FORMER curator of York Art Gallery and distinguished art historian John Ingamells has died, aged 78.

Peter Miller, vice president of the Friends of York Art Gallery, said John was the gallery’s curator for ten years from 1967 to 1977.

However, his first curatorial job had been in the city in the late 1950s, when he had worked as assistant to curator Hans Hess.

“In that time, he did much of the work on the three volume catalogue of the pictures in York Art Gallery, a catalogue that has not been superseded,” he said.

He said John returned to York to take over as curator when Mr Hess moved to Sussex and during his second stay in York, he organised major exhibitions on William Mason, A Candidate For Praise, and, with Bernard Barr, York Minster – the Beautifullest Church.

“In addition, he published major articles on Philip Mercier, with Robert Raines, and on Andrea Soldi, both for the Walpole Society, as well as cataloguing the portraits of Archbishops at Bishopthorpe Palace.

“John was expecting to stay in York as curator and was somewhat surprised to be offered a job at the Wallace Collection in London in 1977, where he took over as director.”

He said John retired in 1992 at the age of 58, because he felt that he had done his work there and that he should hand over to a younger colleague.

But he was then asked to edit the Brinsley Ford archive of 18th century travellers to Italy, a huge archive that had defeated a whole generation of researchers.

“John set to work stating only two conditions: the use of a good computer and access to an ashtray.

“In three years he had completed this monumental task – he wrote a million words virtually single-handed at the rate of 1,000 words a day.

“He retained a great affection for York and remained a keen supporter of York City Football Club to the end of his days.”

He said John, whose funeral took place earlier this week, was “brought low” by cancer in his last years and was further saddened by the death of his wife, Hazel, in 2012.

He leaves two daughters, Annie and Claire, and two grandchildren.