the University of Maryland, and in 1986 she became Head of Reader Services.

Betsy’s knowledge of the Folger’s collections was broad and deep, enabling her to point many scholars in the direction they needed to go, often before they knew it themselves. She knew all the obscure corners of the collection, the old files, and the uncatalogued materials, and she shared this knowledge freely and gracefully with staff and readers. Betsy was never hierarchal or judgmental about giving out information. The woman who called because she wanted to name her cats after the witches in Macbeth received the same kind attention as a scholar in the reading room who needed to find early newsbooks or the high school teacher who was using primary source material for the first time. Betsy’s kindness meant that she was often the recipient of long disquisitions by researchers on their book topics or even on various theories about the Shakespeare authorship question. She would listen patiently and never let her good humor slip.

Betsy generously gave many tours, delighting in choosing just the right items from the collection that would interest visiting dignitaries, groups of actors, high school students, or readers and their families. She also worked on a number of exhibitions at the Folger; she co-curated Cathedral: Faith in Stone (1990), Yesterday’s News: Seventeenth-Century English Broadsides and Newsbooks (1995), and Voices for Tolerance in an Age of Persecution (2004). She was also a consultant on Breaking News: Renaissance Journalism and the Birth of the Newspaper (2008) and Open City: London 1500–1700 (2012).

Betsy’s longtime knowledge of Washington, DC, also made her an amazing resource for anyone who needed information on how to obtain special parking permits, or the best way to get onto I-95 from the Folger. Many readers learned their way around from Betsy; she referred them to local stores, or to dentists or clinics when they had a medical emergency. Betsy always cared about the whole person no matter what their academic degree or place of origin.            

Most of all, it was Betsy who, over the years, created the very special atmosphere felt by all those who came to use the Folger. She was warm and welcoming, and instilled those values into every generation of reading room staff, so that readers have felt they truly had a home in the Folger. When things were tough in their personal worlds, they knew they had another place to come. One scholar wrote in her book, “My home away from home has been the Folger Shakespeare Library,” as she acknowledged Betsy and the reading room staff in furthering her research. Betsy Walsh will be missed by many Folger readers and visitors, but her influence on generations of scholars endures as a tangible part of her memory.

Georgianna Ziegler
Associate Librarian and Head of Reference Emerita
Folger Shakespeare Library

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John Miles Headley

Posted By RSA, Monday, October 2, 2017

John Miles Headley, age 87, passed away peacefully on September 22, 2017 at his home with his devoted caregiver Joyce M. and family and friends in constant attendance during his final days.

Born on October 23, 1929 in New York City to his late parents Peter Sanford Ross Headley and Beatrice Miles Headley, he was preceded in death by his brother Peter Ogden Headley, of Richmond, Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in History at Princeton University, 1951. He received his Master of Arts in History from Yale University in 1953 and subsequently served with the US Army Signal Corps, 1953–55. He returned to Yale and was awarded his PhD in History in 1960. He was an Instructor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1959–61 and Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, B.C., 1962–64. In 1964 he joined the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, remaining there until his retirement in 2003 as Distinguished University Professor.

Over his career he published widely in the fields of the European Renaissance and Reformation and global history. In November 2011, friends and colleagues honored him with a symposium, "From the Renaissance to the Modern World." His other academic honors included a Guggenheim fellowship (1974). His book Tommaso Campanella and the Transformation of the World (1997) won the Marraro Prize from the American Historical Association, the American Catholic Historical Association and the Society for Italian Historical Studies as well as the Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize from the Renaissance Society of America. His other major books include The Problem with Multiculturalism: The Uniqueness and Universality of Western Civilization (2012); The Europeanization of the World: On the Origins of Human Rights and Democracy (2008); Church, Empire, and World: The Quest for Universal Order, 1520–1640 (1997); The Emperor and his Chancellor: A Study of the Imperial Chancellors under Gattinara (1983); Responsio ad Luterum, vol. 5 of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More (1969); and Luther's View of Church History (1963).

John is remembered for his dedication to his classes and to his students for generations. The high standards of his teachings and the quality of his scholarship remain an inspiration to them and to many others. He is survived by his two nephews Peter Mitchell Headley and Jonathan Miles Headley of Richmond, Virginia and his niece Elizabeth Headley Pearson of Deltaville, Virginia and eight grandnieces and nephews. The Headley family will receive family and friends at a memorial service at Walker's Funeral Home in Chapel Hill on Friday, October 6, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Frank Ryan and John Headley Dissertation Fellowship Fund of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Online condolences may be sent to the Headley family by visiting

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