- Deceased's name: Anna Elizabeth "Anneliese" Harding
- Age: 90
- Date: December 29, 2010
- Hometown: Wellesley
- Survived by: Children, Christopher of Dorchester, Peter and his wife, Kethi Maw Naing, of Peru, Fr. Nicholas of Tijuana, Mexico, Luke and his wife, Conni Harding, Portsmouth, RI and Mark of MA.
Anneliese is also survived by grandchildren, Joseph, Tinsa-Ann, and James Harding; Kristin Harding and Kaitie Ledsworth; and by Jameson and Jack Harding and David and Chase Neal and great-granddaughter, Layla Ledsworth.
Annaliese was the beloved wife of the late Robert Alexander Harding.
Anneliese Semar was born on May 6, 1920, in the German village of Contwig, in the Rhineland-Palatinate near the French border. She and her late older sister Erni (Erna Johanna) were the only children of the late Josef and Magdalena (Hochreither) Semar.
Her family soon moved to the town of Zweibrücken ("Two Bridges"). Despite suffering deprivation and near-starvation during years in Nazi Germany, she pursued her dream of studying the history of art at the Universities of Prague, Czechoslovakia and of Budapest, Hungary, where she wrote reviews for newspapers and modeled for painters and sculptors. She received her Ph.D. in History of Art from Charles University of Prague, becoming the first woman in her hometown to earn a doctorate.
In 1946 in Germany, she fell in love with Dorchester-raised, First Lieutenant Robert A. Harding. Their marriage in 1947 in Boston merited an article in the Boston Globe titled "Boston Man Marries German Girl," an unusual occurrence in the immediate wake of WWII. In the late 1940's she became an American citizen and taught German at the Berlitz School Boston.
Her husband's professional responsibilities to Union Carbide took their growing family first to Charleston, WV, then to Hartsdale, NY and starting in 1961 on a series of overseas assignments (five years in Argentina, two years in Switzerland, and another two in Belgium).
While rearing her five sons, Dr. Harding researched the art of the countries in which she happened to be living. In Buenos Aires, she published essays on Argentine art; in Brussels, articles on Flemish art.
The Hardings returned to the US and settled in Wellesley, in 1969. Mrs. Harding became an art-history commentator for the German Hour on WGBH.
Beginning in1971, she gave gallery talks at Harvard's Busch-Reisinger Museum, and later joined the team of Harvard docents presenting also at the Fogg and Sackler Museums. In 1972, she also assumed similar docent duties at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center of Wellesley College.
In 1973, Dr. Harding joined the staff of the Goethe Institut of Boston, as resident art-historian and coordinator of exhibitions. She conceived and assembled several traveling exhibitions. Though originally intended to circulate through New England, some of her exhibitions have been shown throughout the United States and in Australia.
Before she retired from the Goethe Institut, the German government awarded her the Bundes Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Officer's Cross, a medal for distinguished service to the German nation) on October 9, 1981 for her promotion of German art and culture.
Dr. Harding's areas of greatest expertise were religious art, Northern European art and German immigrant artists in the US. Her interest in the Bauhaus architecture and design movement led to her becoming a confidante of Ise Gropius, widow of the founder of the Bauhaus School, Walter Gropius.
Her crowning achievement was the publication of John Lewis Krimmel: Genre Artist of the Early Republic (Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum of Delaware, 1994), the definitive biography and appreciation of America's first genre artist.
Her many other publications include German Sculpture in New England Museums; America Through the Eyes of German Immigrant Artists; The Edible Mass Medium: A History of 17th, 18th and 19th Century Cookie Molds; and The Merry-Go-Round of Nursery Rhymes: A Comparison of English, Spanish, German and French Children's Rhymes.
Her scholarship and engaging presentation style won her invitations to speaking engagements in Wyoming and Canada. She taught a course on "The Northern Renaissance" at Tufts University and guest-lectured at many New England universities, including Suffolk University.
Suffolk bestowed her an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on June 12, 1977 in a ceremony at which Suffolk President Thomas A. Fulham said, "Our students and faculty will be forever grateful for the aesthetic enjoyment and yearning for harmony which your numerous exhibits and illuminating commentaries have created."
In later years she was a daily communicant at St. Paul's Church.
Funeral from the George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home 477 Washington St. (RT. 16), Wellesley, Monday, January 3, 10 a.m. Funeral Mass in St. Paul's Church, Wellesley, 11 a.m. Relatives and friends kindly invited. Visiting hours Sunday, January 2, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Interment private.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to the missionary order of her son Fr. Nicholas Harding, who ministers in Tijuana, Mexico. To donate online: www.charitablegifts.org. Mailing address: Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Charitable Gifts Department, 9480 N. De Mazenod Dr, Belleville IL 62223-1160 .