Remembering Joachim Gaehde, professor emeritus of fine arts

Joachim Gaehde

Joachim Gaehde

Joachim Gaehde, professor emeritus of fine arts, passed away Nov. 24, of pneumonia. He was 92 and lived in Arlington, Mass.

A scholar of Carolingian illuminated manuscripts, Gaehde was the eminence grise of the Department of Fine Arts for most of his long tenure at Brandeis, said his colleague Nancy Scott, associate professor of fine arts.

Gaehde was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1921. His mother was Jewish, and he survived most of the war years in Nazi Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1950 and later earned his doctoral degree from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. In 1962, Gaehde joined the Brandeis faculty as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 1969. He also served as dean of the faculty in the 1970s under President Marver Bernstein.

Scott said that Gaehde defined the field of medieval studies at Brandeis, and became well known for his rigorous course studies; his kindly concern and manner toward students; and his wit, elegance and dedication.

“As a colleague, [he] held the department to high standards, and at the same time he enjoyed the pleasures of his American life — he favored a blue Fiat convertible, which he drove with the top down in all kinds of weather; loved his Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, which were part of his daily constitutionals; and was a gourmet cook,” recalled Scott.

Gaehde married Christa Maria Schelcher in 1946. Christa, who was renowned in the field of conservation and restoration of art on paper, and worked for many of the top American museums, predeceased her husband in 2002.

Gaehde is survived by his sons, Stephan, of Brookline, Mass., and Nicholas, of Concord, Mass., and by his five grandchildren, Lilly, Stephanie, Christian, Miranda and Oliver.

Categories: Arts, General, Humanities and Social Sciences

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage