Historical Note

A detailed biography of Anne d'Harnoncourt is included in the finding aid to the Anne d'Harnoncourt Papers, which can be accessed through the link referenced below, following the chronology.


1943 (Sept. 7)Anne Julie d'Harnoncourt is born in Washington, D.C. to René and Sarah (Carr) d'Harnoncourt.
1944René d'Harnoncourt is appointed Vice President in charge of Foreign Activities and Director of the Department of Manual Industries at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Family moves to New York, NY.
1949René d'Harnoncourt is appointed Director of MoMA.
1949-1961Anne d'Harnoncourt attends Brearley School, 12-year preparatory school in New York.
1959Travels to Kenya, Northern Rhodesia, and Ghana in Africa to participate in four-week International Affairs seminar.
1961-1965Attends Radcliffe College, majoring in History and Literature of Europe and England since 1740.
1962Travels to what is now Tanzania in Africa as a member of volunteer group, Project Tanganyika, to teach reading and writing to the local population.
1965Awarded B.A. magna cum laude, Radcliffe College.
1965-1967Attends Courtauld Institute of Art, London University.
1966-1967As part of M.A. thesis, works at Tate Gallery, London, to prepare catalogue entries of 30 Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings.
1967Awarded M.A. with distinction, Courtauld Institute of Art.
1967-1969Serves as Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA).
1968 (Mar. 25)Interviews Marcel Duchamp at his studio in New York City.
1968 (Aug. 13)René d'Harnoncourt dies at the age of 67.
1968 (Oct. 2)Marcel Duchamp dies. Soon thereafter, the Cassandra Foundation presents to PMA the artist's mixed-media assemblage "Étant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau, 2° le gaz d'éclairage . . . ". D'Harnoncourt participates in the dismantling and reinstallation of piece.
1969 (July 7)"Étant donnés" is unveiled to the public. D'Harnoncourt and Walter Hopps co-author an essay about the piece for the PMA Bulletin.
1969-1971Serves as Assistant Curator of 20th Century Art, Art Institute of Chicago. Meets Joseph J. Rishel, Assistant Curator of European Painting.
1971 (June 19)Marries Joseph J. Rishel in New York
1971Returns to Philadelphia Museum of Art as Associate Curator, Department of 20th Century Painting. Joseph J. Rishel joins PMA as Associate Curator of Painting before 1900.
1972-1982Serves as Curator, Department of 20th Century Painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
1982 (July)-1996 (Dec.)Serves as George D. Widener Director, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
1995 (Jan.)Awarded the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Republic of France.
1995PMA milestone: Reinstallation of Museum's collection of European art from 1100 to 1900 is completed. Project resulted in the renovation of 55,000 square feet of exhibition space, conservation of thousands of objects and development of new interpretive materials.
1996 (May-Sept.)PMA milestone: "Cézanne" exhibition generates $122.5 million in tourism for the city of Philadelphia. Attendance of 548,000 visitors exceeds original estimates two-fold.
1996 (Dec.)PMA milestone: Museum acquires the marble bust of "Benjamin Franklin" carved by Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1779 at auction for nearly $3 million. Considering the importance of the artist to the Museum and Franklin's historical significance to the city of Philadelphia, d'Harnoncourt describes the acquisition as "everything rolled into one."
1998 (June)Receives Philadelphia Award (1997 award).
2000 (Dec.)PMA milestone: 2001 Fund 125th Anniversary Campaign is launched. Raises nearly $250 million by its conclusion in 2004.
1997 (Jan.)-2008 (June)Serves as George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
2001 (Aug. 7)Sarah d'Harnoncourt dies at the age of 97.
2005 (Feb.-May)PMA milestone: "Salvador Dalí" exhibition draws more than 370,000 visitors, an attendance second only to the "Cézanne" exhibition of 1996. On average, visitors spend nearly two hours at the restrospective, a significantly longer time than one typically spends at one of the Museum's special exhibitions.
2007 (Sept.)PMA milestone: Ruth and Raymond G. Perleman Building opens as annex to main museum building.
2007 (Nov.)Awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, Government of Mexico.
2008 (June 1)Anne d'Harnoncourt dies of cardiac arrest at the age of 64.
2006 (Dec.)PMA milestone: With the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Museum raises $68 million to jointly purchase "Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic)."
2008 (June 4)At the request of U.S. Representatives Robert Brady, the Flag of the United States is flown over the United States Capitol in memory of d'Harnoncourt.
2008 (Sept. 7)"Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Anne d'Harnoncourt" held at the Academy of Music (Philadelphia) on what would have been d'Harnoncourt's 65th birthday.
2008 (June 19)Official day of appreciation of Anne d'Harnoncourt declared by Museum and City officials, and joined by the Governor of Pennsylvania. Outdoor tribute with performance by the Philadelphia Boys Choir held later that day on what would have been d'Harnoncourt and Rishel's 37th wedding anniversary.

Works Consulted

"Anne d'Harnoncourt Papers." Historical note, 2011. Finding aid at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives.