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Smyth, Craig Hugh

    Full Name: Smyth, Craig Hugh

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1915

    Date Died: 2006

    Place Born: New York, NY, USA

    Place Died: Englewood, Bergen, NJ, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Florentine, Italian (culture or style), Italian Renaissance-Baroque styles, Mannerist (Renaissance-Baroque style), and Renaissance

    Career(s): educators


    Renaissance and Mannerism scholar and NYU professor; Director, I Tatti, Florence. Smyth was the son of George Hugh Smyth and Lucy Salome Humeston (Smyth). He received all his degrees from Princeton University, beginning with his A. B., in 1938 in classics. At Princeton, Charles Rufus Morey persuaded him to switch to art history for his master’s degree (M.F.A.), granted in 1941. He married Barbara Linforth the same year and joined the National Gallery of Art as a senior research assistant with fellow classmate Charles Parkhurst. There he participated in the evacuation of works of art from the Gallery to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and Randolph-Macon Women’s College, Lynchburg, VA, for safekeeping due to the war. He left the NGA when he was called for active service in World War II in the U.S. Naval Reserve, rising to Lieutenant. With the surrender of Germany, Smyth was named director of the U.S. army’s Central Art Collecting Point in Munich and placed in charge of cultural relics. He assisted in converting the former NSDP (Nazi) party headquarters into what is now the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, receiving a U.S. Army Commendation medal for his service. Smyth was discharged in 1946 and accepted a lecturer position at the Frick Collection, New York. He was awarded a senior Fulbright Research fellowship in 1949-1950 traveling to Florence. There he focused on the drawings of Bronzino, developing an appreciation for the conservation of art as well. Smyth was appointed assistant professor at New York University in 1950. In 1951 he became the Institute of Fine Art’s acting director and the permanent, second director, succeeding its founder, Walter W. S. Cook. He was promoted to associate professor in 1953. His Ph.D., however, was not granted until 1956 (again, from Princeton), with a dissertation on Bronzino. He was promoted to professor at NYU in 1957. The following year he renovated the James B. Duke House, a gift to the University, by the architect Robert Venturi, moving the Institute into these quarters, only blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There he developed the first university-based program in conservation in the country, administrated by the Institute. He was art historian in residence American Academy in Rome, 1959-60. In 1961 Smyth formed part of an important session at the Twentieth International Congress of the History of Art re-evaluating Mannerism. The result was his 1963 book Mannerism and Maniera, one of the first major revisions of Mannerist theory since the work of Walter F. Friedländer. Together with his friend Henry Millon the two published a series of articles on Michelangelo’s architecture between 1969 and 1983, fundamentally changing the thinking on Michelangelo’s contributions to the design of St. Peter’s. Smyth was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N. J., for 1971, publishing his Bronzino as Draughtsman the same year. In 1973 he accepted the directorship of Harvard University’s Villa I Tatti Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence and the rank of professor of fine arts at Harvard. In 1982 Smyth was appointed chair of the advising committee to the J. Paul Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and Humanities. He retired as emeritus from Harvard and I Tatti in 1985 after launching the periodical I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance. Smyth was appointed Samuel Kress professor at the Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts (CASVA), National Gallery Art in Washgington, D. C. for the 1987-1988 year, culminating in the symposium “Michelangelo Drawings.” He delivered the Gerson lectures on his experiences in art reparation, published in 1988. In 1999 he retired from the Getty Center; the same year the Institute of Fine Arts created the Craig Hugh Smyth professorship. His final years were spent at his Cresskill, N. J., home. A Craig Hugh Smyth grant for research at I Tatti was named in his honor during his lifetime. He died at age 91 after suffering a heart attack. Smyth’s Mannerisma and Maniera was the seminal work in his career, published in a second edition in 1992. In it, he argues that the second manifestation of Mannerism, 1530s, stemmed from an aesthetic separate and antithetical Tuscan Maniera of the 1530s.

    Selected Bibliography

    [complete bibliography:] Renaissance Studies in Honor of Craig Hugh Smyth. Florence: Giunti Barbèra, 1985, vol. 1, pp. vii-viii; [dissertation:] Bronzino Studies (with a Book of) Illustrations. Princeton University, 1956; Mannerism and Maniera. Locust Valley, NY: J. J. Augustin,1963; edited, and Lukehart, Peter M. The Early Years of Art History in the United States: Notes and Essays on Departments, Teaching, and Scholars. Princeton, NJ: Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1993; Bronzino as Draughtsman; an Introduction. Locust Valley, NY: J. J. Augustin 1971; and Garfagnini, Gian Carlo. Florence and Milan: Comparisons and Relations: Acts of Two Conferences at Villa I Tatti in 1982-1984. 2 vols. Florence: La Nuova Italia editrice, 1989; Repatriation of Art from the Collecting Point in Munich after World War II. The Hague: Gary Schwartz/SDU, 1988; and Millon, Henry A. Michelangelo architetto: la facciata di San Lorenzo e la cupola di San Pietro. Milan: Olivetti, 1988, English, Michelangelo Architect: the Facade of San Lorenzo and the Drum and Dome of St. Peter’s. Milan: Olivetti, 1988.


    Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 190; Posner, Donald. “Introduction.” Friedlaender, Walter. Mannerism and Anti-Mannerism in Italian Painting. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1965, pp. xv; [transcript] Art Historian: Craig Hugh Smyth. Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1994; Art Historian: Craig Hugh Smyth. Los Angeles: Oral History Program, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1994; Lauterbach, Iris, ed. Das Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte. Munich: Das Zentralinstitut, 1997; [obituaries:] Westermann, Mariët. “Craig Hugh Smyth, In Memoriam.” Institute of Fine Arts (website); Heydarpour, Roja. “Craig Hugh Smyth, 91, Dies, Renaissance Art Historian.” New York Times, January 1, 2007, p. 7; Cropper, Elizabeth. “Introduction.” Mannerism and Maniera. 2nd ed. Vienna: ISRA, 1992, pp. 12-21.


    "Smyth, Craig Hugh." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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