Stephen Perkinson

Associate Professor of Art History, Chair of Art History Division of Department of Art, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Stephen Perkinson’s scholarship focuses on Medieval and Renaissance art of Northern Europe. He has published on topics ranging from the 13th to the 16th centuries. His 2009 study of the origins of portraiture (The Likeness of the King, Univ. of Chicago Press) was the recipient of the 2009 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for Best Book in Intellectual History. He has also collaborated extensively with art museums. Most recently, he was curator of The Ivory Mirror: The Art of Mortality in Renaissance Europe (Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2017; catalogue distributed by Yale University Press), a major loan exhibition that shed new light on memento mori imagery and ivory carving in Northern Europe around the year 1500. Prior to that project, he produced work in conjunction with exhibitions of material from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (Object of Devotion, 2010) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Set in Stone, 2006). He is also the author of essays that have appeared in The Art Bulletin, Speculum, Gesta, and elsewhere. At Bowdoin, he teaches courses that cover material ranging from the late antique world of the Mediterranean to the Renaissance in Northern Europe, and addressing the artistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


  • Ph.D., Northwestern University; Evanston, IL, 1998
  • B.A., Colgate University; Hamilton, NY, 1989



The Ivory Mirror. The Art of Mortality in Renaissance Europe. (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2017.  Distributed by New Haven and London: Yale University Press)

Book Cover: The Ivory Mirror

The Likeness of the King: A Prehistory of Portraiture in Late Medieval France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009) [REVIEWS: Harper’s320:1918 (March, 2010): 69-70; H-France Review 10: 212 (December, 2010), 910-914; CAA Reviews (December, 2010)] [AWARD: The 2009 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for Best Book in Intellectual History, awarded by the Journal of the History of Ideas].

Stephen Perkinson The Likeness of the King

Selected Articles and Essays

“Likeness,” Studies in Iconology: Special Issue: Medieval Art History Today – Critical Terms 33 (2012): 14-28.

Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert MuseumInvited contributor, Census of Gothic Sculpture in America, volume III, ed. Joan Holladay and Susan Ward (anticipated date of publication: 2012).

“‘As they learn it by sight of images’: Alabasters and Religious Devotion in Late Medieval England,” in Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum, ed. Paul Williamson and Fergus Cannan (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, October 2010) [Exhibition on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art February 26 - June 26 2011.]

"Likeness and Loyalty: Portraiture in the Calendar Scenes of the Très Riches Heures," in Quaerendo 38 (2008): 142-174.

“Rethinking the Origins of Portraiture,” Gesta 46:2 (2007): 135-158.

set in stone

"Sculpting Identity," in Set in Stone: The Face in Medieval Art, ed. Charles T. Little (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006), 120-123. (Exhibition catalogue published in conjunction with the exhibition "Set in Stone: The Face in Medieval Art," on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 26 September 2006 through 18 February 2007.)

“Courtly Splendor, Urban Markets: Some Recent Exhibition Catalogues” [Review of Art from the Court of Burgundy, 1364-1419 (Dijon: Musée des Beaux-Arts; Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Museum of Art; Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2004), Paris 1400: Les arts sous Charles VI (Paris: Fayard, 2004), Les princes des fleurs de lis: La France et les arts en 1400(Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2004), and Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry et l’enluminure en France au Début du XVe siècle(Chantilly: Musée Condé, 2004)],” Speculum 81:3 (2006), 1150-1157.

“Ivory Devotional Diptych: The Virgin in Glory and The Crucifixion, Paris, ca. 1320,” in The Bowdoin College Museum of Art Newsletter (Winter/Spring 2005): 8-9.

"From 'Curious' to Canonical: Jehan Roy de France and the Origins of the French School," The Art Bulletin 87:3 (2005): 507-532.

“Portraits and Counterfeits: Villard de Honnecourt and Thirteenth-Century Theories of Representation,” in Excavating the Medieval Image: Manuscripts, Artists, Audiences – Essays in Honor of Sandra Hindman, Nina A. Rowe and David Areford, eds. (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate Press, 2004), 13-35.

“From an ‘Art de Memoire’ to the Art of Portraiture: Printed Effigy Books of the Sixteenth Century,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 33:3 (2002): 687-723.

Engin and artifice: Describing Creative Agency at the Court of France, c. 1400,” Gesta 41:2 (2002): 51-67.

“Insurgent Voices: Illuminated Versions of Christine de Pizan’s Livre du duc des vrais amans” (co-authored with Sandra Hindman), in The City of Scholars: New Approaches to Christine de Pizan, Zimmermann and De Rentiis editors, (New York and Berlin: De Gruyter, 1994), 221-231.

Exhibitions Curated at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

"Displaying Devotion," February 17, 2011 - June 19, 2011.
"Between the Lines: Trends in Early Modern Printmaking," May 1, 2011 - June 1, 2008.
"From "Saint Makers" to Artists: Prints and Printmakers in Northern Renaissance," March 4, 2003 - April 13, 2003.

Research Interests

  • Art at the Late Medieval Courts of Northern Europe.
  • History of Portraiture in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe.
  • The illustration of secular manuscripts in the later Middle Ages and early Renaissance.
  • Artistic interactions between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Teaching Appointments

  • Bowdoin College, 2002-present.
  • University of Denver, 1999-2002.
  • Skidmore College, 1998-1999

Major Awards and Honors

  • Scholar in Residence, Niederländisches Forum, Freie Universität Berlin, June 2010.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation “CONNECT” Grant, Summer 2010.
  • J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art and the Humanities, Summer 1999 to Summer 2000.
  • Northwestern University Dissertation Year Grant, Fall 1997 to Spring 1998.
  • Chateaubriand Fellowship, French Cultural Services, Embassy of France, Fall 1995 to Summer 1996.
  • Belgian-American Educational Foundation Graduate Fellowship (declined full fellowship; awarded Honorary Fellow status), Fall 1995 to Summer 1996.