Andrew ‘Andy’ F. Stewart FAHA 1948 – 2023

Best known for his wide-ranging scholarship in the field of Greek sculpture but master of so much more, Andrew ‘Andy’ F. Stewart was recognised by the Australian Academy of the Humanities as an Honorary Fellow in 2013. Professor Emerita Margaret Miller FAHA (University of Sydney) reflects on his significant contribution to the Greek scholarship. Download a PDF version.

Andrew Steward, 2013, credit: University of California, Berkeley.

Andrew ‘Andy’ Stewart, best known for his wide-ranging scholarship in the field of Greek sculpture but master of so much more, passed away after an extended struggle with respiratory illness early in January 2023. It was just days after the Archaeological Institute of Americas honoured him with the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement.

Ten years earlier, in 2013, his inspirational Trendall Lecture ‘Individuality and Innovation in Greek Sculpture’ in conjunction with the Alexander the Great exhibition in Sydney so impressed his colleagues that they nominated him to the Academy of Humanities as an Honorary Fellow. That was, so far as I know, his first and only visit to Australia.

Andy was born in Portsmouth, England. A graduate of Cambridge University (A BA in 1969 and a PhD in 1972), he was appointed Lecturer and Curator of Antiquities at the University of Otago, New Zealand, which he held from 1972 to 1979. Thence he moved to the Art History Department at the University of California at Berkeley, where he spent the rest of his career, capped by appointment as Nicholas C. Petrus Professor of Greek Studies, until he retired in 2019.  In one of our few meetings, Andy memorably remarked to me that he had always wanted to study Greek sculpture; the challenge had been to identify a new focus in light of the long tradition of scholarship. In this aim, he succeeded.

One might say that the history of scholarship on Greek sculpture can be loosely divided into two parts:  BAS (before Andy Stewart) and AAS (the age of Andy Stewart).

Before Andy the study of Greek sculpture, with some variation, was largely an exercise in attribution reliant on ancient literary traditions about Greek sculptors and their work; that is, trying to glean Greek sculptural history from presumed variably accurate Roman copies of great masterpieces, through linking copy types with the literary record.

Andy’s approach was more rounded. He was a well-grounded classicist which enabled him to join the trend in what has been called “social art history” that is, the study of art within its socio-historical context. As the dust jacket of his monumental Greek Sculpture proclaims, his work is of value to both classicists and art historians. Significantly, rather than title his magnificent overview A History of Greek Sculpture, he called it Greek Sculpture: An Exploration.  In it, he carefully drew together the diverse sources of evidence for every facet of sculptural production before a careful consideration about the different functions different kinds of sculpture might serve and the pertinent issues of workshop size, location and practice as well as discussion of means of payment and rewards. Thus, the whole social and economic environment of sculpture was reviewed before the exploration of how sculpture developed in style, subject, and form.

A prominent feature of Andy’s scholarship was his readiness to draw on and ability to synthesize all types of available evidence. He once aptly compared the disparate sources of evidence for ancient Greek sculpture (literary, epigraphical, monumental) to ‘the legs of a tripod’.  One is just as likely to find images of coins and vase-painting in his publications as views of sculpture.  Within a global understanding of social structures, he worked ‘bottom up’, starting with the facts: he began his study of the fourth-century BC sculptor Skopas with close analysis of the excavated sculptures of the Temple of Athena at Tegea with which Skopas was associated. Study of those fragments was the fundamental first step to comprehending the character of his work.

Those who knew Andy admired his wit and humour. This occasionally comes across in his writing, as for example, in a summary of Rome’s involvement in the east, while reporting the protests when Attalos III of Pergamon died, having willed his kingdom to Rome, he observed ‘since anarchy threatened, Rome asserted its authority, restored order, and sent in the tax collectors.’

Over his productive career, in addition to many articles, Andy published eight books, of which his most notorious remains Art, desire and the body in ancient Greece (CUP, 1996). At the time of its publication the book disappeared almost immediately from the university library where I worked. It had a wide readership and was reviewed well beyond the usual academic journals. I am happy to report that now finally in Australia, I have been able to access the book, to be impressed once again at Andy’s breadth of scholarship and up to date handling of such current subjects as ‘Womanfacture’ through art.

The materiality of sculpture played an important role in Andy’s work. From 1996, he studied the scraps of sculpture excavated by the American excavators of the Athenian Agora. The results of this Herculean labour emerged as 14 focused studies, 2012-2022, clustered by theme and period, in the journal Hesperia. His final, synthetic overview of the public sculptures and paintings in the Agora from the late archaic period to the Augustan era was published posthumously (Hesperia 2023).

Always attentive to the needs of his students, Andy initiated the Berkeley Tel Dor field project. Over twenty years as field director he led teams of Berkeley students to take part in the excavations of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Tel Dor (1986-2006). His prior field experience included participation as a student in the British School at Athens’ excavations of the Unexplored Mansion at Knossos under Mervin Popham (1970-1971); later, while in New Zealand, he took part in the excavation of a Māori settlement at Long Beach, Otago. His work at Tel Dor exemplified again his range of expertise, notably in his handling of the publication of Athenian ceramic imports to the site, and of fragments of fine late Hellenistic tessellated mosaic with a theatre mask.

There can be no doubt that Andy Stewart, through his scholarship and teaching, has had significant impact on the study of classical antiquity. His voracious appetite for detail, coupled with his paramount skill at seeing the big picture, emerges in all his work. It is a pleasure to think about his illustrious career and his many accomplishments.

Professor Emerita Margaret Miller FAHA

University of Sydney

In memory of our Fellows

Our Fellows, current and those who have died, have contributed extensively to the rich Australian humanities community. When an Academy Fellow dies, we honour their impact by publishing an obituary by another Fellow who has had a long and close association with them.

Acknowledgement of Country

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