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John Harris (curator)

John Harris (curator)

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John Frederick Harris OBE (born 1931) is an English curator, historian of architecture, gardens and architectural drawing
Architectural drawing
An architectural drawing or architect's drawing is a technical drawing of a building that falls within the definition of architecture...

s, and the author of more than 25 books and catalogues, and 200 articles. He is a Fellow and Curator Emeritus of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects
Royal Institute of British Architects
The Royal Institute of British Architects is a professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom, but also internationally.-History:...

, founding Trustee of SAVE Britain's Heritage
SAVE Britain's Heritage
SAVE Britain's Heritage has been described as the most influential conservation group to have been established since William Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. It was created in 1975 - European Architectural Heritage Year - by a group of journalists,...

 and SAVE Europe's Heritage, and founding member and Honorary Life President of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums
International Confederation of Architectural Museums
The International Confederation of Architectural Museums is an organisation of architectural museums, centres and collections, dedicated to fostering links between all those interested in promoting the better understanding of architecture....

.

Career


John Harris left school at the age of 14 in 1946. He travelled and took on miscellaneous jobs, before starting his proper career in 1954 working in an antiques shop, Collin and Winslow. In 1956 he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects
Royal Institute of British Architects
The Royal Institute of British Architects is a professional body for architects primarily in the United Kingdom, but also internationally.-History:...

 (RIBA) Library and Drawings Collection in London, becoming curator of its British Architectural Library's Drawings Collection from 1960–86. This included the establishment in 1972 of a permanent home for the Drawings Collection in the James Adam designed house at 21 Portman Square (moved to the V&A Henry Cole Wing in 2002), next door to and sharing with the Courtauld Institute at Home House, 20 Portman Square (moved to Somerset House
Somerset House
Somerset House is a large building situated on the south side of the Strand in central London, England, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The central block of the Neoclassical building, the outstanding project of the architect Sir William Chambers, dates from 1776–96. It...

 in 1989). Harris founded and organised 42 exhibitions at the Heinz Gallery, on the ground floor of 21 Portman Square, opened in 1972, designed by Stefan Buzas and Alan Irvine, given by Mr and Mrs Henry J Heinz II, being the first purpose built gallery for the display of
architectural drawings in the English speaking world. The Gallery was purchased in 2000 by the Irish Architectural Archive
Irish Architectural Archive
The Irish Architectural Archive was established in 1976 by Dr Edward McParland and Nicholas Robinson to collect and preserve material of every kind relating to the architecture of Ireland, and make it available to the public...

 and moved in 2003-4 to the ground floor of their relocated premises at 45 Merrion Square, Dublin, which opened to the public in 2005. RIBA's Drawings Collection Gallery was re-established in 2004 as part of the joint V&A and RIBA
Riba
Riba means one of the senses of "usury" . Riba is forbidden in Islamic economic jurisprudence fiqh and considered as a major sin...

 Architecture Partnership, creating the Architecture Gallery in Room 128 at the V&A.

Harris was a co-curator of the seminal Destruction of the Country House exhibition
Destruction of the Country House exhibition
The Destruction of the Country House 1875-1975 was an exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1974, curated byV&A Director Roy Strong with John Harris and Marcus Binney .The exhibition included a "Hall of Destruction", decorated with falling columns and illustrations of some...

 held at the V&A in 1974, with Sir Roy Strong
Roy Strong
Sir Roy Colin Strong FRSL is an English art historian, museum curator, writer, broadcaster and landscape designer. He has been director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London...

 and Marcus Binney
Marcus Binney
Marcus Binney, CBE is a British architectural historian and author. He is best known for his conservation work regarding Britain's heritage.-Early and family life:...

, which gave impetus to the movement to conserve British country houses and the founding in 1975 of SAVE Britain's Heritage
SAVE Britain's Heritage
SAVE Britain's Heritage has been described as the most influential conservation group to have been established since William Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877. It was created in 1975 - European Architectural Heritage Year - by a group of journalists,...

. He was editor of Studies in Architecture 1976–99. In 1996 he was a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Center, Getty Villa
Getty Villa
The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California, USA, is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty Villa is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria...

