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University of Pennsylvania, PhD, 1998

A specialist in Italian art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, James Harper holds a PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania. His research treats the intersections of art and politics and he has written on topics including monumental biographical imagery as a form of propaganda, materiality and meaning in tapestry, the image of the Turk in western art, the high baroque painter Pietro da Cortona, “art strategies” at the papal court, and the reception of art and architecture in the era of the Grand Tour. His work has received the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Samuel Kress Foundation, the Graham Foundation, and Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

Harper offers 300-level courses in Renaissance and Baroque Art of Northern Europe, Southern Europe and Latin America. He also teaches graduate and undergraduate seminars on topics including “The Italian Renaissance Villa,” “The Cross-Cultural Encounter in Renaissance and Baroque Art,” “Caravaggio and his Age,” and “Ephemeral Art.” He also teaches lifelong learners in the University's Insight Seminars program and in the Smithsonian Institution's "Smithsonian Journeys" program.  

Harper is the Director of the University of Oregon's interdisciplinary Museum Studies Program. Prior to coming to the University of Oregon in 2000, he worked in museums including the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Harvard University Art Museums. In Oregon he maintains a close relationship with the University’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, where he has served as a guest curator and as a member of the museum’s Leadership Council.


The Barberini Tapestries: Woven Monuments of Baroque Rome (with Marlene Eidelheit), Milan: Officina Libraria, 2017

Giuseppe Vasi's Rome: Lasting Impressions from the Age of the Grand Tour, co-authored with James T. Tice.
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and Princeton University Art Museum; distributed by University of Delaware Press, 2010

The 'Turk' and Islam in the Western Eye (1453-1750), volume of essays by various authors, edited and with an introduction by James Harper.
Burlington (USA) and Aldershot (UK): Ashgate Press, 2011

Verso: The Flip Side of Master Drawings
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Art Museums, 2001

Selected Courses Taught

ARH 101  Global Masterpieces: Monuments in Context

ARH 205  Western Art II

ARH 341  Italian Renaissance Art

ARH 342  Southern European Baroque Art

ARH 343  Northern Renaissance Art

ARH 344  Northern European Baroque Art

ARH 348  Rome in the Age of Bernini

ARH 4|507, 4|510, 441|541  Topics in Renaissance and Baroque (in rotation):

Art & Politics from Michelangelo to YouTube
Caravaggio and his Age
The Cross-Cultural Encounter in Renaissance and Baroque Art
The Italian Renaissance Villa
Collecting and the Museum
Inside the Museum Exhibition