Obituary: Myra-Nan Rosenfeld-Little (1942–2022)

by Isabelle J. Gournay | Jun 02, 2022

Myra-Nan Rosenfeld-Little passed away in Toronto on February 6th after a long illness.  She received a B.A from Sarah Lawrence College, graduate degrees from the Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie and Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. From Frederico Zeri, André Chastel, Rudolph Wittkower and James Ackerman, she learned how to combine formidable archival research, astute connoisseurship and deep comprehension of broader social and intellectual histories.

In 1974, after having taught at the New School University, the University of Washington, and U.C. Berkeley, Myra became Research Curator and Curator of European Paintings at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. From 1985 to 1999, she headed the Research Department at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, playing a key role in enriching the CCA’s collections of rare books and drawings and propelling its scholarly stature through her work on publications and exhibitions. Her reputation of innovative and impeccable scholarship helped her secure senior fellowships at CASVA and the Bibliotheca Hertziana.

Book-length publications such as Sebastiano Serlio: On Domestic Architecture (which was awarded SAH’s 1979 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award shared with the Architectural History Foundation), Exploring Rome: Piranesi and his Contemporaries and Nicolas de Largillierre and the Eighteenth-Century Portrait, represent just a few examples of the impressive output of a scholar writing with equal ease in French and English. Originating from her Ph.D. thesis and enriched over the years, her book on The Hôtel de Cluny in Paris: Continuity and Innovation in Fifteenth Century French Domestic Architecture is scheduled to be published by Brepols.

There was no limit to Myra’s dedication to architectural history and I greatly benefitted from her intellectual generosity and gentle guidance while working on the CCA’s exhibition Ernest Cormier and the Université de Montréal. After having moved to Toronto, she tirelessly worked toward protecting Cormier’s work at the University of Toronto.

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Myra Rosenfeld joined SAH in 1969. In 1978 she was awarded the Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award, and in 2002, received the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Fellowship.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

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