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École des Beaux-Arts, 14 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
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Edwin James Hipkiss (September 25, 1885 - September 1, 1955) was a Curator Emeritus of the Department of Decorative Arts of Europe and America, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1919-1954. He was a member of the Horace Walpole Society, elected in 1943.
Hipkiss retired after 35 years on the Museum staff during which he built up the Museum's collections in the fields of European and American decorative arts. He came to the Museum as Keeper of the newly established Department of Western Art in 1919, and laid out the plan upon which that Department was thereafter to develop. Growth was so steady than in less than a decade it became necessary to reconstitute the original department as that of Decorative Arts of Europe and America with Hipkiss as the first Curator. Under his direction 23 period rooms were installed, and permanent exhibitions arranged in more than 30 other galleries.
During his curatorship the Museum was enriched by the very generous gifts of the Karolik Collection of Eighteenth Century American Arts, in the formation of which he worked with the donors, the Spalding Collection of American Silver, the Thayer and Sleeper Collections of Paul Revere Silver, the Swan Collection of Eighteenth Century French Arts, the Paine Collection of English Porcelains, the Wilbour Collection of English Silver, the J. Templeman Coolidge Collection of Ship Models, and other important acquisitions such as the Spanish Romanesque portal and the Liberty Bowl.
Trained as an architect, with early years of study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, followed by association with such distinguished leaders in that profession as Richard Henry Dana and Guy Lowell, the architect of Museum building, Hipkiss' interest in this field continued throughout his life, though he gave up formal practice when he came to the Museum. He was an honorary member of the Boston Society of Architects, a member of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) and of the Walpole Society. He lectured widely and was the author of numerous books and articles, among which Eighteenth Century American Arts: the M. and M. Karolik Collection and The Philip Leffingwell Spalding Collection of Early American Silver are especially noteworthy.
Edwin James Hipkiss married May Walton. He died at Waltham on September 1, 1955.
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