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A Tribute to Dr John Gage by Dr Frank Salmon (Head of Department)

last modified Feb 28, 2012 12:21 PM

I am very sorry to have to report to you the death of Dr John Gage, Lecturer in History of Art from 1979, Reader from 1995 and Head of Department from 1992 to 1995. John was a Fellow of Wolfson College from 1978 to 1989 and, in 1995, received the honour of being elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

John Gage was educated at the University of Oxford and at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He taught at the University of East Anglia before coming to Cambridge. His first book was 'Life in Italy at the Time of the Medici' (1968) but, the following year, he published 'Colour in Turner: Poetry and Truth', which announced in print his lifetime's research on the role of colour in art. Perhaps his magnum opus was 'Colour and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction' (1993), which won the pre-eminent Mitchell Prize for Art History in 1994 and was described in a review by Sir Ernst Gombrich as "an encyclopedia of colour lore". 'Colour and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism' followed in 2000 and 'Color in Art', in the populist Thames and Hudson World of Art series, in 2006. After publication of 'Colour and Meaning', 'Nature' magazine expressed the view that "everything Gage writes is essential reading for the serious student of color in art." This highlights the singularity and great distinction of his achievements as an art historian.

John left the Department in 2000, dividing his time thereafter between Australia and a house in Tuscany. He died in a hospice back in Cambridge last Friday evening, 10 February, aged 73. Aside from Michael Jaffé , who founded the Department in 1970, and Francis Haskell, who was one of the founding memebers of the Department and died in 2000, John Gage is the first member of the established staff we have had to have passed away. We plan to commemorate him with a suitable event in the not-too-distant future.

Please also see the item written by Alex Potts in the Guardian

Click here for the Telegraph's obituary of John Gage