Eric Haskell Knighted With Two of France’s Highest Cultural Honors

by Mary Bartlett

Professor Eric Haskell

Experiencing an Eric Haskell lecture is like being immersed in a French play—one set in a meticulously landscaped garden, with strolling minstrels, courtiers, and ladies with towering powdered hair poufs and twirling parasols.

He is that dramatic—and delightful. He is also one of the most knowledgeable experts on French art and culture in the world.

For this he has earned much acclaim, including 11 Outstanding Faculty Achievements Awards from Scripps College in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service, and a Mellon Grant for his work on verbal-visual inquiry. Dr. Haskell is professor of French studies and director of the Clark Humanities Museum at Scripps.

Now, his recognition is global, as he has received two of France’s most coveted and highest cultural honors: Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight of the Order of the Academic Palms).

The Order of Arts and Letters recognizes individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the arts, literature, and the promulgation of cultural heritage in France and throughout the world. France’s premier national cultural honor, it was established by the Minister of Culture in 1957 and confirmed by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Past recipients include Marcel Marceau, Audrey Hepburn, Rudolf Nureyev, Philip Glass, T.S. Eliot, and former First Lady of France Carla Bruni- Sarkozy. Dr. Haskell was presented with the Chevalier medallion on July 27, 2013, in Normandy at the Château de Bénouville, near Caen, France. On that occasion, he gave the inaugural lecture for the new European Institute of Gardens and Landscapes on “The French Formal Garden: Creation, Realization, and Evolution of an Astonishing Landscape Art.” He followed this on August 17, 2013, with “Sites of Seduction: Gardens and Follies of Eighteenth-Century France.”

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Order of the Academic Palms to honor outstanding scholarly achievement. The oldest non-military French decoration and the most prestigious honor for academics, it recognizes distinguished teaching, uncommon scholarship, and exceptional leadership over the course of a professor’s career. The Palmes Académiques are awarded by the prime minister of France upon the recommendation of the minister of education.

The presentation of the Palmes Académiques to Dr. Haskell was held on November 19, 2013, in the Clark Humanities Museum, with the consul general of France officiating.

A Pomona College graduate, Dr. Haskell received his PhD in French literature from the University of California, Irvine, and studied art history and architecture at the École du Louvre in Paris. He has taught at Scripps since 1979.

Dr. Haskell’s publications cover topics from nineteenth-century poetry to garden history. His Le Nôtre’s Gardens accompanied an exhibition he curated at the Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. His recent book, Les Jardins de Brécy: Le Paradis Retrouvé / The Gardens of Brécy: A Lasting Landscape, was published in Paris by Les Editions du Huitième Jour in both French and English. He has curated more than a dozen exhibits, authored numerous exhibition catalogues, and directed 16 French plays.

He has delivered more than 550 public lectures and scholarly papers in 27 states and in 12 foreign countries and is a frequently-requested lecturer at alumnae events. Selected venues include the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco’s de Young and Legion of Honor Museums, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Royal Museum of Scotland, as well as the Alliance Française and the French Heritage Society. He has spoken at the botanical gardens of Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Worth, and Birmingham, Alabama.

He has delivered scholarly papers at educational institutions including, among others, Stanford, the University of California, USC, Duke, Yale, Harvard, and the Universities of London, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Hamburg, Hannover, Sweden, Tunisia, Ottawa, and Trinity College, Dublin. In 2000, he was honored as the keynote speaker for the Millennium Meeting of the Garden Club of America.

Dr. Eric Haskell’s distinguished list of accomplishments is equaled only by his gift for informing and enchanting his audiences. Félicitations!


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