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Subject: A death

A death

From: Paul Jett <jettpa<-a>
Date: Monday, March 31, 2008
In Memoriam
John Winter (1936-2008)

John Winter, Conservation Scientist in the Department of
Conservation and Scientific Research at the Freer Gallery of Art and
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, passed away on
March 24, 2008.

John was born in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, England in 1936.  He
attended Cambridge University, where he was awarded a BA (natural
sciences) in 1958, and Manchester University, where he earned his
PhD (organic chemistry) in 1961.  He specialized in natural product
chemistry.  Following the completion of his academic career, John
performed research in chemistry at the University of British
Columbia, Universite de Strasbourg, Laporte Industries Ltd (U.K.)
and Sheffield University. In 1968 John joined the Museum Applied
Science Center at the University of Pennsylvania and undertook
research on dating methods and the study of archaeological materials
and museum objects, especially organic residues within ancient
ceramics.  In 1971, John joined the staff of the Technical
Laboratory of the Freer Gallery of Art.

Over the course of more than thirty-six years, John's achievements
at the Freer and Sackler were notable in a number of areas.  His
work on the study of East Asian paintings and pigments was
groundbreaking and resulted in dozens of publications.  Of
particular significance was John's work on the study of carbon-based
inks, organic pigments, and the photographic enhancement of seal
impressions on paintings.  More recent work included the
identification of pigments used on an important group of 6th century
stone sculpture found at Qingzhou, Shangdong province, China, and
the study of paintings from China dating to the 17th to early 20th
century.  And just weeks before his death, John's book on the
scientific study of East Asian paintings went to press, with an
expected release date this summer.

Along with his research accomplishments, John was dedicated to the
field of conservation and to service in its professional
organizations.  He served terms as vice-president and president of
IIC, coordinated various working groups of ICOM's Committee for
Conservation, and was on the editorial board of Reviews in
Conservation. He served as a dedicated abstractor for Art and
Archaeology Technical Abstracts for over 30 years and in recent
years represented the IIC on the AATA Editorial Board.

John's contributions to the field include not only his own publications but
also the production and script of a 45-minute movie, The Art of the
Hy_gushi; a slide show--The care of East-Asian paintings--distributed by
the Smithsonian's Office of Museum Programs; and the editing and
introductions for numerous other publications.  He was instrumental in the
training of many students, interns, and research fellows, including Stanley
Chang (Head of the Research Laboratory of the National Palace Museum,
Taiwan), Masaaki Sawada (Head of the Nara National Research Laboratory of
Cultural Property),  Hiromu Abe (Head of the Shoso-in, Nara), Steven
Weintraub, Marco Leona and many others.

As a scientist, John was thorough and careful in manner, but he was also
inventive, and developed new ways to address intractable problems.  He was a
fine experimentalist and designed and made beautiful laboratory equipment.
In communicating the results of his research, John's writing was exemplary
in its clarity and precision.  He was always ready to help his colleagues,
and there are many scientists now working in the field who will remember
John for his advice, guidance, and in a number of cases, for giving them a
start in conservation science.

Those who worked with John will remember him fondly for many reasons.  He
was an incomparable coworker, dedicated both to his work and to the museum.
His even temper, good humor, patience and thoughtfulness toward his
colleagues was unfailing, and all who were fortunate enough to work with him
were better for the experience.

John leaves behind his wife, Ann Yonemura, Curator of Japanese Art at the
Freer and Sackler Galleries, and more bereaved friends and colleagues than
can be counted. But his work will live on, to inspire and educate us for
years to come.

W.  T. Chase and Paul Jett

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:52
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 1, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-21-52-001
Received on Monday, 31 March, 2008

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