Russell Lynes

Russell Lynes
Born December 2, 1910
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Died September 14, 1991 (aged 80)
New York City
Occupation Art historian, photographer, author, editor
Nationality American
Alma mater Yale University
Notable works The Tastemakers, Snobs
Spouse Mildred Akin
Children 2

Russell Lynes (Joseph Russell Lynes, Jr.; December 2, 1910 – September 14, 1991) was an American art historian, photographer, author and managing editor of Harper's Magazine.

Early life

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Lynes was the younger son of Adelaide Sparkman and Joseph Russell Lynes.[1] His older brother was George Platt Lynes (1907-1955), the photographer. In 1932, he graduated from Yale University.[1]


Lynes started as a clerk at Harper & Brothers, the publishing house, from 1932 to 1936 and was director of publications at Vassar in 1936 and 1937. He then took a job at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where he was assistant principal from 1937 to 1940, then principal until 1944. He then joined Harper's Magazine as an assistant editor and became managing editor in 1947, a position he would hold for the next twenty years.[1] Lynes was interested in historic preservation, notably and influentially writing about the threat to Olana, the home of Frederic Church in upstate New York, in The Tastemakers and in the February 1965 issue of Harper's.[2]


  • Life in the Slow Lane (1991)
  • The Lively Audience: A Social History of the Visual and Performing Arts inAmerica, 1890-1950. (1985)
  • The Art Makers: An Informal History of Painting, Sculpture & Architecture in Nineteenth Century America (1983)
  • More than meets the eye: The history and collections of Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design (1981)
  • Good Old Modern; an intimate portrait of the Museum of Modern Art (1973)[3]
  • The Art-Makers of Nineteenth Century America (1970)
  • Confessions of a Dilettante (1966)
  • The Domesticated Americans (1963)
  • Cadwallader: A Diversion (1959)
  • A Surfeit of Honey (1957)[4]
  • The Tastemakers (1954)
  • Guests (1951)
  • Snobs (1950)
  • Highbrow, Lowbrow, Middlebrow (1949)

Personal life

In 1934, he married Mildred Akin (died 1999),[5] who was a Vassar graduate, the step-daughter of artist Henry Ives Cobb, Jr. (1883–1974) and a granddaughter of George W. Wickersham (1858–1936), U.S. Attorney General under William Howard Taft. Together, they had two children:[1]

He died on September 14, 1991 in New York City at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Russell Lynes, 80, an Editor and Arbiter of Taste by Richard Severo, September 16, 1991, New York Times online retrieved February 18, 2008 obituary
  2. ^ Schuyler, David (2016). "Saving Olana" (PDF). The Hudson River Valley Review. 32.2: 2–26.
  3. ^ New Criterion discussion of some of the issues that are fully discussed in Good Old Modern
  4. ^ "WE ADORE self-appointed scolds who tell us what shallow characters we are. Here is Mr. Lynes casting us as History's Spoiled Children. We have it too good, he says." Commentary Magazine
  5. ^ a b c "Deaths LYNES, MILDRED AKIN". The New York Times. 19 August 1999. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Deaths: LYNES, GEORGE PLATT II". The New York Times. 23 August 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b Graydon, Megan (October 27, 2015). "Elizabeth Hollander, Chicago planner under Harold Washington, dies at 75". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Elizabeth R. Lynes Married to Student". The New York Times. 9 September 1962. Retrieved 23 August 2016.

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