Vanderbilt University History of Art Blog

Sarah Madole Lewis to Lecture on a Tyrian Battle Sarcophagus on January 24

madole.tyre.sarc (3)Sarah Madole Lewis, assistant professor of art history, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, will present a lecture on Thursday, January 24, at 4:10 pm in Cohen Hall 203, with a reception to follow in the atrium. The lecture is entitled “A Third-Century Battle Sarcophagus in Tyre: Love and War in Roman Syria.”

Lewis will consider a monumental sarcophagus found in Tyre, a wealthy city in the Roman province of Syria. Scenes of battle from the Trojan War decorate the sarcophagus chest, and the owner-couple recline on the couch-shaped lid. Thus, the heroic, manly scene is juxtaposed with an expression of marital unity and love. The sarcophagus type, which is connected with the Attic tradition, and its imagery, carried a particular expression of identity politics in the Roman world, in Tyre and other provincial spheres, such as Ephesos. Lewis will examine the Tyrian sarcophagus in light of related regional and interregional funerary monuments in its third-century context, a time of war and political upheaval in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.

Lewis received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 2012. Her primary area of expertise is in the art and archaeology of the ancient world, with a specialization in Roman sarcophagi, regional contexts and social experience. In recent years she has held a faculty development grant for research in Lebanon. In support of her research on sarcophagi and catacombs in Rome, Lewis received a Franklin Grant from the American Philosophical Society and was named Shohet Scholar of the International Catacomb Society. Her research has taken her from Spain to Syria and everywhere in between, most consistently to Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Sponsored by the Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies with the support of the Department of History of Art, her lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in all non-reserved spaces in Lot 95 near Cohen Hall on the Peabody campus.

Posted by on January 16, 2019 in Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Digital Futures, Archaeological Pasts: Student-Curated Exhibition Extended Through January 31

digitalfutures2Digital Futures, Archaeological Pasts, a student-curated exhibition in Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery, will remain on view through January 31 in Cohen Memorial Hall.

During the spring semester 2018, nine history of art students studied a selection of ancient Mediterranean antiquities from the gallery’s permanent collection. The objects at the center of the exhibit range in date from the sixth century BCE to the first century CE and include Greek and Etruscan vases, a Greek coin, and a Greco-Roman marble sculptural head.

In addition to exploring each object’s historical context and significance, the students learned photogrammetry, a process for generating digital models of 3D objects through photography. By creating and printing these digital 3D models, students sought insight into how new, digital approaches might facilitate research into, and engagement with, ancient material and visual culture.

The exhibition was curated by Aleah Davis ’21, Joseph Eilbert ’19, Brant Feick ’18, Lindsay Fraser ’19, Kinsley Ray ’21, Gabrielle Rodriguez ’21, Heaven Russell ’21, Kalen Scott ’21, and Sarah Taylor ’18.

The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall at 1220 21st Avenue South on the Peabody College campus. Gallery hours are from 11 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, and from 1 to 5 pm weekends. Parking is available in all non-reserved spaces in Lot 95 near Cohen Hall on the Peabody campus.

*Photo illustration of the 3D scanning of a red-figure skyphos, Etruria (Italy), ca. 340-300 BCE. Polychromed terracotta, Peabody College Collection, 1979.

Posted by on January 15, 2019 in Digital Humanities, Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

ArtLab @ Vanderbilt Hosts Opening Reception January 18 at The Curb Center

Faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate students will explore the intersection of art and science through a new exhibition that highlights the work of past ArtLab participants and introduces new ArtLab fellows.

Connecting the Dots” opens Friday, January 18, with a reception from 4 to 7 pm at The Curb Center, located at 1801 Edgehill Avenue. The event is free and open to the Vanderbilt community. On display through March 15, the exhibit will feature work by artists Jamie Wenke, genomics scientist; students Jacob L. Steenwyk and Eve Moll; Kendra Oliver, research instructor in pharmacology; and Marilyn Murphy, professor of art, emerita.



ArtLab attempts to connect artists and scientists within the Vanderbilt community. Participants gain experience in artistic and scientific processes and contribute to a work of art that is shown during a final exhibition.

“For me, bridging art and science is a way to open the beauty and complexity of science to diverse learners of all ages and backgrounds,” said Oliver, who started ArtLab as an interdisciplinary workshop at Vanderbilt in the fall of 2017.

Posted by on January 14, 2019 in Digital Humanities, Events, HART, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

“Then & Now: Five Centuries of Woodcuts” Opens January 10

WoodcutsThenNowThen & Now: Five Centuries of Woodcuts (January 10-March 1, 2019) features more than forty prints from Vanderbilt’s collections, surveying the wide range of woodcuts created over 500 years and across many cultures. Together, these works speak to the arresting potential of the woodcut medium and its persistent place in contemporary art.

The Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery exhibit opens Thursday, January 10, in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus, with a reception from 5 to 7 pm in the atrium. Gallery hours are 11am to 4pm Monday through Friday, and 1 to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Beginning with Michael Wolgemut’s Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (ca. 1491), the exhibition continues its survey through 16th-century examples by the Northern Renaissance master of the medium Albrecht Dürer, a student of Wolgemut, as well as works by other prominent German artists, including Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Baldung Grien, and Albrecht Altdorfer. Spotlighting printmaking practices outside of Germany are chiaroscuro woodcuts by Italian artists Ugo da Carpi, one of the first practitioners of this early form of color printmaking, and Antonio Fantuzzi da Trento, as well as an example by Netherlandish artist Paulus Moreelse. Also on view is a recently conserved 17th-century woodcut, Hercules Overcoming Envy, by Christoffel Jegher after a design by Peter Paul Rubens—often considered to be one of the most important works in the history of printmaking.

The 19th century is represented by The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, a rare, large-scale volume printed in 1896 by William Morris, with engraved illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones, on loan from Vanderbilt’s Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.

Moving into the 20th century, a suite of powerful woodcuts created by World War I veteran and artist Conrad Felixmüller in 1918 and a work from 1923 by Gerhard Marcks help illuminate the medium’s more recent revival at the hands of prominent German Expressionists, who were directly inspired by medieval woodcuts. A print by Dadaist Hans Arp is included among those on view, along with works by other 20th-century artists such as the Americans Fritz Eichenberg and Sidney Chafetz. (The latter two are recent gifts that will be shown for the first time in the gallery.)

Two prints from a portfolio created by contemporary American artist Jay Bolotin, as source material for what may be the first animated woodcut film, are also on view, along with the film itself. Additional 21st-century prints, by the German artist Christiane Baumgartner and the Korean-born artist Koo Kyung Sook, bring the exhibition into the present, illustrating the medium’s arresting potential and persistent place in contemporary art.

A concurrent presentation of works in Gallery 2, curated by Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery intern Echo Sun (art and psychology major, Class of 2020), focuses on Japanese woodblock prints from the 19th and 20th centuries. This display of work reveals the enduring influence of traditional ukiyo-e (pictures of the “floating world”) prints, while highlighting examples of more contemporary, artist-driven expressions of the form. This companion presentation to Then & Now: Five Centuries of Woodcuts includes editions by Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Kiyoshi Saito, and Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei), among other Japanese artists working in the woodblock print medium over these two centuries.

Free and open to the public, the exhibit, curated by Joseph Mella, gallery director, will be on view through Friday, March 1. Parking is available anywhere in Lot 95 on the Peabody campus, accessible from 21st Avenue South.

*Antonio Fantuzzi da Trento (Italian, 1510–1550). The Virgin, Christ Child, and Saint John the Baptist, after Parmigianino (Italian, 1503–1540), ca. 1540-1550, chiaroscuro woodcut on woven paper, 7-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches,The Anna C. Hoyt Collection, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery.

Posted by on January 3, 2019 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, News, Student/Alumni, VRC

Julia Kamasz and Luna Offer Stress Relief to Students During Finals Week

lunatherapydog1HART’s Julia Kamasz and Luna, her beloved border collie/therapy dog, spent several hours at the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center on December 12 to offer stress relief and study breaks for students during finals week.

“Luna and I found great joy in interacting with the students,” said Kamasz, “and made some new friends.”

Therapy dog programs for stress relief are becoming increasingly popular in libraries and on college campuses across the United States. Studies have shown that petting an animal can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce stress and ease tension.lunatherapydog4

Therapy dogs also take exams. Luna undergoes training and testing throughout the year for canine good citizenship and therapy dog certification. She also serves as a therapy dog at the Davidson County Juvenile Court.

Luna works for Music City Pet Partners, a nonprofit organization serving Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky that promotes well-being, provides companionship, and educates our community by training and supporting therapy animal teams. For more information about the organization, please send general inquiries to

Posted by on December 14, 2018 in Events, HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Tracy Miller Delivers Keynote Speech at Society for Architectural Historians–Taiwan

tracymillerconferenceposterTracy Miller, associate professor of history of art, delivered the keynote address at the Society for Architectural Historians–Taiwan on November 25 in Kaohsiung. Miller’s talk was entitled “Monks, Building Masters, and Creativity in the Architecture of Medieval Chinese Buddhism.”



tracymillerpresentedgift Shang-chia Chiou, president of the Society for Architectural Historians–Taiwan, presents Miller with a gift at the conference.

Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Conferences, Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Doughnut Days Held December 10 and 12 in Cohen 134

doughnutdaysThe Visual Resources Center (VRC) invites students, faculty, and staff to join us for coffee and doughnuts in Cohen 134 on Monday, December 10, and Wednesday, December 12. Coffee, tea and juices will be available Monday through Friday during final exams.

