PATRONS AND PAINTERS
died January 18th 2000, aged 71
Dyck, Endymion Porter and the artist, 1632-40 (Prado)
LONDON - The first time I met Professor Francis Haskell was over a glass of wine at a British Museum symposium which he was chairing.
I was near to graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art and undecided about where I should continue my postgraduate studies.
Much to the annoyance of a room full of eminent art historians and academics trying to get his attention Prof. Haskell spent a good 45 minutes talking to me about Oxford and encouraged me to apply straight away.
As Head of the Department of History of Art (1967-1995) he later approved my application and I will always feel indebted to Prof. Haskell for being instrumental in a twist of fate that led me to live and study at Trinity College, Oxford where my son Hadrian was born.
Hadrian Le Goff at Trinity College, Oxford
Francis James Herbert Haskell was born April 7th, 1928. His father Arnold
Haskell was the acknowledged expert on the Ballets Russes and had married
Whilst an education at Eton and King's College, Cambridge made
Haskell thoroughly British he remained inquisitive about other cultures,
reflecting his father's scholarly bent. With the publication in 1963 of
"PATRONS AND PAINTERS: A Study of the Relations between Art and Society
in the Age of the Baroque” he broke new ground in the history of art exploring
the role of the patron rather than conentrating on the glory of the artist.
His profound interest in the incentives that drive us to collect art and
his meticulous research into those historical figures that became great
collectors was to be his main area of expertise.
A brilliant, fluent lecturer
I was lucky enough to attend all of his series of six evening lectures
given at London's National Gallery on the king and collector Charles I.
His 1976 book "Rediscoveries in Art" and his highly successful "Taste and
the Antique" written with Nicholas Penny have joined "Patrons and
Painters" as standard reading requirements for art history university courses
Sir Francis Haskell
Oxford with its small History of Art department and its hand-picked students suited Professor Haskell's intimate teaching style. Among his former pupils is James Steward now Director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Steward's doctoral dissertation at Oxford University on childhood and family relationships as revealed in 18th-century British art, was closely supervised by Francis Haskell.
Apart from a life kept busy with lecturing, tutoring and publishing his own research, Haskell was on the editorial boards of numerous publications including The Burlington Magazine and the Journal of the History of Collections. Often described along with Sir Ernst Gombrich as "the most highly regarded art historian of his generation", Haskell's vision was not confined to Baroque studies, he achieved extensive research over the whole range of art history from the 16th to the 20th century.
© Raichel Le Goff
Best of the Web 1999