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Subject: Whitney Stoddard, 90, Art Historian and Teacher


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died April 2
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Date Posted: April 14, 2003 4:03:45 EDT

Whitney S. Stoddard, an art historian and influential teacher who taught for many years at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., died on April 2 at his home there. He was 90.

Mr. Stoddard wrote important studies tracing the origins and styles of medieval art and architecture. His "Art and Architecture in Medieval France" (Westview Press, 1966) remains a widely used textbook. But his influence as a popular, charismatic teacher may have been greater.

Along with fellow professors S. Lane Faison and William H. Pierson, he turned the art history department of Williams, the small, private college in western Massachusetts, into an unusually productive incubator of art world leaders.

The list of Mr. Stoddard's former students, many of whom did not begin college with the intention of majoring in art history, includes Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art; Thomas Krens, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art; James N. Wood, director of the Art Institute of Chicago; Michael Govan, director of the Dia Center for the Arts; Roger Mandle, president of the Rhode Island School of Design; and Kirk Varnedoe, former curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art and now professor of art history at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study.

William J. Bennett, the former secretary of education, was a student as well.

In 1989 Mr. Stoddard received an award for distinguished teaching from the College Art Association.

Born March 25, 1913, in Greenfield, Mass., Whitney Snow Stoddard graduated from Williams in 1935 and received his doctorate in art history from Harvard University in 1941. He began teaching at Williams in 1938. Except for his service in the Navy from 1942 to 1945, he continued to teach there full time until his retirement in 1982.

Mr. Stoddard's first wife, Jean Wilson Read, whom he married in 1936, died in 1988. In 1991 he married Elizabeth Jensvold, who died in 2002. Mr. Stoddard is survived by his sons, Brooks W., of Brunswick, Me., and Lawrence J., of Fort Collins, Colo.; his daughter, Elizabeth Stoddard of Portland, Me.; 10 grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren.

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