Cahill, James, 1926-2014

Alternative names
Birth 1926-08-13
Death 2014-02-14

Biographical notes:

  • 1926: Born, Fort Bragg, CA
  • 1950: Receives BA degree in Oriental Languages from University of California, Berkeley
  • 1952: Receives MA degree in Art History from University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor
  • Circa 1953: Holds a museum training fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
  • 1954 - 1955 : Studies with Shujiro Shimada at Kyoto University in Japan on a Fulbright Scholarship
  • 1956: Works with Osvald Sirén in Stockholm on his seven-volume series "Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles" Joins staff of Freer and Sackler Gallery as Curator of Chinese Art
  • 1958: Receives PhD in Art History from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, working principally with Max Loehr
  • 1960: Publishes first and highly influential book: "Chinese Painting." In: Treasures of Asia series, Editions d'Art Albert Skira, Geneva, Switzerland 1960. Published also in French and German editions
  • 1965: Leaves the Freer and Sackler Gallery to accept position as Professor of History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley
  • 1973: Goes to China as member of the Chinese Archaeological Delegation, first group of art historians to visit China from the US
  • 1976: Publishes first of projected five-volume series on later Chinese paintings: "Hills Beyond a River: Chinese Painting of the Yuan Dynasty"
  • 1977: Visits China as chairman of Chinese Old Painting Delegation
  • 1978: Publishes second of projected five-volume series on later Chinese painting: "Parting At the Shore: Chinese Painting of the Early and Middle Ming Dynasty"
  • 1978 - 1979 : Accepts appointment as Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard; delivers series of lectures titled, "The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in 17th Century Chinese Painting"
  • 1982: Publishes "Barnhart-Cahill-Rogers Correspondence, 1981" (collection of correspondence published for colleagues) The Harvard lecture series: "The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in 17th Century Chinese Painting" published as a book, receives College of Art Association's Morey Prize for Best Art History book
  • 1998 - 1999 : Spends a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton with his wife, the art historian and artist Hsingyuan Tsao
  • 2007: Former students organize 80th birthday party/symposium at Berkeley, titled: "Returning to the Shore"
  • 2010: Became the 12th Recipient of the Charles Lang Freer Medal
  • Present: Living in Vancouver, Canada

From the guide to the James Cahill Papers, 1945-1996, (The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives)


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  • Art historians


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  • Japan (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)
  • Berkeley (Calif.) (as recorded)