Academic Pedigree

The Collection of J. Benjamin Townsend

The present lot was originally owned by multifaceted scholar and art historian, J. Benjamin Townsend. Townsend, originally from Stillwater, New York, acquired his bachelor’s degree from Princeton, a master’s degree from Harvard and later, his doctorate from Yale University. Over the years, the ivy-league academic taught at both Yale and at the University of North Carolina, and beginning in 1957, he accepted a position as professor of art and literature at the State University of New York, Buffalo where he would ultimately spend the majority of his career. In addition to teaching, Townsend served as art critic for The Buffalo News, editor and compiler of Nineteenth Century American Painting and Painters, and as the founding assistant director of the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in addition to serving on the advisory council for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Academic and professional accomplishments aside, he is quoted as saying that he took “more pride in the contributions made by my students.” Townsend is the author of numerous publications on the arts and literature, and his papers related to American painter Clyfford Still and correspondences with artists including William Ronald, John Opper and Richard Stankiewicz are held in the Archives of American Art.