Flags on campus are lowered in memory of David McTavish, a professor emeritus in the Department of Art.
Dr. McTavish began teaching at Queen’s in 1973 and was promoted to full professor in 1989. He is widely recognized, nationally and internationally, as a scholar of the Italian Renaissance with a special interest in the role of drawings.
Dr. McTavish was head of the Department of Art from 1989 to 1997 during which time the PhD program in art history was inaugurated, the Bader fellowships for PhD students were put in place and the first of two endowed Bader chairs was established. During this time he was also asked to direct the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s capital project – this included an $8 million fundraising campaign, an architectural competition and the move of the entire collection. He served in this capacity from 1991 to 2001.
Dr. McTavish retired from the university in 2013 but continued to engage with a range of professorial duties from graduate supervision to research and publication with commitment and dedication. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre published his study of El Greco’s The Adoration of the Shepherds earlier this year.
He received his BA (Honours) and MA from the University of Toronto; he completed a PhD at the University of London (Courtauld Institute of Art) in 1978. His scholarly activities mostly have focused on Italian art of the Renaissance through Mannerism to the Baroque period. In his doctoral work, he was principally interested in the relationships between so-called schools of art, in particular those of Venice and Rome in the 16th century; he was fortunate to carry out his doctoral studies under the supervision of John Shearman and Michael Hirst, two of the foremost scholars in the field.
In 1978, he was asked to chair the first collection committee of the newly formed Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Gallery of Ontario; he has maintained close ties with the department ever since. Since 2009, he has been an adviser to the acquisitions committee of the board of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
A celebration of Dr. McTavish’s life will take place at the University Club on Dec. 7 at 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.