, Santa Monica. Harris also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Architecture
Canadian Centre for Architecture
The Canadian Centre for Architecture is a museum of architecture and research centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Phyllis Lambert is the Founding Director and Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Mirko Zardini is the Director and Chief Curator....

 in Montreal and the Heinz Architecture Centre in the Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art
The Carnegie Museum of Art, located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an art museum founded in 1895 by the Pittsburgh-based industrialist Andrew Carnegie...

, Pittsburgh. He was a member for ten years of Mr Paul Mellon’s London Acquisitions Committee. Harris worked on the Victoria and Albert Primary Galleries Project (1996–2001). He has been on the Board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation
The Architecture Foundation
The Architecture Foundation was Britain's first independent architecture centre. Established in 1991, it aims to promote contemporary architecture.The Architecture Foundation has organised public exhibitions, design initiatives, competitions and debates....

. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Society of Antiquaries of London
The Society of Antiquaries of London is a learned society "charged by its Royal Charter of 1751 with 'the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries'." It is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London , and is...

. He is an expert on Palladian architecture
Palladian architecture
Palladian architecture is a European style of architecture derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio . The term "Palladian" normally refers to buildings in a style inspired by Palladio's own work; that which is recognised as Palladian architecture today is an evolution of...

, and has written about, among many others, Lord Burlington, William Kent
William Kent
William Kent , born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, was an eminent English architect, landscape architect and furniture designer of the early 18th century.He was baptised as William Cant.-Education:...

 and Sir William Chambers.

Harris is married to American historian and author Dr Eileen Harris
Eileen Harris
Dr Eileen Harris is an American/English architectural historian and author. She is an expert on Robert Adam and is Honorary Librarian and Consultant to the Adam Project at Sir John Soane's Museum in London.-Early and family life:...

 (from circa 1961), has a son, Lucian, and a daughter, Georgina, and lives in London and Badminton, Gloucestershire.

Books – Author (in reverse chronology)




Books – Editor


Books – Exhibition Catalogues


  • Headfort House and Robert Adam
    Robert Adam
    Robert Adam was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam , Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him...

     (1973) Drawings from The Collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon, at the RIBA Heinz Gallery, London.

  • The King's Arcadia: Inigo Jones
    Inigo Jones
    Inigo Jones is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England...

     and the Stuart Court (1973) with Stephen Orgel and Roy Strong, a quatercentenary exhibition at the Banqueting House, Whitehall, London.

Books – Contributor


Books – Introduction

  • Inside Out: Historic Watercolour Drawings, Oil Sketches and Paintings of Interiors and Exteriors 1770–1870 (2000) by Frederick Michael Pick, Stair & Company, ISBN 0953965309, ISBN 978-0953965304. Introduction titled "Architectural Drawings: A Short Historiography".
  • Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British architect... (1967–72), 4 volumes, reproduced works by Colen Campbell
    Colen Campbell
    Colen Campbell was a pioneering Scottish architect who spent most of his career in England, and is credited as a founder of the Georgian style...

    , J. Badeslade, John Rocque
    John Rocque
    John Rocque was a surveyor and cartographer.Rocque was born no later than 1709, since that was the year he moved to England with his parents, who were French Huguenot émigrés...

    , James Gandon
    James Gandon
    James Gandon is today recognised as one of the leading architects to have worked in Ireland in the late 18th century and early 19th century. His better known works include The Custom House, the Four Courts, King's Inns in Dublin and Emo Court in Co...

    , John Woolfe, George Richardson
    George Richardson (architect)
    George Richardson was a Scottish architectural and decorative draftsman and writer on architecture.One of his few remaining architectural works is St Mary Magdalene's Church at Stapleford, Leicestershire, built in 1783 for the Earl of Harborough.His main output, however, was in the form of books...

    , Denise Addis and Paul Breman, published by Benjamin Blom, New York.

Articles

  • A Dying Breed of Connoisseur, The Art Newspaper, April 2002.
  • Diverting Labyrinths, Country Life magazine, 11 January 1990.

Lectures


External links