Fields of Study: Nineteenth-century Art and Architecture

At Penn students may study all the arts of a “long” nineteenth century, including the painting, graphic arts, photography, early cinema, and architecture of Europe, North America and East Asia from the late 1700s until the First World War.  The History of Art Department is home to five specialists in this period, who collaborate in teaching and advising students. 

André Dombrowski has written widely about French art of the late nineteenth century, with a special focus on its political and cultural meanings, but his interest covers all aspects of nineteenth-century European art and material culture, including new media, technology, science, and sexuality.  Michael Leja’s work on nineteenth-century American art has charted the crosscurrents between popular culture and the making and reception of high art.  Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw’s research illuminates major questions about American art in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from the study of race, gender, sexuality, and class.  Julie Nelson Davis specializes in the arts of modern Japan and is a leading scholar of the prints and paintings of Ukiyo-e, which chronicle life in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) from the eighteenth through the later nineteenth century.  David Brownlee is a historian of European and American architecture and urbanism, who has written about German neoclassicism, the English Gothic Revival, and the monumental architecture and city planning of America in the Progressive Era.  Karen Beckman has written about and continues to explore the visual and audio-visual terrains of photography, philosophical toys, and early cinema.

The study of nineteenth-century art at Penn is supported by close cooperation among these faculty and colleagues in other departments, and by supportive relationships with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and other regional institutions.