John Pope-Hennessy

John Pope-Hennessy

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John Pope-Hennessy

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Sir John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy <small>CBE FBA FSA</small> (13 December 1913 – 31 October 1994) was an English art historian and museum director. He was a scholar of Italian Renaissance art. Many of his writings, including the tripartite Introduction to Italian Sculpture and his magnum opus, Donatello: Sculptor, are now considered classics in the field.

Pope-Hennessy was born in Belgravia, London, to Major-General Richard Pope-Hennessy and Dame Una Pope-Hennessy (née Birch). He was the eldest of two sons; his younger brother James Pope-Hennessy was a writer of note. He was educated at Downside School and read modern history at Balliol College, Oxford. At Oxford he was introduced by Logan Pearsall Smith (a family friend) to Kenneth Clark, who became a mentor to the young Pope-Hennessy. Upon graduation Pope-Hennessy embarked on what he referred to as his Wanderjahre, travelling in continental Europe and becoming acquainted with its great art collections, both public and private.Pope-Hennessy served as the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1967 and 1973, and then as the director of the British Museum from 1974 until 1976. His nickname to staff was "the Pope".

Traumatised by the murder of his brother James, Pope-Hennessy left the British Museum after only three years as director. Initially he withdrew to Tuscany, but was enticed by an offer from Metropolitan Museum of Art to head its department of European painting, and moved to New York....
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