Angela Rosenthal: In Memoriam
David Bindman is emeritus professor of the history of art at University College London.
Angela Rosenthal, associate professor of art history at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, died on November 11, 2010. She was an exceptional scholar whose boundless energy, intellectual fecundity, and charismatic personality endeared her to her colleagues, students, and friends.
Born in Trier, Germany, Rosenthal attended university there, receiving her PhD magna cum laude in 1994. She had previously studied in England—at University College London, the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Westfield College—between 1986 and 1989. After working as curator of contemporary art at the Stadtgalerie in Saarbrücken (1994–95), she moved to the United States to become Andrew Mellon Assistant Professor of Art History at Northwestern University (1995–97). She came to Dartmouth in 1997 as an assistant professor.
Unusually wide ranging in the field of early modern visual culture, Rosenthal’s work embraced a global perspective, with an emphasis on cultural history, gender studies, and postcolonialism. Although her focus was on eighteenth-century British art, she wrote eloquently in recent years on images of slavery and whiteness, and on contemporary art of the African diaspora. Her most important publication was the magisterial Angelica Kauffman: Art and Sensibility (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), which she developed from her Trier University thesis on this Neoclassical painter. She was also working on a second major book, The White of Enlightenment: Racializing Bodies in Eighteenth-Century British Visual Culture, at the time of her death.
An energetic force in the academic tradition of essay compilations, Rosenthal partnered with Bernadette Fort to edit The Other Hogarth: Aesthetics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), which won the 2002 Historians of British Art Book Award for the best multiauthor volume of the year. In addition, she compiled the forthcoming volume Invisible Subjects? Slave Portraiture in the Circum-Atlantic World, 1630–1890 (University of Chicago Press) with Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and was working on another collection, No Laughing Matter: Visual Humor in Ideas of Race, Nationality, and Ethnicity, that was based on the proceedings of a Humanities Institute she organized at Dartmouth in 2007.
Rosenthal also produced many articles in English and German on eighteenth-century art and contemporary subjects, some of which have become widely influential. Although it is difficult to pick just one from the many, her essay on “Visceral Culture: Blushing and the Legibility of Whiteness in Eighteenth-Century British Portraiture,” published in Deborah Cherry’s Art: History: Visual: Culture (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005), has become particularly seminal.
Rosenthal’s death at such an early stage of her career is an incalculable loss, but she will live on in the remarkable work she had already produced, and in the fond memories of all who had been touched by her vitality and warmth. She is survived by her husband, Adrian Randolph, Leon E. Williams Professor of Art History at Dartmouth College; her sister, Felicia Rosenthal, chief executive officer of CellGenix Technologie Transfer; and her parents, Peter and Anne Rosenthal.
Published on January 4, 2011.