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Art & Art History

Janson-La Palme Distinguished Lecture in European Art History

Established by Washington College Professor Emeritus Robert J. H. Janson-La Palme and his wife, Bayly, brings internationally known scholars on European art to campus for public lectures and presentations.

April 17, 2017 @ 4:30pm in Decker Theatre

Joseph Koerner, Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, will deliver the Janson-La Palme Distinguished Lecture in European Art History at Washington College.  The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Decker Theatre of the Gibson Center for the Arts at 4:30 PM on Monday, April 17.

The Moment of the Fall: The Ethical Challenge of Adam and Eve in Renaissance Art

Of all the tales people told about themselves, the story of Adam and Eve has been the most powerful and enduring.  In the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds, people practiced ethical reasoning through the seedpod of this one strange story: the first man, followed soon by the first woman, disobeys his creator and is punished by sickness, hardship, and death. During the Renaissance, especially, the Fall tested the mettle of Renaissance artists through the challenge posed by the nude and through the leap, described in the story, from innocence to guilt.  Restricted to a static medium, painters and sculptors entangled a “before” the Fall and an “after,” and this prompted ethical reasoning in artists and viewers.  This lecture explores how Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, and other European masters portrayed humanity’s pivotal moment.


Jeffery Chipps Smith, the Kay Fortson Chair in European Art at the University of Texas and author of Dürer, published in 2012 by Phaidon. “Dürer on the Museum.”


Mariët Westermann, Vice President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, New York, formerly Director, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and Founding CEO and Provost, New York University, Abu Dhabi. “Silence in the Studio: Vermeer and Terborch.”


Martin J. Kemp, Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art at University of Oxford. “Leonardo da Vinci: Visions of Earth and Heaven.”


Keith Christiansen, visiting lecturer

Keith Christiansen, John Pope Hennessy Chairman, Department of Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, “Bellini, Saint Francis and the Religious Poesia.” 

Bellini's Saint Francis

Giovanni Bellini’s painting of Saint Francis in the Frick Collection is often considered one of the greatest Renaissance paintings in America. It is also one Bellini’s most enigmatic masterpieces: after generations of erudite scholarship we are still uncertain what its subject is. Keith Christiansen will review what we know of its history and discuss the new kind of poetics of painting it proposes and the active viewer it requires. 


Earl A. Powell III, Director of the National Gallery of Art. “The National Gallery in the New Century.” 


Peter Humfrey, Professor of Art History, School of Art History, St. Andrew’s University, Scotland. “Giovanni Bellini and his Patrons.” 


Thomas Crow, Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art History, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. “Composition and Decomposition in Girodet’s Revolt of Cairo.” 


Paul Barolsky, Commonwealth Professor of Art History, University of Virginia. “Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the History of Art.”


Robert Rosenblum, Henry Ittleson, Jr., Professor of Modern European Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Stephen and Nan Swid Curator of Twentieth-Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. “Unbridled Passions: Animals in Romantic Art.”