In Memoriam

Posted in Member News by Editor on January 3, 2011

Anne Layton Schroder (1954-2010)

By Mary D. Sheriff

For a serious scholar, Anne Schroder certainly laughed a lot. It was such a pleasure to hear that generous, mirthful, and above all contagious laugh, a laugh filled with optimism. That optimism and joy, I also heard in Anne’s serious talk about the scholarship that she loved.  But where her laughter came spontaneously and without effort, her scholarly work demanded time, patience and determination as well as intellect and invention. Her keen mind, astute eye, fertile imagination and sheer love of her work are perceptible in all her writings, but her elegant and fluid prose render invisible the effort and labor that went into producing them.

As Anne’s graduate school adviser, and then her friend and colleague, I had the good fortune of working with Anne over many years. Anne, in fact, was my first dissertation student, and I met her when I interviewed for my job at UNC. In those years there were very few art historians specializing in eighteenth-century French art, and to find at UNC a brilliant student who shared my enthusiasms was pure kismet.  Over the years I worked with Anne, I saw her perseverance as well as her brilliance.  Anne continued her dissertation research in Paris through a season of metro bombings that were frightening indeed, and she continued her dissertation writing while holding a demanding full-time position at the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield. Anne produced an outstanding and original thesis requiring the sort of detective work that she recently showed in locating an unknown early work by Francois Gérard for the Nasher Museum of Art. In fact, Anne has long been a finder. In the course of her dissertation research, she combed through old records and located a drawing by Fragonard long forgotten in the storerooms of a French museum. She wrote to the museum about the drawing, hoping to see and publish the work. But before she could get there, the museum scooped her, announcing its “discovery” of a previously unknown Fragonard drawing. Like many other scholars, Anne experienced this sort of treachery at different points in her career, but if wiser for such experiences, she remained generous to students and colleagues, optimistic about the future of scholarship, and deeply committed to her own work. Even in professional positions that neither supported nor encouraged her own scholarship, nor gave her the time to pursue it, Anne never stopped writing.

For those who specialize in eighteenth-century art, Anne was not only a well-known scholar, she was also a well beloved colleague and friend. Anne had a knack for getting along with everyone: and I cannot think of a single colleague who was so universally liked and respected. She served the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture, in various roles, including a term as president, and she was instrumental in sustaining and growing the organization. She will be sorely missed by all.

Over the years I knew Anne, she never lost the optimism that always seemed to echo in her laughter. If she experienced setbacks and obstacles, she never gave up her scholarship. If before Spalding there were heartbreaks, she never lost faith in family, and if before Eric there were disappointments, she never lost faith in love.

With Deepest Sympathy

Posted in Member News by Editor on January 3, 2011

Note from the President

Dr. Anne L. Schroder, 1954-2010

I am very sorry to begin the new year with sad news. Our friend and colleague Anne Schroder passed away after a brief and unexpected illness on December 23. Anne served HECAA as newsletter editor, treasurer, and president. Far beyond these official capacities, she was an extraordinary voice of enthusiasm, support, and good cheer for our community. She will be greatly missed.

The notice from the Nasher Museum of Art is available here»

Cards can be sent to her husband Eric Vance at 2507 Foxwood Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations can be made to the Smith College Fund and directed to scholarship support. Gifts may be made online, by calling (800) 241-2056, or by mailing a check to the Gift Accounting Unit, Smith College, 33 Elm Street, Northampton, MA 0106. A memorial service in Chapel Hill, NC, is planned for Saturday, January 15, 2011, at 2 PM at Binkley Baptist Church, 1712 Willow Drive, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514; phone (919) 942-6186. A graveside service will take place in Atlanta at a later date.

Dr. Julie-Anne Plax
Professor of Art History
University of Arizona