Portraiture is a genre in which the subject and its context, both physical and historical, have infinite possibilities for interpretation and understanding. This article by Dean Steven Nelson reflects on the artist’s Gibbs-Coolidge paintings, the only surviving set of works depicting the first five presidents of the United States, showing how they are situated in both past and present narratives of national identity. He discusses the portraits’ relationship to changing definitions of American ideals and how the National Gallery of Art as an institution must strive to expand this representation and address the absences in its narrative.
Recent and Upcoming Publications
Gilbert Stuart and the Representation of the Nation (PDF 269KB)
Bulletin 62 (Fall 2020)
This year the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts welcomed fellows in residence from Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The topics of their research ranged from the response to industrially produced metals in mid-nineteenth-century France to the emergence and reception of Michelangelo’s non finito, from Japanese export lacquer for an Iberian clientele at the turn of the seventeenth century to work of the Italian artist Jacopo Bassano in the context of agricultural transformation on the Venetian mainland, and from sensory perceptions among the Yorùbá people to conceptual and performance art and social commentary in Chile from 1977 to 1983. Read more
The Global Reception of Heinrich Wölfflin's Principles of Art History
Studies in the History of Art, Volume 82
Edited by Evonne Levy and Tristan Weddigen, 2020
Can the reception of a single, widely disseminated book offer a historical road map for a global art history? This is the question posed by the editors of this volume of essays, which charts the enduring response to the Swiss art historian Heinrich Wölfflin’s Principles of Art History, first published in German in 1915. Translated into 22 languages and still in print in many of them, Wölfflin’s book inaugurated an art history based entirely on “forms of seeing” and employing a comparative method. Many of the translators and transmitters of the text are represented in essays on the book’s readership in Europe, North and South America, and South and East Asia. From its reception, positive and negative, the first genealogy of a global art history emerges.
The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts presents the video series Reflections on the Collection: The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors at the National Gallery of Art. In this series, Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors share their unique insights on works of art, selected by each professor, from the National Gallery of Art collection. The presentations that follow are a special opportunity to take a closer look at important works inside gallery spaces with these distinguished professors. Read more
The Thief Who Stole My Heart: The Material Life of Sacred Bronzes from Chola India, 855‒1280
Vidya Dehejia, May 2021
Leading art historian Vidya Dehejia presents the first book to put the sacred and sensuous bronze statues from India’s Chola dynasty in social context.
Part of the Bollingen Series of Princeton University Press, this publication is based on The Sixty-Fifth A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, presented by Dehejia in the spring of 2016. Watch or listen to the six-part series.
Boundary Trouble: The Self-Taught Artist and American Avant-Gardes
Studies in the History of Art, 84
Edited by Lynne Cooke, forthcoming
The African American Art World in Twentieth-Century Washington, DC
Studies in the History of Art, 83
Edited by Jeffrey Stewart, forthcoming
Seminar Papers, Volume 4
Co-edited by Steven Nelson and Huey Gene Copeland II, forthcoming