Vincent Scully, the Yale art historian whose writings on architecture ranged from Greek temples and Andrea Palladio’s villas to modernism, died on November 30 at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia, Richard B. Woodward of the New York Times reports. The cause of death was complications related to Parkinson’s disease.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, on August 21, 1920, Scully received a full scholarship to Yale and enrolled at sixteen years old. He graduated with an English degree before joining the Army Air Forces in 1940. Scully then returned to Yale after his service to study art history and architecture.
Scully became a professor in 1947. Known for his theatrical flare in the lecture hall, he taught thousands of undergraduate students at Yale. He retired in 1991 but returned a year later, teaching his popular course “Introduction to the History of Art” until 2009. Scully also served as a visiting professor at the University of Miami.
Among his many scholarly works are The Shingle Style: Architectural Theory and Design From Richardson to the Origins of Wright (1955); American Architecture and Urbanism (1969); Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade (1991); and Yale in New Haven: Architecture and Urbanism, which he wrote with Catherine Willis Lynn, Paul Goldberger, and Eric Vogt in 2004. That same year he received the National Medal of Arts.
“I think he probably did more than anyone else over the last sixty years to affect not just architecture but architecture culture as well,” said Goldberger, an architecture critic who has written for the New York Times and the New Yorker. “He showed us that architecture is not just forms in a vacuum. It’s about what kind of society you want to build.”