Obituary and Appreciation – Andy Stewart
Andrew F. Stewart
Nicholas C. Petris Professor of Greek Studies, Emeritus
(Aug. 23, 1948 – Jan. 13, 2023)
Andrew F. Stewart, after a long, challenging, but determined struggle with respiratory disease, passed away on January 13, 2023. His departure leaves a very large gap not only in his departments and the university but in the larger fields of Greek art and archaeology. He is widely acknowledged as among a handful of the most distinguished scholars of Greek sculpture anywhere in the world. Classical civilization has lost one of its most passionate and articulate interpreters.
Andy (as he was known to all) was born in Portsmouth in the UK, and received his BA, MA, and PhD at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. His first full-time teaching post came as Lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand. It was there that he gained his initial experience as an excavator by digging at a Maori settlement in the Otago Province. But his first love, as always, was Hellas. (He had already dug as a student at Knossos in Crete). Andy swiftly made a name for himself, publishing his first book on the Greek sculptor Skopas of Paros at the age of twenty eight and a second one just two years later. This brought him to the attention of the History of Art Department at Berkeley which hired him as an Assistant Professor in 1979, and there he spent the rest of his career, rising to Full Professor in 1986, to a joint appointment with the Classics Department in 1997, and then to the distinguished Nicholas Petris Chair of Greek Studies in 2007, which he held until his retirement in 2019.
Numerous appointments, awards, honors, and distinctions demonstrate Andy’s eminent stature in the field. Among them were posts as Visiting Professor at the Getty Museum, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Berlin, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an ACLS Fellowship, and membership as an Honorary Fellow of The Australian Academy of the Humanities. And finally, in his last year, as capstone of his career, Andy received the coveted Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement from the Archaeological Institute of America, the highest award in the gift of that organization. The presentation was preceded by a Colloquium in his honor, and he made sure to thank each participant with a witty but heartfelt response. His acceptance speech for the Gold Medal was characteristically both lighthearted and moving. Among other things, he made reference to a review of his work that once appeared in Playboy magazine.
Prolific publications issued from Andy’s pen (or computer) over the years: eight books, two edited volumes, more than seventy five articles and fifty reviews, plus numerous contributions to encyclopedias, dictionaries, and publications for the general reader. But numbers do not begin to tell the tale. His two-volume work on Greek Sculpture (1990) is now generally regarded as the most authoritative general treatment of the subject to have appeared in the last generation. It is notable not only for its sweeping survey of the most important surviving works, but also for the precise probing that sets Greek sculpture in its social, cultural, and artistic contexts. His Faces of Power: Alexander’s Image and Hellenistic Politics (1993), which appeared shortly afterwards, is one of the most important books written on Alexander the Great in any scholarly genre in recent decades. Art, Desire, and the Body in Ancient Greece (1997) provides a bold, and innovative approach to a broad range of material evidence in Greek art, informed by a variety of perspectives, including gender studies, semiotic theory, and cultural anthropology, while keeping its feet firmly planted in the empirical testimony. Andy’s Attalos, Athens, and the Acropolis (2004) displays not only his deft grasp of Hellenistic art but his command of Hellenistic history and society. The book’s rich study of the sculptures dedicated by the Pergamene king on the Athenian Acropolis raises central and far-reaching questions for Hellenistic art and cultural history, for the Roman manipulation of monuments for their own national purposes, for the role played by ancient sculptures in vigorous Renaissance discussions among artists and intellectuals, and for the history of subsequent scholarship on ancient art and art theory.
In later years Andy extended his reach to textbook studies of a very high order. His Classical Greece and the Birth of Western Art (2008) and Art in the Hellenistic World: An Introduction (2014) exhibit his extraordinary range and his ability to introduce novel ideas even while providing readable work intended for a wider audience. These books distill Andy’s characteristic approach to ancient art – – his extensive command of the material objects, his sensitive appreciation of style, and his theoretical sophistication – – and make the subject accessible on a broad front. Perhaps most impressive, after establishing himself as the foremost scholar of Hellenistic art, Andy moved into another phase of research of high importance. He devoted himself in recent years to intense work in the Athenian agora on the innumerable unpublished sculptural fragments that he has pieced together and analyzed. And unlike many scholars, he has made his research swiftly available though a series of articles in Hesperia, the principal journal of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. The breathtaking range, industry, and acuity are evident throughout Andy’s scholarly publications.
