For release: August 21, 2009
For press information, contact Simone Notter Wilson, (901) 678-4164
The inaugural issue of the Journal of the Historians of Netherlandish Art (JHNA) is dedicated to the memory of Carol Purtle, Benjamin W. Rawlins Jr. Meritorious
Professor of art history at the University of Memphis who died unexpectedly on December
Purtle was the catalyst for the establishment of Historians of Netherlandish Art (HNA),
and its first president. Anne Lowenthal's tribute in the first issue of the online
Journal recounts Purtle's role in the forming and early history of the HNA. In crafting
the first issue, the editors decided to focus on Netherlandish painting of the fifteenth
and early sixteenth centuries, the subject of Purtle's passionate intellectual engagement
and many publications. She spent much of her career investigating Jan van Eyck, Rogier
van der Weyden, and other early Flemish masters.
Lowentahl points out that HNA, which has its roots in a 1982 symposium on Netherlandish
art at then Memphis State University, became a model for several other affiliated
societies within the College Art Association (CAA).
"In recognizing the need for an organization that would bring together scholars in
Northern European art, Purtle was a visionary whose grasp equaled her reach. A natural
leader, she was supremely well-organized and detail-oriented, articulate and persuasive,"
Lowenthal writes in her tribute.
"She inspired us with her sense of the possible, always presented with a quiet but
forceful enthusiasm, along with abiding good humor. Her work as founder of HNA was
of a piece with her studies of Jan van Eyck and with Van Eyck's art itself, marked
by dedication to both expansive vision and firm realization."
Anne Lowenthal, an independent scholar based in New York City, has continued her studies
in Dutch mannerism since presenting a paper, "Dutch Mannerism in Our Century: Towards
a Historiography and Definition," at the Memphis Symposium. She was a founding member
of Historians of Netherlandish Art and its third president.