Caskey, Lacey D.

Full Name
Caskey, Lacey D.
Other Names
Lacey Davis Caskey
Gender
Date Born
1880
Date Died
1944
Home Country
Subject Area
Career
Overview

Curator of Classical Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1912-1944. Caskey was the son of Rev. Taliaferro F. Caskey and Phoebe Lacey. He was raised in Dresden, Germany, where his father had a chaplaincy, and though educated in English-language schools (1882-1897), acquired numerous languages early on. He graduated from Yale, his father's alma mater, class of 1901, joining the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, first as a Fellow and then between 1905-1908 as the Secretary. At the British and American classical schools in Athens, he met fellows scholars such as Sidney Norton Deane (1878-1943), Guy Dickins, Bert Hill (1874-1958) and later J. D. Beazley. He returned to America only briefly during these years to teach at Yale. Initially, Caskey's interest was in architecture and architectural inscriptions. The later book on the measurements of the Erechtheum on which he helped contains research dating from this time. At his return to the United States in 1908, Caskey was appointed Assistant Curator of Classical Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He received his Ph.D. in 1912 and was immediately appointed Curator at the Boston Museum. He remained at Boston Museum until his death. At the BMFA, Caskey's initial duties were to study and publish the important finds acquired by the Museum by Edward P. Warren (1860-1928) and John Marshall (1862-1928), the gay couple who formed a team securing important works of sculpture and vase painting in Europe for the Museum earlier in the century, under the direction of Arthur Fairbanks. Under his curatorship, the Museum acquired the Minoan Snake Goddess, the gold bowl of the Kypselids (Olympia) and the Syracusan Demareteion. Caskey married Dickins widow, Mary Hamilton Dickins, after her first husband's death in World War I. At Caskey's death he was succeeded by George Henry Chase as acting Curator. Caskey left a relatively modest body of publications. He wrote laboriously and without the encouragement to publish academics find for themselves. W. G. Constable characterized him as, though interested in archaeology, an art historian. He disparaged museum practice of spotlighting objects, extensive explanation or other techniques that detracted from experiencing the object directly.

Selected Bibliography
[dissertation:] The Building-Inscriptions of the Erectheum. Yale, 1912; and Beazley, John D. Attic Vase Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 3vols. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts/Oxford University Press, 1931-1963; and Paton, James Morton, and Stevens, Gorham P., and Fowler, Harold North, and Paton, James Morton. The Erechtheum, Measured. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press/American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1927; Geometry of Greek Vases: Attic vases in the Museum of Fine Arts Analysed According to the Principles of Proportion. Boston: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1922.
Sources
[obituaries:] "Lacey D. Caskey, Curator of Classical Antiquities at Boston Fine Arts Museum." New York Times May 23, 1944, p. 23; Constable, William G. "Lacey D. Caskey." (Archaeological News and Discussions). American Journal of Archaeology 48, No. 3 (July 1944): 275-276; Boston Museum of Fine Arts 42 (1944): 37-38.
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