“The Unreluctant Master:” A Memorial for Robert G. Ousterhout

“The Unreluctant Master”A Memorial for Robert G. Ousterhout

Thursday, May 30, 2024, 7:00pm (Greece) | 12:00pm (U.S. EDT)

Cotsen Hall

9, Anapiron Polemou Street, 106 76 Athens, & Online

The Gennadius Library is inviting you to a memorial for the late Robert G. Ousterhout, a world expert on Byzantine art and architecture and a great friend of the Gennadius Library and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.A professor devoted to his students, a prolific scholar committed to understanding every minute construction detail, a considerate mentor to students and colleagues alike, an enthusiastic and erudite guide on the field, a keen proponent of faithful restoration, Professor Ousterhout dedicated many years of his life to the restoration of Byzantine monuments in Constantinople, to the exploration of the landscape and monuments of Cappadocia, and to the investigation of the development of Byzantine art and architecture in both regional and global contexts.Charalambos Bakirtzis, Maria Georgopoulou, Eunice Dauterman Maguire and Henry Maguire, Stratis Papaioannou, Scott Redford, Brian Rose and Bonna Wescoat as well as friends, students and colleagues from Greece and the United States will come together in Athens to celebrate his life and reflect on his legacy.

Join on Zoom

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In Memoriam: Anthony Cutler (1934–2024)

In memory of Anthony Cutler (1934–2024), please see below and online a commemoration from Dumbarton Oaks and members of the Penn State community.

From PSU Department Chair, Robin Thomas:”It is with great sadness that I share Tony Cutler passed away last night at the age of 90. Though his health declined over this past year, every time I saw him Tony remained as curious about the department as ever. He celebrated every accomplishment, asked about lectures, and gently nudged aside my more “platitudinous” (his words) conversation to find out the most interesting news. He loved his work, the people he worked with, and was a scholar to the end. I will share any plans to commemorate his life as they become available as well as an obituary when it is ready.”

We also note a social media photo and post by the PSU Art History Department: “We are sorry to share that Evan Pugh University Professor Emeritus Anthony Cutler died on Thursday, May 16. A member of the Penn State faculty for 51 years, Professor Cutler was an internationally renowned scholar of Byzantine art and an influential teacher and mentor throughout his career.”

Via Dumbarton Oaks:
“The scholarly community at Dumbarton Oaks is saddened to learn of the death of Anthony Cutler, who passed away on May 16 at the age of 90. “Tony” to friends, he had a keen eye for the material foundations of Byzantine art and its historical contextualization—and an acerbic wit that endeared him to many. He will be sorely missed.
Following studies at Cambridge (Master of Arts, 1960) and Emory (PhD, 1963), Cutler took posts at Morehouse College and Emory before settling as a lone outpost of Byzantium at Penn State in 1967, where he remained for the duration of his career.
His involvement with Dumbarton Oaks extended over forty years. In 1975–76, he was a research fellow; in 1982–83, 1989–90, and again in 1998–99, he was a fellow; he was symposiarch (with Angeliki Laiou) for “Realities in the Arts of the Medieval Mediterranean, 800–1500” in 2002; and he was a visiting scholar in 2013–14. His fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks were in addition to those held at virtually every prestigious institution in the world: the Institute for Advanced Study, the American Academy in Rome, the National Gallery of Art, and so on.

Known primarily for his expertise in Byzantine ivory carving (and his distinctive pipe), Cutler was really so much more: his scholarly interests extended across Byzantine art and iconography, encompassing paintings, coins, even manuscripts (which, following the development of an allergy to parchment, he described as “nasty bits of animal skin”). His books ranged from narrow topics in art history to broad topics in cultural history, and his numerous articles covered everything in between. Questions of authenticity were particularly interesting to him, and he was one of the earliest scholars to perceive that forgeries were in themselves objects of great interest and worthy of scholarly attention.

