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Andrew Michael Jaffe

Male 1923 - 1997  (74 years)


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  • Name Andrew Michael Jaffe 
    Born 3 Jun 1923  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biography Independent, The (London) > Jul 17, 1997 > Article > Print friendly
    Obituary: Professor Michael Jaffe
    G D S Henderson
    As Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, for 17 years, from 1973 to 1990, Michael Jaffe will be remembered above all for his tireless policy of acquisition: not just of the great paintings which he rescued from the threat of foreign purchase - Van Dyck's Virgin and Child, Stubbs's Gimcrack and Renoir's La Place Clichy - but of innumerable other works large and small, all of top quality and interest, from many historical periods and in many media.

    This rich haul, to which was added a steady flow of bequests and endowments, was achieved largely by Jaffe's energy, taste and persuasiveness, backed by the good will of such bodies as Heritage and National Art Collections Fund.

    Under Jaffe the Fitzwilliam's collections were rehung and redisplayed. The entrance hall was transformed into a spectacular gallery of early 19th-century sculpture. The museum's extension, after 12 years' building, was officially opened in 1975, and a greatly expanded programme of public exhibitions began, including shows specifically planned to the City of Cambridge's Summer Festival.

    Michael Jaffe came up to King's College, Cambridge, as a scholar in 1945, after four years' service in the RNVR, and immediately entered into the spirit of Cambridge life. He became President of the Marlowe Society, and edited the Granta. He read History and then English, obtained a First, but also attended the lectures of the Slade Professor of Fine Art, and was a constant visitor to the Fitzwilliam.

    After Cambrdge, his professional interest in the visual arts was focused by the classic Courtauld experience, Johannes Wilde's lectures and student access to the Seilern Collection, and later again by research at Harvard on Rubens and his contemporaries. In the early 1950s Nikolaus Pevsner was making Cambridge itself more conducive to education in the visual arts. Jaffe became a Fellow of King's in 1952, and as Cambridge's only Assistant Lecturer in Fine Arts, from 1956, he began undergraduate teaching in the subject, including memorable classes in the Fitzwilliam. His own ideas in the 1950s about the scope of art education were inchoate, ambitious and idealistic. His forceful personality began more and more to control his immediate environment; striking evidence of this was the still controversial decision of his college in 1961 to recast the east end of the chapel in order to accommodate Major Allnatt's altarpiece by Rubens. Jaffe's academic plan, strongly supported by interested spectators such as Ernst Gombrich and Francis Wormald, became a reality in 1961 with the introduction of a Part II in the History of Art.

    From that time on, Cambridge produced a stream of art historians, curators, art dealers and critics, all stamped by Jaffe's standards and commitment. In the 1960s he published substantial books on Van Dyck, Rubens and Jordaens. His educational vision, fired by frequent visits to the United States, was to place Cambridge University's art collections at the centre of the activities of the Teaching Department, with a Curator-Professor in control. Had Jaffe succeeded Carl Winter as Director of the Fitzwilliam in 1967 it is just possible that a creative merger of the interests of the Teaching Department and the museum staff might have been achieved. The continuing success of the department was endorsed by the university through Jaffe's personal Readership in 1968, and the crucial decision to establish Art History as an independent department, with Jaffe as its Head, in 1970. His formal connection with the policy-making of the Fitzwilliam began with his appointment as a Syndic, under the chairmanship of Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, in 1971. On David Piper's move to Oxford in 1973 Jaffe attained the Directorship, together with a personal Chair in the History of Western Art. Although he could not continue to be Head of the Teaching Department, his concern for the success of art- historical training in Cambridge remained a priority. But other pressing factors intervened.

    Economic constraint was beginning to effect development in the university and the university's art museum. The bequest by Hamilton Kerr of the Mill House, Whittlesford, with a considerable endowment, offered Jaffe an opportunity to expand the museum's functions. By a stroke of genius he recognised the chance, in Cambridge and Whittlesford, to implement the 1972 recommendation of the Gulbenkian Foundation for the establishment in Great Britain of an institute for training in the conservation of paintings. The important national and international achievements of the Hamilton Kerr Institute, a sub-department of the museum, were celebrated in an exhibition of its work at the Fitzwilliam in 1988. In spite of his constant resilience, Jaffe felt keenly frustrated by lack of funds, especially from the Government, to support the work of the museum as he now saw it, as an institution "of at least national importance".

