A scholar and teacher, John Walker McCoubrey was a professor of the history of art for 35 years at the University of Pennsylvania, after teaching for seven years at Yale University. He passed away February 6, 2010, at age 86.
He received many honors including Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, and Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He became the University’s first James and Nan Farquhar Professor of the History of Art in 1988.
He wrote widely on American, English and French art from the 18th through the 20th centuries. His publications include the influential book American Tradition in Painting, numerous articles on the English painter J.M.W. Turner, and several essays for museum exhibition catalogues.
He played a central role in guiding and shaping the department of the history of art at Penn where he was “beloved and respected by students and colleagues alike,” said department chair Holly Pittman.
An active figure in the Philadelphia arts community, he was a trustee of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, served on the Painting and Sculpture Committee and the Committee for 20th Century Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and served on the Board of Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
He received his PhD in 1957 from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and his BA from Harvard College in 1947, after serving as an Ensign in the Navy during WWII.
He is survived by his wife Bettsy; children Stephen, Daniel, John, Hannah, Sarah, Peter; and 13 grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the John McCoubrey and Malcolm Campbell Student Travel Funds, History of Art Department, University of Pennsylvania, Jaffe Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104.