Enfilade

In Memoriam | Mary D. Sheriff (1950–2016)

Posted in Member News by Editor on October 20, 2016

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Mary D. Sheriff, internationally celebrated art historian and beloved teacher, died on October 19, 2016 at the age of 66. She specialized in eighteenth-century French art and transformed the field by re-evaluating rococo painting, introducing feminist perspectives, and examining European art in a global context. She published widely on artists such as Fragonard and Vigée-Lebrun, as well as on questions of art and gender. She taught at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill since 1983, was a former chair of the Art Department, and was named W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor in 2005. She was also a central figure in eighteenth-century scholarship as an editor of the journal Eighteenth Century Studies and as a founding member of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art group. Her scholarly achievements were recognized through numerous visiting professorships, invitations to lecture around the globe, awards, and fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEH. She also made a great impact on the field with her teaching. Both undergraduate and graduate students revered her, and she trained many doctoral students, who follow her example of commitment to excellent teaching and scholarship. In addition to her professional work, she was also an avid traveler, bird watcher, and scuba diver. She and her husband Keith Luria were devoted to each other and shared these professional and non-professional passions.

Mary Sheriff was born on September 19, 1950 in Plainfield, NJ to Robert William Sheriff and June Leaf. She was educated at Bucknell University and the University of Delaware. She is survived by her husband Keith Luria of Chapel Hill, NC and her father Robert Sheriff of Tarpon Springs, FL. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor her memory can make donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the Duke Homecare and Hospice of Durham, NC. A memorial will be held in her honor in the spring.

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Update (added 25 January 2017) — Here’s information on a special CAA session to be held in memory of Mary in New York:

Key Conversation: Mary Sheriff (1950–2016): A Memorial Session
Saturday, 18 February 2017, 12:15–1:15, New York Hilton, Madison Suite, 2nd Floor

Chair: Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia)

Join this session to remember Mary Sheriff. Come together, share memories, and celebrate her achievements.

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  1. Editor said, on October 24, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Mary’s forthcoming book Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in Old Regime France is schedule for publication by The University of Chicago Press in 2017. Several articles will also appear in the coming months in edited volumes, including one edited by Susanna Caviglia, Body Narratives: Motion and Emotion in the French Enlightenment (Brepols). And finally, a book Mary co-edited with Melissa Hyde Women in French Art: 1750–1830 (a National Museum of Women in the Arts/Mellor Prize book) is nearly finished. Details to follow as publication dates are announced. –CH


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