ROWLAND, Benjamin, Jr. Overbrook near Philadelphia 2.12.1904 — Cambridge Mass. 3.10.1972. U.S. Art Historian. Professor in Cambridge, Mass. Educated at St.Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., studies at Harvard (S.B. 1928, M.A. 1929). Ph.D. 1930 Harvard. Then teaching at Harvard: 1930-41 Instructor and Tutor, 1941-50 Associate Professor and 1950-72 Professor (Gleason Professor of Fine Arts). During the war served in Navy Staff in 1942-45. Travelled much in Asia and Europe. In the end he was often ill and died in cancer. Married 1941 with Lucy Thomas, 5 daughters.
BR was an innovator who even before the WW II started his lectures on general art history with Picasso’s Guernica instead of Stone-Age and Egypt. He founded the art history school at Harvard. In the 1930s he was led to Oriental art through Spanish art (Jaime Huguet) and through his friendship with A. K. Coomaraswamy. He first engaged himself with Japanese art and later became a leading specialist of Indian and Central Asian art. Himself a painter, he was against over-specialization and strived for wide generalisations. He also had many additional hobbies like philately, coin collecting, gardening and raising mastiffs. His collections of Indian and Far Eastern art he donated to Victoria and Albert Museum (London) in 1971.
Publications: much on European, American, Japanese (Horyuzi!) etc. art.
– The Wall-Paintings of India, Central Asia and Ceylon: a comparative study. 1-2. 100 p. 36 pl. 1938
– The Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. 17+218 p. ill. Baltimore 1953.
– Art in East and West. An Introduction through Comparisons. 14+144 p. 62 ill. Cambridge 1954.
– Gandhara Sculpture from Pakistan Museums. 64 p. ill. N.Y. 1960.
– Ancient Art from Afghanistan: Treasures of the Kabul Museum. 144 p. ill. N.Y. 1966.
– The Evolution of the Buddha Image. 146 p. N.Y. 1963; Zentralasien. Kunst der Welt. 1970.
– articles in ArtAs, etc.
Sources: R. Edwards, ArtAs 35, 1973, 371-373; *J. Rosenfield, AAA 26, 1972-73, 9-11; The New York Times 5.10.1972 (www.nytimes.com/1972/10/05/archives/benjamin-rowland-jr-67-dies-fine-arts-professor-at-harvard.html).