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From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:
Downing, George E.
George Elliot Downing (1904-1977), professor of art, was born in Marquette, Michigan, on June 19, 1904. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1925, intending to study medicine. However, he chose to earn a master’s degree in art history from Harvard in 1928. He was an instructor at the University of Chicago from 1926 to 1931, and in 1930 went abroad to study Romanesque architecture. When he came to Brown as assistant professor of art in 1932, he was the second member of the art department and resided on the second floor of a house above the Art Department quarters. According to Professor William Jordy, Downing “came to Brown as a medievalist; but he was already interested in the history of modern art at a time when such concern was hardly considered respectable by most of his profession.” On his arrival he introduced a new course, an art survey of European culture. In 1946 he earned his doctorate at Harvard and was promoted to associate professor. He became a full professor in 1953. He was chairman of the Art Department from 1949 to 1963. He was responsible for enlarging the department during those years, for gaining recognition for the history of modern art, and for promoting the studio program when its value in a liberal arts program had not been established. His wife, Antoinette Forrester Downing, is the author of books on American architecture and has been active in the Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Historic District Commission and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission. Downing retired from teaching in 1969, and was working on a book, Modern Art and Modern Thought, at the time of his death in Providence on May 8, 1977.
The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright ©1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.