Art History

Trinity’s Fine Arts Department takes great pride in its Art History Program. While small enough to offer students individual attention, it is also worldly enough to endow them with a breadth of knowledge essential to a career in art and architectural history and their related fields. The five full-time members of the department—and a fine cadre of adjunct professors—teach courses that span the globe.

Trinity’s art history faculty is one of the department’s strengths. Our most senior member, Alden Gordon, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts, teaches courses on 18th and 19th century European art, architecture, the decorative arts, the history of prints, and the history of collecting. Professor Gordon is founding director of Trinity’s Paris global site for study abroad. Renaissance scholar Jean Cadogan teaches courses on European art of the Middle Ages and Early and High Renaissance art. Her research focuses on Italian painting and graphic arts of the 14th and 15th centuries. Michael FitzGerald publishes and lectures widely on 20th century art. His teaching includes courses on the history of photography and film, as well as specialized courses on the art market.  He has curated a number of major exhibitions and is currently working on a history of museums of modern art.

The Art History Program also includes two architectural historians. Kathleen Curran teaches courses in modern architectural history (19th and 20th centuries) and in American art. Her specialties include 19th century medievalism in Germany and the United States. She is now completing a book on the intellectual origins of the American art museum.  Kristin Triff teaches courses on 17th century (baroque) art and architecture, and on Spanish Colonial art and architecture. Her forthcoming book on the Orsini Palace at Monte Giordano in Rome examines one of the city’s palaces in the contexts of political, social, and architectural history during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Professors Triff and Curran also direct a very popular minor in architectural studies.

The Art History Program’s strengths are enhanced by our outstanding adjunct professors. Chung-Lan Wang​ teaches the introduction to Asian art, the arts of China and the arts of Japan, as well as seminars in Asian art. 

Mary Tompkins Lewis teaches courses on 18th and 19th century European painting, and 17th century Spanish painting. Her publications have focused on Cézanne and French Impressionism. She also contributes frequently to the Wall Street Journal.

Michelle Gilbert teaches courses on African art and architecture, by exploring their cultural depths, symbolic meaning, formal varieties, historical complexities, and dynamic transformations. Her long-term research project on a complex ritual cycle in a small kingdom in Ghana has led to numerous publications on religion, art, political power, divine kingship, and “popular” urban art.

Courses in many other disciplines of special interest—history, Italian studies, foreign languages, religion, American studies, classics, architectural drawing and design, urban studies, and international studies—are all available at the College. We encourage students to take advantage of these course offerings.​

Think Outside the Box

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What can you do with an art history degree?

David Duncan ’79, a former art history major and current architect who has his own firm in Old Lyme, Connecticut, on the construction site of one of the many homes he has designed.

Art History Alumni

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Claire Pingel ’95

Chief Registrar and Associate Curator at the National Museum of Jewish American History (NMJAH)