An accomplished author from north Norfolk who had a broad knowledge and enthusiasm for all aspects of art history has died at the age of 72. 

Brian Dudley Barrett, of Holt, was also passionate about studying the architecture of English churches and cathedrals and had an impressive command of geology and invertebrate fossils. 

He would go on to work throughout his career in several prestigious places across the globe.  

Born in September 1951 at Dudley, near Birmingham in Warwickshire, Dr Barrett later moved to Leicester where he attended Gateway Boys Grammar School. 

In 1970, he attended the University of Exeter, Devon, and graduated with a BSc in geology. 

Following this, he moved to Vancouver in Canada and began working at the Museum of Vancouver until 1978, first training as a museum conservator and rising the ranks to departmental curator.  

During this time, he carried out contracts for museums in Seattle and San Francisco in the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, and Jamaica. 

Eastern Daily Press: Dr Brian Dudley Barrett

In 1978, he worked at the Bangor Museum and Art Gallery in Bangor, North Wales, until 1980 when he was appointed as a museum curator in Calabar, Nigeria, West Africa.  

While there, he collected artefacts for the Nigerian National Museum in Lagos and the British Museum in London.  

In 1982, he moved to Japan where he spent four years at the Kyoto Museum, learning skills as a Nishijin Guild Yuzen silk artist. It was there he met his Danish wife, Jane Heinemann. 

Four years later, they moved to the island of Fano in the Danish Frisian islands. 

Here Dr Barrett worked as curator and conservator for the island’s museum and art gallery. He was also contracted as a museum designer for the nearby Esbjerg Museum.  

During his time in Denmark, he wrote his first art catalogues and art books and designed conservation facilities, galleries, and exhibitions.  

Dr Barrett became the director of the Frisian Museum Project, organiser of Frisian Folk Music Festivals held in coastal Denmark, north Germany, and the Netherlands, and organised several exhibitions for art and history museums along the Frisian coast. 

He would go on to work at the Barbizon in Fontainbleau in France, where he lectured in art history at the European Institute of Business Administration, and was the curator of the Rosa Bonheur Museum.  

Finally, he worked as the art historian in residence at the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen in the Netherlands, designing and co-authoring a book on the exhibition on the artists' colony at Volendam. 

In 2011, he obtained his PhD from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands. 

Eastern Daily Press: Dr Barrett worked with the British Museum during his career

Paying tribute to him, his loved ones said: “Brian was an accomplished author who wrote 12 books on art history, artists’ lives, pigments and paints used, and on international artists' colonies that flourished along the Frisian coast of Europe. 

“Brian is survived by a wide circle of friends and colleagues in many different countries who had the privilege of his friendship and enjoyed his keen wit and sense of humour. 

“He will be greatly missed.” 

Dr Barrett was an enthusiastic supporter of Leicester City football club and followed cricket and rugby.  

He died at home on December 23, 2023. A private celebration of Brian's life will be held in lieu of service. 

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