    Fighting for the Fitzwilliam's practical and public needs certainly took toll of his original ideal of the unity of purpose of the museum and the university Teaching Department. He had little time in his later years for teaching undergraduates, although his genuine belief in the importance of art education found expression in encouraging schoolchildren to throng the museum. In the late 1980s Jaffe realistically embraced the need to publicise the Fitzwilliam, with the establishment of the Fitzwilliam Museum Trust, and by major touring exhibitions of Fitzwilliam treasures in Japan and the US.

    After retiring as Director in 1990 he continued his scholarly work on Rubens; and in 1994 he published four volumes on the collection of Italian drawings at Chatsworth. The October 1991 issue of the Burlington Magazine contained essays written as a tribute to him by some of his friends, prefaced by an editorial which eloquently touched off his achievements. Michael Jaffe's manner and sentiments were sometimes consciously dismissive, but everyone respected his hard work and singleness of purpose, and many knew him to be a loyal and considerate friend.

    Although Cambridge, and King's, and the Fitzwilliam were his natural environment, he was also wholly himself in his splendid house in Somerset, Clifton Maybank, where he fulfilled other ideals, as private collector, landowner, and lavish discerning host. Though dogged in his later years by ill-health, he coped with this in characteristically indomitable fashion. He had the benefit of a happy family life, centred upon his wife Pat, a strong personality in her own right, academically and socially. Michael Jaffe was distinguished in appearance.

    It is pleasing that a bronze portrait bust of him by Elisabeth Frink is in the Fitzwilliam, as a physical reminder of a remarkable man. G. D. S. Henderson Andrew Michael Jaffe, art historian and curator: born 3 June 1923; Fellow, King's College, Cambridge 1952-97; Assistant Lecturer in Fine Arts, Cambridge University 1956-60, Lecturer 1961-68, Reader in History of Western Art 1968-73, Head of Department of History of Art 1970-73, Professor of the History of Western Art 1973-90 (Emeritus); Professor of Renaissance Art, Washington University 1960-61; Director, Fitzwilliam Museum 1973-90 (Emeritus); CBE 1989; author of Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook 1966, Rubens 1967, Jordaens 1968, Rubens and Italy 1977, Rubens: catalogo completo 1989; editor of The Devonshire Collection of Italian Drawings 1994; married 1964 Patricia Milne-Henderson (two sons, two daughters); died Yeovil, Somerset 13 July 1997.

    Residence 17 The Vale, London S.W.3. Club - Athenaeum
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rubens scholar and director, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University 1973-1990.  Jaff (who despite his English heritage, retained the accent ague on his name) was born to a wealthy Jewish banker. He was schooled at Eton, and won a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge.  He instead served in the Royal Navy (1942-45).  He entered King's College in 1945, reading in History and English and obtaining a First. In 1949 he was admitted to the Courtauld Institute, attending lectures by Johannes Wilde (q.v.) and procuring student access to the Seilern Collection.  But Jaff was unhappy at the Courtauld and in 1951 traveled by means of a grant to the museums and archives of Europe and Harvard and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University in the United States.  His dissertation, on Rubens's early career in Italy, was completed in 1952.  For the rest of his life, Jaff would remain associated with Rubens and his period as well as Cambridge University and King's College. By the early 1950s, Nikolaus Pevsner (q.v.) was broadening the Cambridge to the disciplines of visual research.  Jaffe became a Fellow of King's College in 1952--Cambridge's only Assistant Lecturer in Fine Arts at the time.  In 1956 he began teaching undergraduate classes on art history. When Major A. E. Alnatt donated Rubens's Adoration of the Magi to the College, Jaff supervised its controversial installation into the east end of the College's chapel. In 1960, he argued successfully for Cambridge to offer art history as a degree program. He was visiting professor at Washington University, St Louis, in 1960-61. Key among Jaffe's ideas on art pedagogy at Cambridge was an integration of the museum and the classroom, a relationship he had admired at Harvard.  His notions at Cambridge had powerful subscribers, among them Ernst Gombrich (q.v.) and Francis Wormald (q.v.).  Jaffe's skill and commitment in constructing the art history program at Cambridge was largely responsible for the eminent art historians, curators, art dealers and critics, that Cambridge produced in the 1960s and 70s. In 1968 he was appointed Reader in the History of Western Art.  An independent department of Art History, with Jaffe as its Head, was created in 1970. He married the art historian Patricia Milne-Henderson in 1964. In 1971 he was appointed a Syndic to the Fitzwilliam Museum.  By 1973 he had succeeding David Piper as the director, and secured a personal Chair in the History of Western Art. At the Fitzwilliam, he reinstalled the galleries and other spaces, setting the renaissance and baroque works into a context closer to their original.  Jaff was a relentless collector for the museum.  Even in years of tight money at Cambridge, he raised funds to acquire important paintings by Stubbs, Poussin and Van Dyck,  purchasing works which otherwise would have left the country.  Jaff also created a conservation program, the Hamilton Kerr Institute, as a sub-department of the museum.  He oversaw the expansion of the gallery (opened in 1975) and the developing bequests.  Plagued with ill health in his later years, he retired from the Fitzwilliam in 1990 according to his original plan. The October 1991 Burlington Magazine was devoted to tribute essays to him by his friends.  His personal home at Somerset, Clifton Maybank, was a second museum of sorts, displaying his erudite personal collection.
    Jaff cultivated a personality of condescension and intimidation, which his training as an art historian, his personal wealth, and his position at a major academic gallery, allowed him to support.  His personal disputes with other art historians of the baroque period--a celebrated one with Julius Held (q.v.) in particular--show the intensity of his personality as well as the breadth of his scholarship.  Even his decision to become a Rubens scholar points to his tenacity.  In the 1950s, Ludwig Burchard (q.v.) a scholar who had accumulated a vast amount of material on Rubens and published only a small part, was still alive.  Many burgeoning scholars were intimidated to make a career of Rubens. Jaffe, however, was not deterred, building in relative few years a scholarly reputation because in part he had the courage to take up the study of Rubens.
    Although rooted in archival scholarship, of utmost most importance to Jaff was connoisseurship.  He was famous for testing even season colleagues by showing them a bronze or an oil sketch in his home and wait for them to evaluate the work.  He himself was responsible for adding many paintings to the accepted oeuvre of Rubens, Van Dyck, and others.  Among his discoveries (reattributions, really) was his1955 discovery in the library in Chatsworth of Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook.  It had long been known to scholars but dismissed as the work of others.  His 1968 exhibition in Ottawa on Jordaens, highlighted some of his bolder attributions, which were challenged by other scholars.  [1
    Occupation Professor of Art History 
    Residence London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 13 Jul 1997  Yeovil, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I256  Blank Family
    Last Modified 3 Mar 2009 

