Walter Liedtke

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Walter Liedtke
BornWalter Arthur Liedtke, Jr.
(1945-08-28)August 28, 1945
Plainfield, New Jersey US
DiedFebruary 3, 2015(2015-02-03) (aged 69)
Valhalla, New York US
Residence Bedford Hills, New York
NationalityUnited States
OccupationArt historian, writer, curator
Years active1974–2015

Walter Arthur Liedtke, Jr. (August 28, 1945 – February 3, 2015) [1] was an American art historian, writer and Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [2] He was known as one of the world's leading scholars of Dutch and Flemish paintings. [1] He died in the 2015 Metro-North Valhalla train crash. [3]

Metropolitan Museum of Art Art museum in New York City, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 6,953,927 visitors to its three locations in 2018, it was the third most visited art museum in the world. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; it extends the museum's modern and contemporary art program.

Metro-North Railroad commuter rail service in New York and Connecticut

The Metro-North Commuter Railroad, trading as MTA Metro-North Railroad or simply Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a public authority of the U.S. state of New York. Metro-North runs service between New York City and its northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut, including Port Jervis, Spring Valley, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, and Wassaic in New York and Stamford, New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury, and New Haven in Connecticut. Metro-North also provides local rail service within the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.

Valhalla train crash train crash in New York on February 3, 2015

On the evening of February 3, 2015, a commuter train on Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line struck a passenger car at a grade crossing near Valhalla, New York, United States, between the Valhalla and Mount Pleasant stations, killing six people and injuring 15 others, seven very seriously. The crash is the deadliest in Metro-North's history, as well as at the time the deadliest rail accident in the United States since the June 2009 Washington Metro train collision, which killed eight passengers and injured 80.


Early life

Liedtke was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, [4] and grew up in Livingston, New Jersey. [4] Liedtke studied Art History, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967 from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a Master of Arts degree in 1969 at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. [5] He received a Doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Liedtke said that his interest in Dutch paintings began because he was focused on images as a child from hours and hours of watching a lot of TV. [6] He described his aesthetic as that of having a focus on how he responded to visual patterns compared to a more typical perspective focused on story and narratives. [6]

Newark, New Jersey City in Essex County, New Jersey, U.S.

Newark is the most populous city in the U.S. state of New Jersey and the seat of Essex County. As one of the nation's major air, shipping, and rail hubs, the city had a population of 285,154 in 2017, making it the nation's 70th-most populous municipality, after being ranked 63rd in the nation in 2000.

Livingston, New Jersey Township in New Jersey, United States

Livingston is a township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 29,366, reflecting an increase of 1,975 (+7.2%) from the 27,391 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 782 (+2.9%) from the 26,609 counted in the 1990 Census.

Rutgers University multi-campus American public research university in New Jersey, United States

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, commonly referred to as Rutgers University, Rutgers, or RU, is a public research university in New Jersey. It is the largest institution of higher education in New Jersey.



Liedtke planned on a career in academia. [2] For two years Liedtke taught at the Florida State University, then at the University's villa in Florence. In 1974 he was working at the Courtauld Institute in London on his PhD dissertation, "Architectural painting in Delft, 1650–1675," [7] in which he discussed work of Gerrit Houckgeest, Pieter Saenredam, Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet and Emmanuel de Witte. [8] From 1975 till 1979 he joined the faculty at Ohio State University.

Florida State University university in the United States

Florida State University is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university in Tallahassee, Florida. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851, it is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida.

Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet painter from the Northern Netherlands

Hendrick Corneliszoon van Vliet was a Dutch Golden Age painter remembered mostly for his church interiors.

Ohio State University public research university in Columbus, Ohio, United States

The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State or OSU, is a large public research university in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and the ninth university in Ohio with the Morrill Act of 1862, the university was originally known as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (Mech). The college began with a focus on training students in various agricultural and mechanical disciplines but it developed into a comprehensive university under the direction of then-Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, and in 1878 the Ohio General Assembly passed a law changing the name to "The Ohio State University". It has since grown into the third-largest university campus in the United States. Along with its main campus in Columbus, Ohio State also operates regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and Wooster.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

After receiving a Mellon Fellowship he began studying at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he was appointed in 1980 as curator and would spend the rest of his career. He organized numerous exhibitions, wrote seven books, including several on Rembrandt and Vermeer, and produced catalogues of the Museum's Dutch and Flemish paintings.

Rembrandt 17th-century Dutch painter and printmaker

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch draughtsman, painter and printmaker. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history. Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt's works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch art, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres. Like many artists of the Dutch Golden Age, such as Jan Vermeer of Delft, Rembrandt was also an avid art collector and dealer.

