Beloved art history prof. passes

by Angie Yang | 11/11/10 11:00pm

Art history professor Angela Rosenthal died Thursday morning surrounded by family and friends, her husband, Adrian Randolph also an art history professor at the College said in a statement.

Colleagues and students described Rosenthal as full of energy and passionate about the art she sought to share with students. They also pointed to Rosenthal's desire to push students while still offering a nurturing environment in which to learn.

Born in Trier, Germany, Rosenthal came to the College in 1997. She was an expert on 18th and 19th century art and culture and "British art within a global perspective," according to the art history department's website. She also specialized in cultural history, studying gender and feminism in art.

"A charismatic teacher and mentor to many students, she was particularly inspiring in her chosen areas of gender studies in art," art history professor Jim Jordan wrote in an e-mail to The Dartmouth. "Angela was a very active, well-known scholar whose contributions to 18th-century history will be greatly missed."

Art history major Maria Fillas '11 said she admired Rosenthal's "vivacity" and "extraordinary elegance."

"To me and to many, she was more than a favorite professor," Fillas wrote in an e-mail. "She was a role model, mentor, and friend."

Rosenthal wrote two books and a number of essays about Angelica Kauffman, a Swiss-born artist who is viewed as one of the most prominent painters of the 18th century, according to the art history department's website. She also authored a book about English-born artist William Hogarth and studied the portrayal of slaves in art.

Kauffman was Rosenthal's favorite artist, art history professor Ada Cohen wrote in an e-mail.

Rosenthal was a "vital resource" for art history professor Mary Coffey, Coffey wrote in an e-mail. Rosenthal read and commented on drafts of Coffey's essays and book before they were published.

"I have learned a lot from her excellent scholarship," Coffey said in the e-mail. "Her astute and sensitive visual analysis was complemented by her wide grasp of theory and her lucid prose style and excellence as a public speaker. She was mesmerizing to listen to and to read."

Cohen said she was "reminded of the power of observation, thoughtfulness and the psychological insight [Rosenthal] brought to her scholarly work" while discussing one of Rosenthal's articles with a student.

Rosenthal brought a "hard-to-forget quality to all her daily interactions with colleagues, students, and friends," Cohen said in the e-mail.

Rosenthal was committed to making students feel like they were "part of a community of scholars," art history professor Kathleen Corrigan wrote in an e-mail.

"Angela often had her students present their work in some public way sometimes in an informal exhibition on the walls of Carpenter Hall," Corrigan wrote. "I think this was her way of challenging them to come up to a high standard and letting them see how gratifying it can be to share with others some work that you're proud of."

Angela Cheng '12 said that Rosenthal was a "warm" and "welcoming" professor who helped her build up her confidence in the classroom.

"I was kind of afraid to talk in class," Cheng said. "She just made it such a point to make sure everyone talked in class."

Rosenthal encouraged Cheng during office hours to speak more in class and would look at her when she wanted her to contribute to the conversation, Cheng said, adding that she never felt pressured to talk.

"The way she did it was so great," Cheng said. "It's not like she put the spotlight on me."

Rosenthal attended Trier University, where she received her PhD., and the University of London, Randolph said in the statement. She also worked at the Staatsgalerie Saarbrucken and at Northwestern University before coming to the College, Randolph said.

Rosenthal is survived by Randolph, her parents, Peter and Anne Rosenthal, and her sister, Felicia Rosenthal, Randolph said. A memorial service for Rosenthal will be held at St. Thomas Church on Sunday at 2 p.m. A reception in the Kim Gallery at the Hood Museum of Art will follow.