Very sad news from Magdalene College, Cambridge that Duncan Robinson has died: an exceptionally nice, warm, interesting, and wonderful person. He introduced me to art history by teaching a course on ‘Painting in Central Italy 1300-1350’ in 1975, which I took and it introduced me to the pleasures of intensive research on fourteenth-century Italian painting, which for a time I pursued before switching to architecture. At the time, he was an Assistant Keeper at the Fitzwilliam and was said to serve behind the bar in the pub in Great Shelford to supplement his income (this could be apocryphal). In 1981, he went to be Director of the Yale Center for British Art, where he had done graduate work as a Mellon Fellow in the mid-1960s and, in 1995, he returned as Director of the Fitzwilliam. Someone was saying recently that he was one of those people who did a ton of work without ever showing off about it and he managed to combine being Director of the Fitzwilliam with being Master of Magdalene as well (his Wikipedia says he was also Deputy Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire, but if so, he doesn’t mention it in Who’s Who). He was a predecessor of mine as Chairman of what was then the Prince’s, now the Royal Drawing School – always benign, but also very orderly, and unlike many art historians, good with money. A great and very sad, irreplaceable loss.
Copyright: Lucy Dickens/NPG