Andy’s deep respect for Greek artistic creativity came to the fore when he sharply rebuked a group of tourists for posing jokingly with sculptures in the Stoa of Attalus in the Athenian agora—only to laugh later at his own excessive zeal. He was always a congenial companion in Athens not only to scholars and students but also to staff in Athens, always eager to share an amusing story and improve his Modern Greek.
In view of Andy’s reputation, it is no surprise that invitations to give lectures (many of them named lectures) or to speak at conferences poured in unceasingly from places like Paris, Berlin, Athens, Tel Aviv, Princeton, Yale, the British Museum, and the San Francisco Legion of Honor.
It is rare indeed for a scholar of such achievements in Greek art also to be a successful archaeologist which requires a somewhat different set of skills, considerable energy, and no small amount of managerial ability. Yet Andy dedicated twenty years to his work every summer as director of the UC Berkeley excavations at Tel Dor in Israel. As director, he mentored and encouraged young excavators in careful stratigraphic reconstruction, insisted on attention to contextual analysis, and, as his students note, he knew when to step back and let his student trench supervisors make their own decisions and when to enter the trenches himself.
Andy’s accomplishments on the international stage did not prevent him from being an active and engaged member of his campus community. From the time he arrived in Berkeley he was a key member of the Graduate Program in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, the preeminent interdisciplinary program in antiquity in the country. He served as its chair for six years, enhancing its profile in art history and archaeology, introducing a number of significant procedural and administrative reforms. In addition, he served as the chair of the History of Art Department for three years, he was Curator of Mediterranean Archaeology at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology for a decade, and he was a member of the Board of Trustees for the University Art Museum for three years. The campus service was exemplary.
Andy’s outreach too was notable. He was a regular consultant and adviser for exhibitions and acquisitions of ancient art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. And he was one of the four editors of the stunningly successful series of books, Hellenistic Culture and Society, that produced more than fifty volumes for the University of California Press, helping to redefine the field of Hellenistic studies.
By no means the least of Andy’s many contributions to the university is his celebrated prowess as a teacher. His undergraduate art history courses were consistently popular, helping to earn him the university’s coveted Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009. He would usually turn up in class with an enormous wooden pointer, a useful prop for a variety of poses. He was assiduous in the training of graduate students, rigorous and exacting in his demands, yet deeply appreciated and praised by those who came under his tutelage. His teaching went beyond the classroom and the seminars. Andy’s hands-on methods included taking students to work with the classical antiquities at the Hearst Museum, and leading expeditions of students on field trips to museums and collections in the Bay Area and beyond. For forty years graduates and undergraduates gained invaluable first-hand experience with pottery, sculpture, terracotta figurines, and coins. As one of his students reported, her first meeting with Andy, when she was contemplating graduate school, convinced her to come to Berkeley to study with him, “someone who not only seemed to know everything there was to know about Greek sculpture but also wanted to share it with everyone in the smartest way possible.” His close relations with his graduate students are exemplified by the weekly lunches at a local Chinese restaurant, the Mandarin Gardens, that he shared with them every Friday throughout the years, a mixture of serious discussion and light chatter. For the students, the Friday lunch was an institution, often followed by a grilled dinner at his home, significant bonding experiences. And for many years there were annual outings at Heart’s Desire Beach for oyster bakes. Andy’s success as a mentor is no better illustrated than by the doctoral students whom he supervised and who now constitute an outstanding roster of scholars, teaching in some of the top universities of the country: Berkeley, Princeton, Penn, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Wellesley, Oregon, Maryland, as well as the Getty Villa. The legacy is large.
Nor did Andy limit himself to scholarly and teaching enterprises. He was an avid sailor, and could be spotted skippering his sailboat on the Bay every weekend. He was also a music enthusiast and sang in the Pacific Mozart Ensemble that performed regularly in the Bay Area and was once even nominated for a Grammy. Andy sang in the bass section, but on occasion was called upon to sing as baritone, tenor, or even counter-tenor. He made good friends in that ensemble, and more than once traveled with them in Europe, serving as their guide to castles, cathedrals, museums, and innumerable treasures. His sense of humor never flagged. Andy’s puns were notorious, always eliciting appropriate groans. He was also the principal cook for his household. Andy’s scholarly versatility was matched by his multifaceted personal gifts.
Andy Stewart is sorely missed by countless colleagues, students, and friends. The outpouring of tributes through letters, cards, phone calls, and e-mails has been overwhelming. But none will miss him more than his wife Darlis Wood, his children Colin and Caroline, and his three grandchildren.
Erich S. Gruen