Jonathan Leo Fairbanks

This article is about the artist. For the colonist, see Jonathan Fairbanks.
Jonathan Leo Fairbanks
Born (1933-02-19) February 19, 1933
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nationality American
Education University of Utah
University of Pennsylvania
University of Delaware
Occupation Artist

Jonathan Leo Fairbanks (born February 19, 1933 in Ann Arbor) is an American artist and expert of American arts and antiques. Fairbanks created the American Decorative Arts and Sculpture department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,[1] and served as the Curator of the department from 1970-99.[2]

Fairbanks is the son of the American sculptor, Avard Fairbanks. He was born in Ann Arbor while his father was teaching at the University of Michigan.[3] He is also an eleventh generation descendant of English colonist Jonathan Fairbanks.[4]

Fairbanks is on the Board of Directors of the Fairbanks Family in America, Inc., which owns and operates the house.[5] He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Utah and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania through a joint program with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He earned a second Masters degree, an M.A. in American Culture, from the University of Delaware in the Winterthur Museum Fellowship Program.[6] He served at the museum as an Associate Curator in charge of conservation for nine years.[3]

Fairbanks has served as curator for several exhibits, including "Becoming a Nation, Americana from the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State," which toured eight cities from April 2003 until January 2005. He was also the Sr. Vice President of, the Editor at Large for the Catalogue of Antiques and Fine Art, and a Research Associate at Boston University.[2] He is on the Board of Directors of the Decorative Arts Trust, of which he was President for 12 years.[7] Fairbanks served as Vice President of Research for[2] He is currently the Director of the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA.

Some of Fairbanks’ artwork is owned by institutions such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Boston Public Library, the Wye House and Myrtle Grove on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the Alhambra in southern Spain.[3] His work was featured in the exhibit, “Jonathan Leo Fairbanks, A Painter's Journey, 1952-2004,” which was on display at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD in 2004.[8]

Fairbanks has received several awards, including the Victorian Society of America Award for Conservation, The Charles F. Montgomery Award from the Decorative Arts Society, The Urban Glass Award for Exceptional Museum Glass Exhibition, The Ellen Banning Ayer Award for Contributions to Arts and Culture, and the Lifetime Achievement Medal from the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston. In 2003 the Decorative Arts Trust announced the endowment of The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lectureship in honor of Fairbanks’ achievements.[9] In 2003, the Furniture Society bestowed upon Fairbanks the Award of Distinction.[6] In 2006 Fairbanks received the Iris Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Decorative Arts by the Bard Graduate Center.[10]


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