Professional and Biographical Information
Ph.D., The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (1990)
M.A., Yale University (1978)
B.A., Oberlin College (1976)
A.M. (honorary), Amherst College (2004)
My publications span a wide range of areas within sixteenth and seventeenth-century European art history, including the art and architecture of the Vatican, Bernini sculpture, Rembrandt drawings, and most recently the art and architecture of French royal residences.
My focus these days is on how different forms of art help to formulate political expression in a rich and imaginative way that texts cannot. My latest research for a book entitled "Art and the Invention of Queenly Authority in France" examines ideologies of rule for early modern French queens through the art and architecture of French palaces.
From the mid-sixteenth through the seventeenth centuries, French queens' domiciles-including queens' wings in royal residences-and the art in them reveal political strategies to lend the appearance of authority to royal consorts and regents. Royal residences were where some of the most powerful expressions of leaders' authority for either gender were found. Owing to the early death of kings and the fragile condition of the state during this period, queens like Catherine de Medici, Marie de Medici, and Anne of Austria often oversaw the transformation of male rulers' authority declared in monumental artistic form in other European capitals into visual expressions of their own political prerogatives.
I enjoy teaching the history of Western European art beginning with cave painting to the present, but I specialize in teaching the art and architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800. My courses include general surveys of this field and upper-level classes in Renaissance and Baroque art. I also delve deeper into some of my intellectual and research interests with a lecture course on women and art in early modern Europe, an interdisciplinary colloquium "Renaissance Marvels" with Professor Bosman (English) using the collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and seminars on art as the expression of political identity in various courts of Europe.
For the last few years I have been teaching a First Year Seminar, "Encounters with Nature," together with Prof. Rick López in the History Department. Click on the video above to see how we teach about how nature was constructed and represented through art, poetry, and historical texts while we hike through the landscape talking, observing, and drawing.
I also look forward to teaching alumni and parents of Amherst students in the series "Amherst Today." I have taught "Cityscapes" with Professors Rosbottom (French and European Studies) and Hunt (History and Women and Gender Studies) and "From Private Storeroom to Public Gallery: Inside the Mead Art Museum" with Professors Clark and Morse (Fine Arts).
Chercheur invité, Institut national d'histoire de l'art (Spring 2013)
Clark Fellowship, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Fall 2012)
American Association of University Women post-doctoral grant (2004-2005)
Amherst College Senior Faculty Fellowship for sabbatical (1999-2000)
American Council of Learned Societies post-doctoral grant and Amherst College Trustee Faculty Fellowship (1994-1995)
Amherst College Faculty Research Grant (1991, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004)
American Academy Rome Prize Fellowship (1982-1983)
Fulbright-Hays Grant in Art History, West Germany (1976-1977)
Professor Courtright's book was awarded honorable mention for the Premio Salimbeni per la Storia e la Critica d'Arte.
In 2000, she gave the Millennium Lecture at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton on the subject of the Gregorian calendar reform.
In 2009, she gave a lecture on the subject of her current research on queens' residences in early modern France at the Collège de France, Paris.
Nicola Courtright, Editor in chief of Grove Art Online