Duncan Theobald Kinkead

Duncan Theobald Kinkead

Died October 11, 2010

In the words of a colleague, Duncan Kinkead was “one of the pioneer U.S. scholars of Early Modern Iberian art.”

After majoring in English at Yale, he began his career as an art historian with a master’s at Penn State and a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. His dissertation on the 17th century painter Juan de Valdes Leal was subsequently published in two volumes. That same colleague summed up Dunc’s body of work as follows: “Kinkead’s passion for Spanish art and deep archival research resulted in the publication of numerous significant scholarly articles on major artistic figures in Early Modern Seville . . . in addition to important studies of the painting trade with the Americas . . . many of which remain standard references in the field.”
During the early part of his career, Dunc taught art history at SUNY Albany, the University of Cincinnati, where he met his second wife, Donna, also an art historian, and Duke University.

Dunc and Donna married in 1983 and moved to Seville, Spain for what was supposed to be a year and ended up being two as Dunc prowled through archives unearthing documentation on the lives of local 17th century artists. His research eventually produced a 600-page reference work entitled Pintores y Doradores en Sevilla, 1650-1699.

The couple returned from Spain in 1985 and taught first at the University of Wisconsin and then at Indiana University. With three sons under the age of five and three college tuitions on the horizon, Dunc decided he had to find a better paying career field and enrolled at Indiana University Law School. He practiced law for five years in Bedford, Indiana and for ten years in his own practice, Kinkead Law Office, in Bloomington. He specialized in Workmen’s Compensation, but much of his work was pro bono, Donna says, “because he’s Duncan and he couldn’t stand charging people who can’t afford it.” He retired in 2006, oversaw publication of his Pintores y Doradores en Sevilla, and was at work on a second volume at the time of his death on October 11, 2010. His study is crammed with thousands of books on Spanish art which Donna intends to catalogue and donate to The College of William & Mary.

Peter Schwartz remembers:
Fought those demons.

William Gruber remembers: His characteristic stance was a cheerful, eccentric grumpiness; personal life was a balloon, hung up for darts. Studying art history at Penn State, and, later, the University of Michigan, he signed off letters, “yours in holy poverty, Dunc.” As a new father, he wrote to assure me that he would point out to his son all of life’s pitfalls – “the same ones,” he said, with rueful insight into the ways that children disregard their parents’ wisdom, “that my father so dutifully pointed out to me.” And in 1973 national politics and frustrations with faculty prima donnas inspired him to compose the funniest tricolon I’ve ever read: “What more can one ask of life than a few major debts, the company of charlatans, and the Nixon administration?”
Yet Dunc also had an instinct for provoking along with a caustic intolerance for routine academic bullshit. He obtained a law degree and settled in Bloomington, IN, where he made a career in family law. It was about that time – this would have been in the mid-1980s – that I let our correspondence lapse. His death in 2010 shocked me how carelessly I had let a friendship wear out; I owed Dunc more. Amazon books lists his Pintores y Doradores en Sevilla: 1650-1699 Documentos (2nd edition, 2009); on my bucket list for retirement is to learn enough Spanish to be able to pick my way through that book, in search of and in memory of the author.