Lastly, he was one of the lead editors of the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium and instrumental in that major undertaking’s success. According to Cutler himself, Alexander Kazhdan approached him for the task by saying “Tony, you write the art history, I can do everything else.” Perhaps the story says a lot about Kazhdan, but it says a lot about Tony, too.”

In memoriam: Harry J. Magoulias

In memory of Harry J. Magoulias

March 25, 2024

This obituary was published on the Wayne State University History Department website.

Harry J. Magoulias, professor emeritus of Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan, passed away peacefully at home in Del Mar, California on Feb. 19, 2024.

Magoulias taught in the history department from 1965 to 1990. As a specialist in Byzantine history, he was one of the first scholars trained in the U.S. to publish an overview of the empire and its civilization, “Byzantine Christianity: Emperor, Church and the West” (1970). His subsequent publications were annotated translations of key witnesses to the conquest of Constantinople in the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. His “Decline and Fall of Byzantium to the Ottoman Turks” (1975), the translation of Doukas’ “Historia Turco-Byzantina,” made a uniquely valuable account of the events leading up to and succeeding the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 available to an Anglophone readership. Similarly, the single most important eyewitness account of the Fourth Crusade, “O City of Byzantium” (1984), made the capacious annals of Niketas Choniates accessible to a wider readership, thereby stimulating a more complex and nuanced understanding of relations between Byzantium and the Latin West. Additionally, he published thirteen articles that are listed on his page at the website Academia.edu.

In his later years, Magoulias published a book of short stories, “I Tell You What Love Is” (1993), which captures colorful vignettes of the Greek-American experience of his past generation.

Magoulias was born in Baltimore, MD in 1925, to parents who had emigrated from the Sparta, Lakonia region of Greece. His father was a Greek Orthodox priest, which proved decisive in the career trajectory of his son.

As a result, Magoulias was directed to the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he was ordained a priest. There his interest in Byzantine theology and culture was awakened, and while serving as a parish priest in Detroit in the 1950s, he started taking classes at Wayne State University, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees. A promising student, his professors persuaded him to pursue a Ph.D., and with their support, he received a full scholarship to Harvard, and was subsequently a research fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, where he completed his Ph.D. thesis, “The Lives of the Saints as Sources of Data for Sixth and Seventh Century Byzantine Social and Economic History” (1961).

In addition to his scholarship as a noted Byzantinist, he was pivotal in designing the Byzantine mosaics and stained glass windows of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead, Long Island, where his brother was the priest. Completed in 1979, the new artwork inaugurated an interest in decorating American Orthodox churches with authentic Byzantine iconography. The highlight of the work of St. Paul’s is a remarkable mosaic rendering of the Anastasis fresco from the Church of Chora in present-day Istanbul.

Professor Magoulias is survived by his wife, Ariadne, sons, Konstantin and Michael and grandchildren Maximus, Marcus, Genevieve and Harry, as well as nieces and nephews.

In memoriam: Cecil L. Striker

In memoriam: Aristeides Papadakis

Please note the following obituary, commemorating Dr. Aristeides Papadakis (August 1, 1936-September 16, 2023). The text below is from the website of Devol Funeral Home, where friends and family can leave a message on the digital tribute wall.

“Dr. Aristeides Papadakis fell asleep in the Lord on September 16, 2023. He was born August 1, 1936, to Michael and Stephania Papadakis in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. He moved to New York City with his parents as a young child. He graduated from Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts and continued his studies at Fordham University earning a scholarship to study at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C. After completing his PhD, he became a professor at the University of Maryland.

Professor Papadakis was a scholar of Byzantine, medieval, and religious history. He was the author of several books and many articles on the history and theology of the Eastern Orthodox church, which included being asked to act as editorial consultant and contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. He participated and lectured at international conferences at the invitation of several universities and institutions, including the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences of the Vatican, the Harvard University Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, the University of London, University of Cyprus, and Fordham.

