Connecticut College Magazine · Summer 2004


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Charles T. Price: brilliant, gentle, unforgettable

Charles T. Price: brilliant, gentle, unforgettable
Charles T. Price
Professor Emeritus of Art History

Professor Emeritus of Art History

My fondest memories of Charles Price began with the first meeting at Smith-Burdick House — there he was — very tall and well above the crowd, dressed in a suit, sporting a string bowtie, rocking and swaying on his large feet, and regaling us “new students” with wonderfully amusing stories, even though “orientation” was the issue of the day. However, Charles’s stories were far more memorable and offered up orientation in another way. Ultimately, it made all of Charles’s advisees feel right at home in our new unfamiliar place. That calming, order-providing gift — as we explored unfamiliar terrain — I came to learn — was one that Charles gave repeatedly to his many friends, ranging from the intellectual and artistic to the sybaritic.

When I came to Connecticut College I had wanted to become an art historian. Charles was my first teacher in the subject, with “Ancient Art.” All of Charles’s classes were a delight, from “Chinese Art” to one considering late 19th-century “decadence” movements — in seminar. Charles was the only teacher I ever had who pointed to our right slide with his right hand, and our left slide with his left hand, ending up criss-crossed and amused, while we scribbled away at our notes and laughed along with him. Charles made the material fascinating, and he got to the essence of what the art movements were about, which made for an enduring understanding and love for the subject. I took eight courses with him, went abroad when Charles went on sabbatical, and like some others, developed a strong taste for British Art under his care — Pre-Raphaelitism, William Morris and 19th-century Gothic being highlights.

While at college, one of the best events was a surprise visit to Charles’s house. Was it April Fool’s day, or Charles’s birthday ? In any case, we students all dressed up in costumes drawn from our course with Charles. Rachel Carley ’76 was Yang Kwei Fe [an infamous concubine] Hatsy Tuttle ’76 was wrapped in toilet paper as a mummy and she was borne by Rob Donaldson ’77 and myself on crossed arms — like a litter. There were more of us — I cannot remember them all. Well, Charles let us in, and we had cocktails and laughed for hours. Rachel had a very loud laugh too. It was a fabulous evening. A year or two later, when we were graduating Charles also made all of us a truly delicious roast beef dinner at his apartment, another great evening of much fun and hearty laughter.

After I left college, I made regular pilgrimages to ‘Barph Acres’ — Charles’s acronym for his wonderful summer home in Harrington, Maine. It gave Greek Revival new meaning and richness for me — living as we did closer to the amenity levels of its 19th-century constructors than our own “posh” era. Joyce Burgess [his next-door neighbor] grew raspberries for us in huge abundance, baked blueberry buckle pies and provided us with all the stories of local life we could ever need. Charles was also a huge fan of picnics — which in Maine under his care were a fabulous experience. Preparations always included French cookbooks or an Alice B. Toklas chocolate recipe, a wicker basket, endless chatter about artists or locals or art movements. Two weeks could pass in no time, and you wanted to stay all summer. I just kept coming back. The house decayed quietly in the background, but Charles and his lucky guests never cared.
Charles was an utterly unique and marvelous character. Brilliant, gentle, wise, insightful, amusing, outrageous, artistically talented, a mentor and friend to so many people — he will be sorely missed and shall remain unforgettable — etched like drypoint burr on our minds.

Christopher W. London ’76 made these remarks at a memorial service April 3 in Harkness Chapel.

Donations may be made to the Charles T. Price Fund for Special Collections administered by the art history department and Shain Library, c/o Professor Barbara Zabel or Laurie Deredita.

A watercolor of Hadley, Mass. by Charles Price is among work now part of special collections at Shain Library.

Charles T. Price
Professor Emeritus of Art History

1923 - Born in Boston, Mass., February 28
1954 - Earns B.S. from Tufts College
1955-60 Teaches at Tufts
1962-65 Teaches at Hartford Art School
1962 - Earns M.A. from Yale University
1965 - Begins teaching at Connecticut College
1967 - Earns Ph.D. from Yale University
1975 - Promoted to full professor
1991 - Retires from Connecticut College
2003 - Dies November 21
2004 - Memorial Service in Harkness Chapel, April 3

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