Metropolitan Museum Holds Private Vigil for Walter Liedtke

The gathering was for staff and close friends.

Liedtke. Courtesy

The Metropolitan Museum of Art confirmed that yesterday it held a gathering for staff in honor of its beloved curator Walter Liedtke who was killed on Tuesday in the Metro-North train crash. (See Tragedy as Metropolitan Museum Curator Walter Liedtke Killed in Metro-North Train Crash, Remembering Walter Liedtke, and In Honor of Curator Walter Liedtke, Vermeer’s ‘View of Delft’ at the Mauritshuis is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik.)

In addition to the gathering yesterday, which included some close friends, the museum also posted on its website a tribute to Liedtke, which said, in part:

Walter was an original. Always nattily dressed, his hair just so and his mustache perfect, he seemed to have emerged from another era rather than from an office on the second floor. He was, of course, one of the world’s leading scholars of Dutch and Flemish paintings, deeply devoted to his collection, which included the Met’s legendary Rembrandts and Vermeers. He knew those pictures like old friends, and described them with an intimacy and spirit that was mesmerizing. In fact, his distinctive voice was among his unique characteristics: careful and deliberate, but somehow lyrical in its unhurried measure. And he had opinions: deep, strong, expressive opinions. Those opinions and his vigor in delivering them will be among the many things that we will miss.

Art historian and Old Masters dealer Robert Simon, who was a research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when Liedtke arrived and had known Liedtke professionally for years, said that Walter had a great ability to interpret the art both on a scholarly and on a more popular level. “He loved the art, loved to study it, loved to talk about it,” Simon told artnet News over email. “Whether it was in a serious collection catalogue geared to specialists or a public lecture, the enthusiasm to communicate was always there. And of course he had phenomenal examples of the greatest Dutch artists to play with. His exhibitions on Rembrandt and Vermeer were nothing short of triumphs.  His public persona was formal, a bit austere, and very serious, but he was generous, witty, and warm. He was hugely respected and will be much missed.”


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