Christopher M.S. Johns
Ph.D., University of Delaware
Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century European Art
Long fascinated by the relationship between art and politics, particularly in the context of art patronage, my work attempts to explain the public motivations for commissioning works of art in early modern Europe. I have published extensively on the topic, ranging from the Stuart court of Charles I and Anthony van Dyck in the Baroque era to Antonio Canova's dealings with the Bonaparte family in the early nineteenth century. At present, I am completing a book-length manuscript titled "The Visual Culture of Catholic Enlightenment: Papal Art in Eighteenth-Century Rome."
This book examines works of art and material culture that embody an emerging Catholic ideology of social service and utility rather than the mystical traditions and more authoritarian traditions of the immediate past. Ranging from urbanism, museology, print culture and altarpiece production to liturgical vestments, reliquaries and porcelain, I hope to shed light on the role art played in the construction of Christian ideology as the Catholic Church attempted to engage an increasingly secular European culture on its own terms in the middle decades of the eighteenth century. My broader research interests include the development of museums, art and travel and global commodities exchange in the eighteenth century, above all the trade in porcelain.