Death of Philip Conisbee


19/01/ 2008— Obituary — Philip Conisbee, senior curator of European paintings at the National Gallery in Washington passed away last Thursday from lung cancer.

Born in England Philip Conisbee became a United States citizen in 1994. He was a graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. After teaching in Great Britain, he became curator of French painting at the Boston Museum in 1986. From 1988 to 1993 he took over as curator of European painting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art before leaving for Washington in 1993.

He was a leading specialist of French painting, particularly of the XVIIIth century, for which he published two books : Painting in 18th-Century France in 1981 and Chardin in 1985, along with many articles. He was preparing a book on Joseph Vernet, on whom he had written his dissertation and for which he had assembled extensive documentation, as well as a catalogue of French paintings of the XVIth, XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries at the National Gallery which should appear shortly. He also worked on German art (Menzel) and Danish painting of the Golden Age.

Philip Conisbee acted as commissioner for many exhibitions, including the one recently devoted to Cezanne in Aix-en-Provence. We should also mention the ones on Van Gogh & Millet in Amsterdam in 1988, Georges de La Tour and his World in Washington and Fort Worth in 1996-1997 and the remarkable retrospective Portraits by Ingres : Image of an Epoch in Washington, New York and London.

In 2003 Philip Conisbee was awarded the medal of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in recognition of his work in helping to spread knowledge of French art.

Finally, we would like to emphasize the excellent acquisitions policy at the National Gallery. We will soon offer a News item on the 2007 acquisitions.

Version française


Didier Rykner, samedi 19 janvier 2008



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