Chapter

Michael David Kighley Baxandall 1933–2008

J. Onians

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 166, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, IX

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264751
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734229 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264751.003.0002

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Michael David Kighley Baxandall 1933–2008

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Michael Baxandall was probably the most important art historian of his generation, not just in Britain but in the world. In a series of books published between 1971 and 2003 he kept expanding the frontiers of the discipline, introducing new topics, new ways of writing, and new explanatory models, always demanding of himself and his readers an undissembling clarity of thought and expression. If art history is now a field that can hold its own with more established areas of the humanities, it is largely because Baxandall had a talent to transmit to others through the printed page the powerful intellectual resources he had built up through tireless inward reflection. These resources he applied with equal engagement to Italian Renaissance art criticism, German wood sculpture, the understanding of shadows in the 18th century, the planning of the Forth Bridge, and the functions of the neural structure of the retina.

Keywords: art historian; art history; biography; obituary

Chapter.  8427 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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