Francis Haskell

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Francis James Herbert Haskell (1928 – 18 January 2000, Oxford) was an English art historian, whose writings placed emphasis on the social history of art. He wrote one of the first and most influential[1] patronage studies, Patrons and Painters.

He was the son of Arnold Haskell, an influential ballet critic and writer. He read history at King's College, Cambridge and became a Fellow there in 1954; he was a member of the semi-secretive Cambridge Apostles society, a debating club largely reserved for the brightest students. Later he was Professor of Art History at Oxford from 1967 until his retirement in 1995; the position made him, ex officio a Visitor—that is, a trustee—of the Ashmolean Museum. He was a trustee of the Wallace Collection, 1976–1997. In 1976 Haskell, who often served on advisory committees for museum loan exhibitions, joined the National Art Collections Fund committee and became one of its most vocal members, defending the purchase of Poussin's Rebecca and Eliezar for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (the government refused to accept the painting because it had been in the collection of the disgraced Anthony Blunt).

His interest in the circumstances in which paintings were displayed, which reflected the esteem in which they were held and influenced the way they were perceived runs as a leitmotiv through his published work, beginning with an article jointly written with Michael Levey in Arte Veneta, 1958, that was devoted to art exhibitions in eighteenth-century Venice.[2]

His wife, Larissa, had been a curator at the Hermitage Museum.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Patrons and Painters: Art and Society in Baroque Italy, 1962, 2nd edition, 1980. Haskell was working on a further revised edition when he died.
  • Rediscoveries in Art: Some Aspects of Taste, Fashion, and Collecting in England and France, 1976
  • Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Antique Sculpture 1500–1900 (Yale University Press), 1981, with Nicholas Penny
  • History and its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (Yale University Press), 1993
  • The Ephemeral Museum: Old Master Paintings and the Rise of the Art Exhibition (Yale University Press) 2000
  • The King's Pictures: The Formation and Dispersal of the Collections of Charles I and his Courtiers (Yale University Press), 2013

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Shone, Richard and Stonard, John-Paul, eds.. The Books That Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.
  2. ^ Noted by Nicholas Penny in his introduction to The Ephemeral Museum.