We are extremely sad to announce the death of James Hughes-Hallett, former Chair of the Governing Board of The Courtauld Institute of Art, on 12 October 2019
James Hughes-Hallett was an accomplished businessman, dedicated philanthropist and a devoted supporter and champion of The Courtauld. He will be deeply missed.
James had a long and distinguished international business career, which resulted in his being made Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 2012. In 1976 he began work for Swire Group, rising through the ranks and eventually becoming Chairman of various of its branches in both the UK and Asia (1999 to 2015); at the time of his death he was a non-executive director. He was also Chairman of Cathay Pacific Ltd. (1999-2005) and Director of HSBC Holdings Ltd (2005-2014).
However, James’s passion for the arts, education and philanthropy were ever present, and alongside his roles at The Courtauld, he was a Governor of SOAS (2005-2010), a Trustee of Dulwich Picture Gallery (2005-2013), Chairman of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (2005-2019) and Vice-Chairman of the Attingham Trust (2008-present). He was passionate about teaching art history to young people and played a major role in the establishment of the charity ‘Art History in Schools’.
James joined The Courtauld’s Governing Board in 2008 and served as its Chairman for five years between 2012 and 2017. He presided over a successful period for the institution, during which The Courtauld expanded its breadth and scope, won accolades for its teaching and research and embarked on its current transformational project, Courtauld Connects. In 2018 James was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of The Courtauld. He generously gave of his time, advice and encouragement to many in our institution throughout his illness and even in his final days.
Besides being an engaged leader for The Courtauld, James was himself a generous donor and true supporter of all we do. He possessed a deep personal interest in art and conservation and – like his scholarship recipients – frequently attended Courtauld lectures and seminars. He couldn’t have been more thrilled when his daughter Molly came to The Courtauld to study the conservation of Easel Paintings. We can think of no better way to remember him than to quote from the speech he made when he was awarded The Courtauld’s Honorary Fellowship in 2018, addressing that year’s graduates:
“I hope you will remember your Courtauld years. Art is, after all, about interpreting memory in so many different guises. And I am sure you will treasure and re-visit the memories you have garnered here [in] this physically beautiful place, specialist and eclectic, sometimes eccentric, sometimes iconoclastic and always inspiring. As graduates of The Courtauld you will always be part of The Courtauld; [it has] a presence that in some sense will always stay with you”.
The Courtauld will always treasure the memory of James Hughes Hallett and the values for which he stood.