Liedtke served as a curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for thirty-five years. Liedtke specialized in the paintings of Vermeer and the Delft School. The 2001 Liedtke-curated show, "Vermeer and the Delft School" was said to be the most popular art exhibition that year, attracting 555,000 visitors during its three-month run. [9]

Delft School (painting)

The Delft School is a category of mid-17th-century Dutch Golden Age painting named after its main base, Delft. It is best known for genre painting: images of domestic life, views of households, church interiors, courtyards, squares and the streets of that city. Carel Fabritius and Nicolaes Maes are seen as the originators of these localised specialties in the 1640s that were continued in the 1650s by Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer is the most famous of these painters today. The architectural interiors of Gerard Houckgeest, Emanuel de Witte and Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet are also notable contributions. Besides the genres most closely associated with Delft painters, artists in the city continued to produce still life and history paintings, portraits for patrons and the court, and decorative pieces of art that reflect more general tendencies in Dutch art of the period.

At the time of his death he was preparing a catalogue of the museum's collection of Spanish paintings of the 15th to 18th century. [10]

Most recently, he worked on "El Greco in New York," a collaborative project that was co-curated with Keith Christiansen, [11] with the Hispanic Society of America and the Frick Collection held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from November 4, 2014 to February 1, 2015. [12]

Personal life

Liedtke was married to Nancy Liedtke a math teacher, artist, and equestrienne. [4] He commuted daily from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side neighborhood of New York City to what he called "the countryside," Bedford Hills, New York in Westchester County. [6] He said that he thought there was something "Dutch" about the way he lived: the idyllic countryside, his 100-year-old home, and his art collection, which he said was quintessentially Dutch in character. [6]


Along with five others, Liedtke died in the February 3, 2015 Metro-North crash, [13] [14] at the age of 69. [2] [15] Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, described him as "one of the most distinguished scholars of Dutch and Flemish painting in the world." [2] Many in the art and museum community posted reflections and appreciation of Liedtke's work. [16] [17] Memorial statements were widespread, and were both local [18] and international in scope. [4] [19] [20]


Works and publications



Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 Campbell, Thomas P. (5 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke, Our Friend and Distinguished Colleague (1945–2015)". The Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Kennedy, Randy (4 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke, Curator at Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dies at 69". The New York Times . Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  3. Tyler, Dana (4 February 2015). "Art Curator Among Those Killed In Valhalla Metro-North Accident" (TV program). CBS2 New York . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Dickey, Stephanie (February 2015). "In Memoriam: Walter A. Liedtke (1945–2015)". Historians of Netherlandish Art. Archived from the original on 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  5. Miller, Stephen (4 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke, Met Museum Curator, Vermeer Expert, Dies at 69". Bloomberg . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Liedtke, Walter (2011). "Connections: Living with Vermeer" (Multimedia presentation). The Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  7. Liedtke, Walter A. Jr. (1974). "Architectural Paintings in Delft: 1650–1675" (Thesis (PhD))|format= requires |url= (help). University of London (Courtauld Institute of Art). OCLC   272495491.
  8. Schwartz, Gary (7 February 2015). "The Young Walter Liedtke". The Schwartzlist. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  9. Feldman, Harry (5 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke, 1945–2015". Art in America . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  10. Jeromack, Paul (4 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke, Met's curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings, killed in train crash". The Art Newspaper . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  11. Rosenbaum, Lee (6 February 2015). ""Deep, Strong Opinions": Met Director Tom Campbell's Remembrances of Curator Walter Liedtke". CultureGrrl: Lee Rosenbaum's cultural commentary. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  12. "Walter Liedtke: 1945–2015". Apollo Magazine . 5 February 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  13. Chung, Jen (4 February 2015). "Cuomo Calls Fatal Metro-North Crash "As Gruesome As I Have Seen"". Gothamist . Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  14. Celona, Larry; Harshbarger, Rebecca; Rosario, Frank; Cohen, Shawn (3 February 2015). "6 dead after Metro-North train collides with SUV". New York Post . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  15. Martinez, Alanna (4 February 2015). "Met Museum Curator Walter Liedtke Killed in Metro-North Valhalla Train Crash". New York Observer . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  16. Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. (6 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke: A Reflection and Appreciation". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  17. Rosenbaum, Lee (4 February 2015). "Walter Liedtke, Consummate Curator of Dutch and Flemish Painting, Dies in a Train Crash (with my late video at the Met)". CultureGrrl: Lee Rosenbaum's cultural commentary. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  18. Lopate, Leonard (6 February 2015). "Tribute: Walter Liedtke" (Audio interviews). The Leonard Lopate Show . WNYC . Retrieved 4 April 2015. Includes 2009 interview on Vermeer and 2007 interview on Rembrandt
  19. Kloos, Robert (4 February 2015). "In Memoriam: Walter Liedtke, Curator of European Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art". Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands . Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  20. "HNA Remembers Walter Liedtke". Historians of Netherlandish Art. February 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2015-04-04.