Pour yourself a cup and dash to class or stay for a while and review images streaming across the big screen at the end of our large study table or simply sit down and take some time to relax and enjoy a cup of java or tea.

Posted by on December 7, 2018 in Events, HART, News, Student/Alumni, Vanderbilt University, VRC

Sheri Shaneyfelt Lectures on Perugino’s Workshops in Florence and Perugia at Venice Conference

Sheri Shaneyfelt, principal senior lecturer in the history of art and the department’s director of undergraduate studies, presented a paper at the University of Warwick in Venice conference on November 27, which was held in the fifteenth-century Palazzo Pesaro-Papafava. Her talk was entitled “Renaissance Painting in Perugia: Pietro Perugino and the Italian Renaissance Workshop.”

perugino_decemviri2In the year 1500, the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi, writing from Rome to his father in Siena, described Pietro Perugino as “il meglio maestro d’Italia.” The classicizing solemnity, simple, formal beauty, and jewel-toned palette of his compositions were frequently imitated by his pupils, contemporaries, and followers. To meet rising demand, Perugino operated sizeable botteghe in both Florence and Perugia, from 1487 to 1511.

After considering the nature and composition of Perugino’s workshops, Shaneyfelt focused on the Società del 1496, a cooperative of five artists working in Perugia who capitalized on their ability to replicate Perugino’s manner, modeling compositional designs after the master. Their alliance, together with their interrelations among other local artists, is indicative of the community of collaboration inherent in the production of art in Renaissance Italy. Lastly, she introduced a group of pictures formulated after Perugino’s own, yet in the tondo format, which was far more common in Florence.

*Pietro Perugino, Pala dei Decemviri, tempera grassa on panel, 1495-1496, 193 x 165 cm, Vatican Pinacoteca.


Posted by on December 5, 2018 in Conferences, Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

“Pompeii Archive: Recent Photographs by William Wylie” Closes December 6

wyliepompeiibodycastDestroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ancient city of Pompeii has captured the imagination of the public since it was first excavated in 1748. Pompeii Archive: Recent Photographs by William Wylie, on view in the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery through December 6, features a selection of recent work by artist and photographer William Wylie, professor of art, University of Virginia, that explores the famous archaeological site. Alongside Wylie’s contemporary photographs are several by Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914), a German photographer who documented the excavation of the site in the mid-nineteenth century.

Pompeii Archive: Recent Photographs by William Wylie, organized by the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University, is brought to the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, in part, through the generous support of the Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies, with additional support provided by the Department of History of Art and the Department of Art.

The Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall at 1220 21st Avenue South on the Peabody College campus. Gallery hours (through December 6) are from 11 am to 4 pm. Parking is available in all non-reserved spaces in Lot 95 near Cohen Hall on the Peabody campus.

*William Wylie. Body cast, Macellum (VII.9.7), Pompeii,” 2015, archival pigment print, 37 x 45 inches

Posted by on December 4, 2018 in Events, Fine Arts Gallery, HART, News, VRC

Betsey Robinson Lectures on Ancient Landscapes at Hollins University Classics Symposium

Betsey Robinson, acting chair and associate professor of history of art, was an invited speaker at the annual Hollins University Classics Symposium in Roanoke, VA, on November 8. This year’s theme was “Being There–Martial and Mythological Landscapes of Greece.” Robinson’s lecture, entitled “Musing on Mountain Landscapes in Central Greece,” surveyed her ongoing work and recent discoveries on Greek mountains and their ancient sacred and mythological traditions, from Parnassos and Helikon to Arcadian Mount Chelmos and the marvelous waters of the Styx near the peak.

Robinson contrasted eyewitness accounts and imagined views as well as the interplays of religion and reputation in those ancient places. Her talk was paired with another, by Matt Sears of the University of New Brunswick, who focused on ancient battlefields and the experience—and importance—of visiting them, today as in MountChelmosantiquity.


Mount Chelmos, ancient Arcadia, and the real water of the Styx (see arrow–just a trickle by early July).

“That cold water that drizzles down from a steep sky-climbing cliffside, and it is one horn of the Okeanos stream, and travels off that holy river a great course through night’s blackness under the wide-wayed earth and … this stream, greatly vexing the gods, runs off the precipice … the imperishable, primeval water of Styx…”  Hesiod’s Theogony 775 (transl. Evelyn-White) [8th or 7th century BCE]





Early sunset, Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, on Mount Parnassos





Goats above the ancient theater in the Valley of the Muses, Mount Helikon, Central Greece



Posted by on November 30, 2018 in Conferences, Events, HART, Lectures, News, Vanderbilt University, VRC

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