Art and Architecture, Commentary

RIP Mary D. Sheriff (1950–2016)

Sheriff at Latona Fountain, Versailles. Courtesy of: Keith Luria.

Mary D. Sheriff, internationally celebrated art historian and educator, died on October 19, 2016, at the age of 66.

From Susan Bielstein, executive editor at the University of Chicago Press:

We’re sad to report that our beloved author Mary Sheriff died on October 19, 2016, after a short, intense fight with pancreatic cancer. Sheriff was the W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History in the Art Department of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. A leader in the study of eighteenth-century art, she published three books with the Press: Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (1990), The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (1996), and Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France (2004). We expect to publish her new book, Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in Eighteenth-Century France, and will announce a publication date in due course.

From Sheriff’s partner, Keith Luria:

[Sheriff] specialized in eighteenth-century French art and transformed the field by re-evaluating rococo painting, introducing feminist perspectives, and examining European art in a global context. She published widely on artists such as Fragonard and Vigée-Lebrun, as well as on questions of art and gender. She taught at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill since 1983, was a former chair of the Art Department, and was named W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in 2005. She was also a central figure in eighteenth-century scholarship as an editor of the journal Eighteenth Century Studies and as a founding member of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art group. Her scholarly achievements were recognized through numerous visiting professorships, invitations to lecture around the globe, awards, and fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the NEH. She also made a great impact on the field with her teaching. Both undergraduate and graduate students revered her, and she trained many doctoral students, who follow her example of commitment to excellent teaching and scholarship. In addition to her professional work, she was also an avid traveler, bird watcher, and scuba diver.

To read more about Sheriff’s work published by the University of Chicago Press, click here.