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Groundbreaking work of historian

PUBLISHED: 12:30 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:56 07 September 2010

AN eminent art historian and philosopher has died at his home in Chalk Farm. Professor Michael Podro CBE died on March 28 at the age of 77. Born in Hendon in 1931 to Russian emigres, his father Joshua was a Judaic scholar who collaborated with Robert Grav

AN eminent art historian and philosopher has died at his home in Chalk Farm.

Professor Michael Podro CBE died on March 28 at the age of 77.

Born in Hendon in 1931 to Russian emigres, his father Joshua was a Judaic scholar who collaborated with Robert Graves on several books.

This week relatives have paid tribute to the man and recalled how the young Professor Podro was destined to continue the family's academic traditions.

"His elder brother David fondly remembers that by the age of seven he had already found his true vocation and was in the habit of lecturing to his assembled line of toys," said nephew Robert Podro.

After receiving an English degree at Cambridge, he went on to found the art history department at the Camberwell School of Arts in 1961.

In 1964 he was a contributor, along with Jonathan Miller, to groundbreaking live arts programme Monitor on BBC2. Then in 1979, after a lectureship at the Warburg Institute, he became reader and then professor of art history at Essex University, where he built up an internationally renowned faculty.

"He commuted by train between Colchester and London where fellow passengers often 'benefited' from his lively discussions with other colleagues," said his nephew.

Michael became a trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1987 and was reappointed in 1991. He was made a CBE in 2000 for his services to the arts.

"His wonderfully distinctive features attracted two famous British artists and friends, RB Kitaj and Frank Auerbach, to paint him," added his nephew. "The number of ex-students and colleagues at his funeral in Willesden was a testament to the affection in which he was held."

He leaves behind his wife Charlotte, who he married in 1961, and two daughters, Sarah and Natasha.

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