Francis Haskell  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Francis Haskell (1928 – January 18, 2000, Oxford) was an English art historian, whose writings placed emphasis on the social history of art.

He read history at King's College, Cambridge and became a Fellow there in 1954. 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.

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

Selected bibliography

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