Howat, John K. 1937- (John Keith Howat)

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Howat, John K. 1937- (John Keith Howat)


Born April 12, 1937, in Denver, CO; son of James Bowcott (an army officer) and Nancy Howat; married Anne Hadley, January 21, 1958; children: Karen Louise, Laura Anne. Education: Attended Phillips Exeter Academy, 1953-55; Harvard University, B.A., 1959, M.A., 1962.


Home—New York, NY.


Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY, curator, 1962-64; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, assistant curator of American paintings and sculpture, 1967-68, associate curator, 1968-70, curator, 1970-82, chair of the department of American Art, 1982-83, Lawrence A. Fleischman chair of the departments of American Art, 1983-2001. Trustee and member of advisory committee, Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art; member of national advisory committee, Olana Partnership National Council.


Union Club, Century Association, Brook.


Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 2000.


(Selector) John Frederick Kensett (exhibition catalog), Eastern Press (New Haven, CT), 1968.

(With Natalie Spassky and others, and author of introduction) 19th-century America: Paintings and Sculpture; An Exhibition in Celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 16 through September 7, 1970 (exhibition catalog), New York Graphic Society (New York, NY), 1970.

The Hudson River and Its Painters, Viking (New York, NY), 1972.

(With John Paul Driscoll) John Frederick Kensett, an American Master (exhibition catalog), edited by Susan E. Strickler, Worcester Art Museum/Norton (New York, NY), 1985.

(Editor and author of introduction) American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), 1987.

(Editor and contributor, with Catherine Hoover Voorsanger) Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861 (exhibition catalog), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)/Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2000.

Frederic Church (biography), Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2005.

Author of other exhibition catalogs. Contributor to periodicals, including the Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Magazine Antiques, American Art Review, and the Journal of the Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts. Editorial board, American Art Journal.


John K. Howat, an art historian whose specialty is American landscape painting, retired in 2001 as the Lawrence A. Fleischman chair of the Departments of American Art at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Howat graduated with an advanced degree from Harvard University in 1962, and began working at the museum in 1967. He authored The Hudson River and Its Painters and, as one of the institution's chief curators of American art, oversaw the expansion of its American Wing in the 1970s. It opened to the public in 1980 with four floors of galleries, complemented by twenty-five period rooms showing American domestic architecture since the seventeenth century. Howat was also integral in the establishment of the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art at the museum.

Howat penned numerous exhibition catalogs for shows at the Metropolitan Museum, and curated his final show in the American Wing, Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861, just prior to his retirement. He authored an essay for its catalog, "Private Collectors and Public Spirit: A Selective View."

In his 2005 book, Frederic Church, Howat provides a study of the life and art of Church, a member of the Hudson River School of artists. He presents Church's life with an emphasis on the aspects that influenced his art, such as his association with landscape artist Thomas Cole and Church's varied interests, including science and travel. The book includes color plates of the artist's work and eighty illustrations. "In this excellent book Church is immortalized as the beneficiary and victim of shifting public taste, but nevertheless as a truly gifted artist whose extraordinary work is, ultimately, timeless," wrote a contributor to American Artist.



American Artist, February, 2006, review of Frederic Church, p. 76.

Magazine Antiques, October, 2005, review of Frederic Church, p. 91; November, 2005, review of Frederic Church, p. 105.


Traditional Fine Arts Organization, (May 4, 2007), "Metropolitan Museum of Art's John K. Howat to Retire in 2001."