John Max Rosenfield of Cambridge, Massachusetts, formerly of Arlington and Brookline, died from complications of a stroke at the age of 89 on December 16, 2013. He served at Harvard University for more than twenty-five years as professor and curator of Asian art until he retired in 1991. In 1971 he was appointed Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of East Asian Art. With special interest in Buddhist arts, he traveled frequently in India, Thailand, China, Korea, and Japan. He was a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students who became the next generation of Asian art scholars, many of whom now serve as professors of Asian art and curators of collections of Asian art in major museums. A native of Dallas, Texas and the son of John M. Rosenfield, Jr., journalist and arts critic of the Dallas Morning News, John attended the University of Texas, Austin, until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War II. His first trips to Asia were in military service in the China-Burma-India theater and in Korea and Japan during the Korean War. His bachelors degrees are from the University of California, Berkeley (Thai language, Asian studies) and from Southern Methodist University, Dallas (studio art); he earned a master's degree from the University of Iowa and his doctorate in art history from Harvard (1959). He served as chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard, acting director of the Harvard University Art Museums, trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and member of the Board of Directors, Japan Society of New York. John received international recognition for his scholarship. His awards include the Charles Lang Freer Medal for distinguished contribution to the knowledge and understanding of Oriental civilizations as reflected in their arts from the Smithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery of Art (2012), the Yamagata Banto prize (2001), and the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Government for services to mutual understanding between the United States and Japan (1988). After John retired in 1991, he continued to write, lecture, and advise on Japanese art. Recent books include Portraits of Cho-gen: The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan (2011) and Unrivalled Splendor: The Kimiko and John Powers Collection of Asian Art (2012). John and his wife Ella Ruth Hopper Rosenfield lived in Arlington, Massachusetts for more than 40 years. They had two children, Sarah Rosenfield of San Marcos, California and Paul Thomas Rosenfield, deceased. Burial services are private. Contributions in Johns name may be sent to the World Monuments Fund, www.wmf.org, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2412, New York, New York 10118.
Published in The Cambridge Chronicle from Dec. 17 to Dec. 24, 2013