John Rosenfield III
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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,, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2412, New York, New York 10118.

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Published in The Cambridge Chronicle from Dec. 17 to Dec. 24, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
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10 entries
December 16, 2019
Professor Rosenfield changed my life. His direction while in Kyoto directed me to grad school at Harvard, where he facilitated my first publication. I've just had the pleasure of thanking him in the dedication to my newest book The Rhetoric of Death and Discipleship in Premodern Japan. I will never forget his wisdom and kindness.
Mack Horton
December 27, 2014
right to left: John Rosenfield, Julia Meech (sitting), self, Tadashi Kobayashi and Joe Price at the First Hokusai Conference, Venice University 1990
I was deeply touched by the news of John Rosenfield's passing and aggrieved by having found out so late, and not having been able to participate at that time. For this I offer my apologies and participation to his great spirit and to his friends. John has always been ready to help in any initiative to promote culture and the arts. As a younger and little know colleague I deeply appreciated his support and availability to getting involved and even more so in a gendre, ukiyoe, that was not necessarily among his main interests. I shall never forget his generosity with his time, counsel, energy and support at any time. The success of the Venice conferences of Japanese Art and Hokusai in particular were in great debt to his availability and collaborative mind with anybody. His warmth and his care were, and still are for me, a constant stimulus to deepen the understanding of the human values he was a Master in. Thank you John your qualities and your "style" will always be a shining North Star with me.
Gian Carlo Calza
May 5, 2014
Without having had the honor of meeting him, Dr Rosenfield's writing and research have been a great resource and inspiration in my work and studies. I am so sorry to hear of his passing, and am forever appreciative of his contributions and mentoring of so many great scholars.
Anne Alene
March 18, 2014
what a wonderful teacher and mentor; your joy and humor about art sent waves of influence out around the world. how lucky we were to work with you.
Pia Massie
January 8, 2014
John Rosenfield was the single most inspiring teacher and mentor I have ever had the privilege to know. He delivered some of the first lectures I heard on Japanese Art when he chaperoned some of the first Associated Kyoto Program tours to famous temples (his daughter Sarah was a fellow student that year), and then when I was a graduate student at Harvard, he edited my first publication. During one graduate seminar in Japanese painting, we students were all stumped for an answer to one of his questions. After a long silence, he said, "Come *on*, colleagues." To be addressed by such an authority as a "colleague," however undeservedly, was unforgettable and galvanizing. We all thought of him as a bodhisattva. He was a fine scholar, and a fine human being.
Mack Horton
January 6, 2014
Prof. Rosenfield was an amazing teacher and mentor, brilliant, kind, and inspiring. He will be remembered always.
Emma T.
January 4, 2014
We wish to honor the memory of John Rosenfield with many thanks for his stellar lectures given for the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation! We enjoyed meeting him very much.
Mary Pollock
December 30, 2013
Very dear Jake,

After35 years of you-author--me-editor, even marvelous memories can not fill the hole in my heart. Go well, friend.

Stretszch (Naomi Noble Richard)
December 24, 2013
My condolences to your family..May you draw close to god throuh prayer during this time.
Danielle R.
December 21, 2013
So many fond memories of my adviser and dear friend. Thank you for everything, sensei.
Lawrence Marceau
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