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Opdycke, Leonard E., Jr.

    Full Name: Opdycke, Leonard E., Jr.

    Other Names:

    • Leonard Opdycke

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1895

    Date Died: 20 May 1977

    Place Died: Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States


    Opdycke’s father was Leonard Opdycke, Sr. (1856-1914), a New York lawyer and social philanthropist and his mother Edith Bell (Opdycke) (1857-1946). His grandfather was a Civil War brigadier general and hero of the Battle of Chickamauga, Samuel Emerson Opdycke (1830-1884). The younger Opdycke was raised in the privileged family circumstances of his independently-wealthy parents. He graduated from Harvard summa cum laude in 1917. He entered the navy in World War I rising to the rank of ensign. After the war he continued for his master’s degree in art history at Harvard, receiving it in 1920. He joined the department, eventually becoming associate professor of art history (the highest he could achieve without a Ph.D.). During World War II he taught mathematics, naval navigation and naval history in Boston and other venues. He succeeded Frederick B. Deknatel as chair of the art department in 1949. Opdycke taught introductory courses in Renaissance art history and British art. He died at his Boston home at age 82. His papers are held by Harvard University Archives. James H. Stubblebine sites Opdycke’s undergraduate courses in art history as inspiring him to pursue art history himself.

    Selected Bibliography

    “Group of Models for Berninesque Sculpture.” Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum 7 (March 1938): 25-30; Photographs of the United States Navy, 1883-1917. Cambridge, MA: Fogg Art Museum, 1942.


    Stubblebine, James. “Preface and Acknowledgment.” Guido da Siena. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964, p. vii; [obituary:] “Leonard Opdycke, was Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard University.” New York Times 25 May 1977, p. 99.


    "Opdycke, Leonard E., Jr.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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