MARY SHERIFF

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  • "Mary was an unforgettable person, generous with her time..."
    - Madelyn Gutwirth
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SHERIFF--Mary D.

Chapel Hill, Mary D. Sheriff, internationally celebrated art historian and beloved teacher, died on October 19 at the age of 66. She specialized in eighteenth-century French art and transformed the field by re-evaluating rococo painting, introducing feminist perspectives, and examining European art in a global context. She published widely on artists such as Fragonard and Vigee-Lebrun, as well as on questions of art and gender. She taught at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill since 1983, was a former chair of the Art Department, and was named W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor in 2005. She was also a central figure in eighteenth-century scholarship as an editor of the journal Eighteenth Century Studies and as a founding member of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art group. Her scholarly achievements were recognized through numerous visiting professorships, invitations to lecture around the globe, awards, and fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEH. She also made a great impact on the field with her teaching. Both undergraduate and graduate students revered her, and she trained many doctoral students, who follow her example of commitment to excellent teaching and scholarship. In addition to her professional work, she was also an avid traveler, bird watcher, and scuba diver. She and her husband Keith Luria were devoted to each other and shared these professional and non-professional passions. Mary Sheriff was born on September 19, 1950 in Plainfield, NJ to Robert William Sheriff and June Leaf. She was educated at Bucknell University and the University of Delaware. She is survived by her husband Keith Luria of Chapel Hill, NC and her father Robert Sheriff of Tarpon Springs, FL. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Mary's memory can make donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the Duke Homecare and Hospice, 4321 Medical Park Drive, Suite 101, Durham, NC 27704. Graveside services will be held on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 10:00am at Markham Memorial Gardens in the Kehillah Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at: hudsonfuneralhome.com.

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Published in The New York Times on Oct. 22, 2016