    Father Arthur Daniel Jaffe,   b. 26 Jan 1880, Belfast, Northern Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1954, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Mother Marie Strauss,   b. 27 Apr 1885, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1956, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years) 
    Married Sep 1909  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F196  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Pat Milne-Henderson,   b. Yes - date unknown  
    Married 1964  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 



    • FindArticles > Independent, The (London) > Jul 17, 1997 > Article > Print friendly
      Obituary: Professor Michael Jaffe
      G D S Henderson
      As Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, for 17 years, from 1973 to 1990, Michael Jaffe will be remembered above all for his tireless policy of acquisition: not just of the great paintings which he rescued from the threat of foreign purchase - Van Dyck's Virgin and Child, Stubbs's Gimcrack and Renoir's La Place Clichy - but of innumerable other works large and small, all of top quality and interest, from many historical periods and in many media.
      This rich haul, to which was added a steady flow of bequests and endowments, was achieved largely by Jaffe's energy, taste and persuasiveness, backed by the good will of such bodies as Heritage and National Art Collections Fund.
      Under Jaffe the Fitzwilliam's collections were rehung and redisplayed. The entrance hall was transformed into a spectacular gallery of early 19th-century sculpture. The museum's extension, after 12 years' building, was officially opened in 1975, and a greatly expanded programme of public exhibitions began, including shows specifically planned to the City of Cambridge's Summer Festival. Michael Jaffe came up to King's College, Cambridge, as a scholar in 1945, after four years' service in the RNVR, and immediately entered into the spirit of Cambridge life. He became President of the Marlowe Society, and edited the Granta. He read History and then English, obtained a First, but also attended the lectures of the Slade Professor of Fine Art, and was a constant visitor to the Fitzwilliam. After Cambrdge, his professional interest in the visual arts was focused by the classic Courtauld experience, Johannes Wilde's lectures and student access to the Seilern Collection, and later again by research at Harvard on Rubens and his contemporaries. In the early 1950s Nikolaus Pevsner was making Cambridge itself more conducive to education in the visual arts. Jaffe became a Fellow of King's in 1952, and as Cambridge's only Assistant Lecturer in Fine Arts, from 1956, he began undergraduate teaching in the subject, including memorable classes in the Fitzwilliam. His own ideas in the 1950s about the scope of art education were inchoate, ambitious and idealistic. His forceful personality began more and more to control his immediate environment; striking evidence of this was the still controversial decision of his college in 1961 to recast the east end of the chapel in order to accommodate Major Allnatt's altarpiece by Rubens. Jaffe's academic plan, strongly supported by interested spectators such as Ernst Gombrich and Francis Wormald, became a reality in 1961 with the introduction of a Part II in the History of Art. From that time on, Cambridge produced a stream of art historians, curators, art dealers and critics, all stamped by Jaffe's standards and commitment. In the 1960s he published substantial books on Van Dyck, Rubens and Jordaens. His educational vision, fired by frequent visits to the United States, was to place Cambridge University's art collections at the centre of the activities of the Teaching Department, with a Curator-Professor in control. Had Jaffe succeeded Carl Winter as Director of the Fitzwilliam in 1967 it is just possible that a creative merger of the interests of the Teaching Department and the museum staff might have been achieved. The continuing success of the department was endorsed by the university through Jaffe's personal Readership in 1968, and the crucial decision to establish Art History as an independent department, with Jaffe as its Head, in 1970. His formal connection with the policy-making of the Fitzwilliam began with his appointment as a Syndic, under the chairmanship of Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, in 1971. On David Piper's move to Oxford in 1973 Jaffe attained the Directorship, together with a personal Chair in the History of Western Art. Although he could not continue to be Head of the Teaching Department, his concern for the success of art- historical training in Cambridge remained a priority. But other pressing factors intervened. Economic constraint was beginning to effect development in the university and the university's art museum. The bequest by Hamilton Kerr of the Mill House, Whittlesford, with a considerable endowment, offered Jaffe an opportunity to expand the museum's functions. By a stroke of genius he recognised the chance, in Cambridge and Whittlesford, to implement the 1972 recommendation of the Gulbenkian Foundation for the establishment in Great Britain of an institute for training in the conservation of paintings. The important national and international achievements of the Hamilton Kerr Institute, a sub-department of the museum, were celebrated in an exhibition of its work at the Fitzwilliam in 1988. In spite of his constant resilience, Jaffe felt keenly frustrated by lack of funds, especially from the Government, to support the work of the museum as he now saw it, as an institution "of at least national importance". Fighting for the Fitzwilliam's practical and public needs certainly took toll of his original ideal of the unity of purpose of the museum and the university Teaching Department. He had little time in his later years for teaching undergraduates, although his genuine belief in the importance of art education found expression in encouraging schoolchildren to throng the museum. In the late 1980s Jaffe realistically embraced the need to publicise the Fitzwilliam, with the establishment of the Fitzwilliam Museum Trust, and by major touring exhibitions of Fitzwilliam treasures in Japan and the US. After retiring as Director in 1990 he continued his scholarly work on Rubens; and in 1994 he published four volumes on the collection of Italian drawings at Chatsworth. The October 1991 issue of the Burlington Magazine contained essays written as a tribute to him by some of his friends, prefaced by an editorial which eloquently touched off his achievements. Michael Jaffe's manner and sentiments were sometimes consciously dismissive, but everyone respected his hard work and singleness of purpose, and many knew him to be a loyal and considerate friend. Although Cambridge, and King's, and the Fitzwilliam were his natural environment, he was also wholly himself in his splendid house in Somerset, Clifton Maybank, where he fulfilled other ideals, as private collector, landowner, and lavish discerning host. Though dogged in his later years by ill-health, he coped with this in characteristically indomitable fashion. He had the benefit of a happy family life, centred upon his wife Pat, a strong personality in her own right, academically and socially. Michael Jaffe was distinguished in appearance. It is pleasing that a bronze portrait bust of him by Elisabeth Frink is in the Fitzwilliam, as a physical reminder of a remarkable man. G. D. S. Henderson Andrew Michael Jaffe, art historian and curator: born 3 June 1923; Fellow, King's College, Cambridge 1952-97; Assistant Lecturer in Fine Arts, Cambridge University 1956-60, Lecturer 1961-68, Reader in History of Western Art 1968-73, Head of Department of History of Art 1970-73, Professor of the History of Western Art 1973-90 (Emeritus); Professor of Renaissance Art, Washington University 1960-61; Director, Fitzwilliam Museum 1973-90 (Emeritus); CBE 1989; author of Van Dyck's Antwerp Sketchbook 1966, Rubens 1967, Jordaens 1968, Rubens and Italy 1977, Rubens: catalogo completo 1989; editor of The Devonshire Collection of Italian Drawings 1994; married 1964 Patricia Milne-Henderson (two sons, two daughters); died Yeovil, Somerset 13 July 1997.
      Copyright 1997 Newspaper Publishing PLC
      Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
     4. Living
    Family ID F69  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 3 Jun 1923 - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1964 - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 13 Jul 1997 - Yeovil, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S38] The Independent, Obituaries, July 17 1997.


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