Aristeides is survived by his sister in law, Georgia, nieces Anna (David) and Xanthe, his nephew Michael (Carmen), great nephew Cole, and great niece Zoe (Niranjan).

He was a devoted member of the community of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Georgetown.

Friends and family will always remember Aristeides for his gracious manners and gentle spirit.

A memorial service will take place at 10:30 a.m. on September 25th at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington DC.

Interment at Rock Creek Cemetery immediately following.”

In Memoriam: Vera Zalesskaya (1938 – 2023)

V.N. Zalesskaya, Dr. habil., was a leading researcher in The State Hermitage Museum’s Oriental Department and a curator of the collection of Byzantine Applied Art. She worked in the Hermitage for 62 years—from 1961 to 2023—first as a museum guide and then as a full-time postgraduate student. She entered the Oriental Department in 1965 as a researcher and was later a curator of the collection of Byzantine Applied Art (between 1984 and 2023). For several years she also held the post of Head of the Sector of Byzantium and the Near East.

Black and white photo of a woman wearing glasses and a patterned sweater.
Vera Zalesskaya

Vera Nikolaevna Zalesskaya was born on September 17, 1938 in the city of Morshansk, in the Tambov Region of Russia, to accomplished parents. Her father, Nikolai Nikolaevich Zalessky, was a historian and specialist in the history of Ancient Rome. He worked as a professor at Leningrad University. Her mother, Vera Vatslavovna Zalesskaya, was a doctor who worked at the Filatov Hospital in Leningrad.

Vera began her history education in 1956. After graduating from high school in Leningrad, she was accepted by the Faculty of History into Leningrad University where she received fundamental practical knowledge in the archeology of the Middle Ages. While studying there, she participated for four field seasons of work on the Galicia-Volyn architectural and archaeological expedition led by Professor Mikhail Karger.

Vera began her initial work with The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg after graduating from the Department of Art History in June of 1961 with honors granted by the Faculty of History of the Leningrad University (named after A.A. Zhdanov). She was then sent by the Ministry of Culture of the USSR to work in The State Hermitage Museum as a museum guide. In August of that year, she was enrolled as a contractor museum guide in the Hermitage Excursion Department.

After this experience, she was accepted as a full-time postgraduate student at the Oriental Department of The State Hermitage Museum in November 1962, specializing in the history of Byzantium. She successfully completed her postgraduate studies at The State Hermitage Museum in 1965. In May of 1965 she transferred from the Excursion Department to the Oriental Department of the Hermitage as a researcher. (Later, after the death of Alice Bank in 1984, she would become a curator of the collection of Byzantine Applied Art). Between 1962 and 1970, Vera prepared a dissertation titled, “Syrian Artistic Metal of the Byzantine Period and its Historical Significance (to the role of Syria in the applied art of Byzantium).” Vera Zalesskaya was awarded the degree of PhD in history by the decision of the Scholarly Council of the Faculty of History of the Leningrad University on December 10, 1970.

Beyond her PhD training, Dr. Zalesskaya’s career continued with additional advanced education and a number of publications. In 1997 she published a compact monograph, Applied Art of Byzantium of the 4th – 12th Centuries (including 59 pages, with 41 illustrations), which she also defended as a dissertation. She was awarded a Dr. habil. degree in 1998 by the Faculty of History of Moscow State University (which was named after M.V. Lomonosov).

In her career, Vera Zalesskaya was the author of numerous articles on the culture and art of Byzantium that were published in Russian scholarly journals, yearbooks, and collections of articles, as well as in English and French. These include several substantial catalogs published by The State Hermitage Museum. Monuments of Byzantine Applied Arts of the 4th– 7th Centuries: Catalog of the Hermitage Collection (271 pages with illustrations) was published in 2006. In 2011 she published Masterpieces of Byzantine Applied Art: Byzantine Ceramics of the 9th – 15th centuries: Catalog of the Collection (254 pages, including illustrations). Byzantine Artistic Metalwork, Ninth-Fifteenth Centuries: Catalog of the Collection (207 pages, with illustrations) was published in 2021.

