Marta Osterstrom Renger (1935-2002)
Friends of Marta Renger were saddened to learn of her death in Bonn on March 4, 2002 of bulbar paralysis (a particularly malicious form of Lou Gehrig’s disease), from which she had suffered since 1999. She had held the post of Lecturer for Art History at the Kunsthistorisches Institut of the University of Bonn (1986-2000), and had been Visiting Professor at Smith College in 1988. A charter member of Historians of Netherlandish Art, she had attended all of our conferences, prior to the recent one in Antwerp, and had chaired a workshop.
A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Marta had lived in Germany since her marriage to Reinhard Renger in 1968. She received the B.A. in Fine Arts from Washington University,Saint Louis, (1958); the M.Ed. (1964); M.A. (1967) and PhD. (1985) from Harvard. It was as a Fulbright Fellow in Amsterdam (1967/68) that she began to develop her field of expertise in Netherlandish manuscripts and their models under the direction of R.W. Scheller. Her first major publication in this area, “The Netherlandish Grisaille Miniatures: Some Unexplored Aspects,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch, vol.XIV(1984), 145-173, dealt with a group of sixteen manuscripts, all produced between 1440 and 1460, whose nearly identical compositions in monochrome point to the use of common archetypes. A search for sources led to the topic of her Harvard dissertation, “The Wiesbaden Codex B 10 and Netherlandish Art around 1400” (1985). Further studies included, “Some Distinctive Utrecht Workshop Procedures around 1400,” in Masters and Miniatures, Proceedings of the Congress on Medieval Manuscript Illumination in the Northern Netherlands(Utrecht, 10-13 December 1989), 1991, and “Wiesbaden 3004B 10: More than a Manuscript,” in Flanders in a European Perspective. Manuscript Illumination around 1400 in Flanders and Abroad. Proceedings of the International Colloquium, Leuven, 7-10 September 1993 (1995).
Her article for Shop Talk: Studies in Honor of Seymour Slive (“A Medieval Basis for Vasari’s ‘Libro’,” 1995) drew attention to the survival of medieval practices of conservation in the mounts and restorations used by Vasari to safeguard and embellish his collection of valued older drawings. She also was a contributor to the Jaarboek van de Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerpen (1993); Boeken in de late Middeleeuwen. Verslag van de Groningse Codicologendagen 1992; as well as to The Burlington Magazine; The Connoisseur; and Rheinische Vierteljahresblätter. Her conference report on the 1994 Stefan Lochner colloquium in Cologne (Burlington Magazine and HNA Newsletter); and her thoughtful book and exhibition reviews for Kunstchronik (1994-96) were models of their kind. Among her last publications were several entries in Medieval Germany, An Encyclopedia (New York & London, 2001) on Nicolaus Gerhaert van Leyden, the Housebook Master, the Master of the Life of Mary, and Konrad Witz. Her last publication, a review for the HNA Review of Books of Brigitte Corley’s book on painting and patronage in Cologne, was written when she was already ill. A testimony to her dedication and courage, it is here published in her memory.
Jane Campbell Hutchison
University of Wisconsin