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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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James Harper

Associate Research Professor of Art History, Director of Museum Studies
headshot photo of James Harper wearing stripe shirt and black jacket

A specialist in European art of the seventeenth century, James Harper holds a PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania. His research treats the intersection 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.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, Harper taught at the University of Oregon and worked in museums including the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Harvard University Art Museums.

  • Education

    B.A. Trinity College

    Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

  • Courses Taught

    ARTH 105 Pictures & Power

    ARTH 204 The Art of Marvel: Southern European Baroque

    ARTH 314 Art in the Age of Rembrandt

    ARTH 409 Museum Studies

    ARTH 429 Studies in Baroque Art (Topics Vary)

  • Honors + Awards

    Former Fellow, Villa I Tatti (The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies)

  • Publications + Presentations

    The Barberini Tapestries: Woven Monuments of Baroque Rome (2017)

    The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye: Visual Imagery before Orientalism 1450-1750 (2011)

    Giuseppe Vasi’s Rome: Lasting Impressions from the Age of the Grand Tour (2010, co-authored with James Tice)

  • Expertise

    Italian Art

    The Baroque Era

    European Tapestry

    Art and Politics