From 1991 to 2022 Vera was a scholarly editor and co-editor of The State Hermitage Museum’s Proceedings on Byzantium, titled “Byzantium within the Context of World Culture.” From the 1970s onward she participated in the International Congresses of Byzantine Studies, presenting several papers. As a curator at the Hermitage, she took part in various exhibitions on Byzantine art in the Hermitage and other museums of the USSR/ Russia, as well as in museums of Europe and the USA. She was a co-curator of The Road to Byzantium: Luxury Arts of Antiquity, an exhibition at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, England in 2006.

On July 29, 2023, Dr. Vera Zalesskaya passed away after a brief illness. She is remembered by colleagues for her 62 years as a generous curator at the Hermitage and for her archaeological work at the medieval site at Chersonesos.

In memoriam: Robert G. Ousterhout

It is with sorrow that we mark the passing of Robert G. Ousterhout (January 16, 1950–April 23, 2023).  Bob, as he was universally known, was an esteemed, prolific scholar, a generous mentor, an invaluable colleague, and a beloved friend.

Bob was a strong supporter of BSANA, serving multiple terms on the Governing Board, and was a constant presence at the annual conference, which he twice hosted. He had long associations with Dumbarton Oaks, where he was both a Junior and Senior Scholar, and was twice a symposiarch for the annual Symposium. He was also closely affiliated with ANAMED, serving on the first Advisory Board, and organizing the “Cappadocia in Context” summer program, where students learned in the field, from the master himself. He was an ally for imperiled monuments, serving as a consultant for many international entities, including UNESCO and the WMF.

Bob taught at the University of Oregon, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and the University of Pennsylvania until his retirement in 2017. He is the author, or co-author, of more than 20 books, as well as countless articles, reviews, op-eds, blog posts, and videos. His impact on the field of Byzantine Studies was recognized by the Medieval Academy of America in 2021, with the Haskins Medal.

Bob lived a big life. Whether (allegedly) organizing a water ballet in the Dumbarton Oaks pool while a Junior Fellow, hosting and feeding class after class of students at his home, organizing impromptu dance parties at conferences, or throwing baby showers, Bob celebrated life.  He was funny, insightful, and always generous with his time and influence. He will be missed.

We send our deepest condolences to his family.

For a complete listing of Bob’s publications, see his Emeritus Faculty page at the University of Pennsylvania.

For further remembrances:


Dumbarton Oaks

Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies

Penn History of Art

In memoriam: John W. Nesbitt, PhD

In memoriam: John W. Nesbitt, PhD

June 12, 1939 – February 11, 2023

With heavy hearts, the Dumbarton Oaks research and learning community is sad to announce the passing of John W. Nesbitt, PhD. John first came to Dumbarton Oaks as a junior fellow in 1968 and joined the regular staff in 1973, first as Research Fellow—later Research Associate—with responsibility for the collection of seals. Until his retirement in 2009, John worked to catalogue and publish the collection, resulting in the first six volumes in the Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art (volumes 1–3 with Nicolas Oikonomides, volumes 4–5 with Oikonomides and Eric McGeer). After retirement, John remained involved with Dumbarton Oaks, continuing to advise and mentor scholars interested in Byzantine seals, as he had for over three decades. His generosity and well-judged advice will be deeply missed.

To learn more about John, please visit his obituary.

Information in commemoration of Hans Belting

Information in commemoration of Hans Belting, via A. Kartsonis.

For the obituary of Hans Belting (1935-2023) by Michael Diers posted by ArtHist.net

See: https://arthist.net/archive/38397

For the HANS BELTING LIBRARY at the the Center for Early Medieval Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, as well as for HANS BELTING’s  most complete bibliography to date:




YouTube.com has also posted entries in the name of Hans Belting


In memoriam: Hans Belting

We share the news that Hans Belting passed away after a long illness.

A record of Dr. Belting’s life has been published online:

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