John Rosenfield (2012)
Art historian John Max Rosenfield was selected to receive the 2012 Charles Lang Freer Medal in recognition of his contribution to the field of Asian art history. Rosenfield, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of East Asian Art, Emeritus, at Harvard University, became the thirteenth recipient of the award at a ceremony on April 12, 2012. Born in 1924 in Dallas, Rosenfield studied art at the University of Texas, Austin, before enlisting in the US Army during World War II. He took his first trips to Asia (India, China, Korea, and Japan) during his military service. Upon returning to the United States, Rosenfield studied at the University of California, Berkeley; Southern Methodist University; and the University of Iowa, earning a BLS, BFA, and MFA before receiving his PhD in art history from Harvard University (1959). Following teaching positions at the University of Iowa and University of California, Los Angeles, he joined the Harvard faculty in 1966. During his twenty-five years at Harvard, Professor Rosenfield held a variety of posts, including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of East Asian Art, chairman of the Department of Fine Arts, curator of Asian art at the Fogg Art Museum, and director of Harvard University Art Museums.
Rosenfield’s numerous publications deal with Indian and Central Asian Buddhist arts of the Kushan period, Japanese Buddhist painting and sculpture, and early modern Japanese painting. His 2010 book Portraits of Chōgen: The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan represents the first significant study of Chōgen to be published in the West. He has lectured widely, organized several exhibitions of Japanese art, and served on various boards, including those of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Japan Society. Rosenfield also was chair of the editorial board of the Archives of Asian Art and of the Freer and Sackler’s Shimada Prize Committee.
Throughout his career, Professor Rosenfield has focused on fostering a mutual understanding between Japan and the United States. He has received several awards for his efforts, including the 19th Yamagata Banto prize in 2001, which recognized his contributions to spreading Japanese culture outside Japan.
James Cahill (2010)
James Cahill, former curator of Chinese art at the Freer Gallery of Art and eminent scholar in many topics of Chinese art history, was awarded the Charles Lang Freer Medal in recognition of a lifetime of seminal contributions to his field. Cahill is the 12th recipient of the Freer Medal, which he received on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 11:00 a.m. in a public ceremony in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium.
Over the years, Cahill’s scholarly writings and collaborative projects with other prominent Chinese art specialists have played an important role in the development of Chinese art history studies internationally. A specialist in Chinese painting, he has worked on major artists and their masterworks as well as lesser known painters, thereby broadly expanding subjects of study.
Born in 1926 at Fort Bragg, California, Cahill received his B.A. in Oriental Languages from University of California Berkeley (1950), followed by his M.A. (1952) and PhD (1958) in art history from the University of Michigan. In 1956 he traveled to Stockholm to work with Osvald Siren, a renowned Swedish scholar (and first recipient of the Freer Medal) on his monumental seven–volume Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles.
Later that year (1956) Cahill joined the Freer as curator of Chinese art. Destined for a leading role in the research and interpretation of Chinese painting, Cahill painstakingly surveyed the Freer’s extensive collection, leaving detailed observations that are still regularly quoted today. Working with colleagues John A. Pope, Rutherford J. Gettens, and Noel Barnard, he also produced the landmark publication, The Freer Chinese Bronzes (Smithsonian Institution, 1967), a work centered on the museum’s important collection of archaic Chinese ritual vessels.
In 1965 Cahill returned to California to join the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley, where he taught until his retirement in 1994. In 1973 he was a member of the esteemed “Chinese Archaeology Delegation,” the first group of art historians to visit China from the U.S., and in 1977 he returned to China as chairman of the “Chinese Old Painting Delegation,” which was given unprecedented access to painting collections there. He has received two Distinguished Lifetime achievement awards from the College Art Association and is currently professor emeritus in the History of Art department at UC Berkeley.
Oleg Grabar (2001)
Sherman E. Lee (1998)
Alexander Soper (1990)
Stella Kramrisch (1985)