Everett Philipp Fahy Jr. (Darby, Pennsylvania, 29 March 1941 – Davis, California, 23 April 2018) is known to have been one of the best ever connoisseurs of Italian Renaissance painting, his eye for an attribution being prodigious. Early on he began to display an interest in art history. The preface to his doctoral thesis reveals how “as child, growing up in Philadelphia, I got to know the Johnson Collection”.

During his first round of studies at Virginia University, completed in June 1962, he got to know  John Pope Hennessy (1913-1994), a key figure in his formation. Pope Hennessy introduced him to art history and urged him to look into what would become a prime sector of his research, Tuscan painting in the second half of the Quattrocento. Long conversations with that London mentor helped him choose the subject for his doctoral thesis which he defended at  Harvard University  in June 1968, supervised by  Sidney Joseph Freedberg (1914-1997) and James Ackerman (1919-2016). In it he draws up a catalogue of over twenty Tuscan painters who grew up in the shadow of  Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448-1494). It was a research area where little groundwork had been done, despite the fame and critical fortune of that Tuscan master. Published in 1976 under the title Some Followers of Domenico Ghirlandajo , it is still viewed as a starting point and benchmark for all coming to grips with Tuscan/Florentine figurative culture of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The years of his Harvard PhD (1963-1968) were decisive for Fahy’s career. It was a time when he obtained some major funding enabling him to stay at the  Villa I Tatti , Florence, from 1964 to 1966. There he met art historians of the calibre of  Roberto Longhi, Anna Banti, Luisa Vertova, Ulrich Middeldorf,and Millard Meiss.  He also renewed his acquaintance with  Federico Zeri, having met him during Zeri’s famous Harvard seminars in 1963-1964. Such stimulation led to Fahy’s first publications in major journals – ‘Paragone’ to the fore – in which we at once glimpse his precocious and sensational acumen.

At a mere 27 years of age, PhD freshly in his pocket, Everett Fahy became Consultant at the Department of European Painting of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1968-1969), and straight afterwards Curator (1970-1973). It was an extraordinary period of development both as an art historian and in museum practice, made the more fertile by Zeri’s constant presence there drawing up catalogues of Florentine (1971) and Venetian (1973) painting for the museum. On joining the MET, Fahy adopted New York as his home town and bought what would be his lifelong residence, an elegant apartment in Upper West Side, Manhattan, overlooking Central Park. In it he would house a rich collection of paintings (auctioned on 26 October 2016 by Christie’s) reflecting his sophisticated and eclectic taste.

Although he held various prestige posts at New York University, first as an Associate Professor then Adjunct Professor between 1969 and 1976, teaching was never for him the be-all and end-all. His expertise was growing in the museum field, such that in 1973 he was appointed Director of the  Frick Collection, a role he would hold for thirteen years (becoming Emeritus Director in 2005). From 1986 to 2009 he was also Chief Curator at the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of European Painting. In the Eighties and Nineties, besides these posts of renown, he directed “The School of American Ballet” (1986-1989), “Save Venice” (1987-1995) and the “Metropolitan Opera” (1990-2002), displaying a gamut of interests and a deep connection with the city.

A man of rare intellectual generosity – always happy to engage in lengthy correspondence with anyone who sought him out, and share a lifetime’s meticulously collected material – Fahy was a sensitive and alert member of the Scientific Committee of the Federico Zeri Foundation, to which last he donated his extraordinary photo archive which is currently undergoing a facelift via an extensive online cataloguing project.

Everett Fahy would die in his country home at Davis, California, at the age of 77.