Richard M. Barnhart
John M. Schiff Professor of the History of Art
Dick Barnhart, B.A. Stanford University, M.A., Ph.D. Princeton University, faculty member at Yale since 1967 (with a five-year period away from Yale at Princeton between 1973-1979, from which Yale lured you back!): during your years at this University you have ensured the preeminent position of Yale in the teaching and scholarship of Chinese art. Your course in becoming an art historian was not a straightforward one, but its divagations helped you achieve the complement of talents that have informed your accomplishments. A studio artist first, you incorporated an artist’s sensitivity to visual form in all of your subsequent work as art historian and curator. Trained in Mandarin Chinese during your military service, you completed a degree in Chinese Language and Literature, giving yourself a firm command of the language of your future discipline, and then pursued your doctorate in the art history of China and Japan.
Curator during your career for no less than nine major exhibitions, you were honored in 1994 by the College Art Association for your superb exhibition and catalogue The Painters of the Great Ming. Your scholarship and teaching have been essential to Chinese art becoming widely known, appreciated, and understood in this country, and your world-wide reputation in this field is such that year after year students from Asia have sought you out as an advisor in order to complete their graduate training.
Chair of your department during an important period, Chairman of the Archives of Asian Art since 1984, you have also been a compelling lecturer, with the gift of not only illuminating aesthetic value but of revealing in your criticism the joy and tragedy of human experience. Lover of China and of the art created through the centuries of its distinguished tradition, as you retire and begin a new life in the western part of this country, your colleagues on the Yale faculty bow in homage and gratitude.
Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans