Location: Bowdoin / Susan E. Wegner

Art History

Susan E. Wegner

Associate Professor of Art History
Chair of Art History Department

Contact Information

Art History

Visual Arts Center - 210

Teaching this semester

ARTH 1300/LAS 1300. Introduction to the Arts of Ancient Mexico and Peru

A chronological survey of the arts created by major cultures of ancient Mexico and Peru. Mesoamerican cultures studied include the Olmec, Teotihuacan, the Maya, and the Aztec up through the arrival of the Europeans. South American cultures such as Chavin, Naca, and Inca are examined. Painting, sculpture, and architecture are considered in the context of religion and society. Readings in translation include Mayan myth and chronicles of the conquest.

ARTH 2230. The Arts of Venice

Venice is distinctive among Italian cities for its political structures, its geographical location, and its artistic production. This overview of Venetian art and architecture considers Venice’s relationships to Byzantium and the Turkish east; Venetian colorism in dialogue with Tuscan-Roman disegno; and the role of women as artists, as patrons, and as subjects of art. Includes art by the Bellini family, Giorgione, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Canaletto, and Rosalba Carriera, and the architecture of Palladio.

Teaching next semester

ARTH 1100. Introduction to Art History

An introduction to the study of art history. Provides a chronological overview of art primarily from Western and East Asian traditions. Considers the historical context of art and its production, the role of the arts in society, problems of stylistic tradition and innovation, and points of contact and exchange between artistic traditions. Equivalent of Art History 101 as a major or minor requirement.

ARTH 2120. Medieval Art

A survey of Medieval art in cultural context. Focuses on religious and secular monuments produced in Western Europe and Byzantium from the early Christian period to the dawn of the Renaissance. Works studied range from precious objects (manuscripts, ivories, metalwork) to monumental architecture. Issues considered include the theological differenes between East and West, the political relationship between church and state, the aesthetic alternatives of symbolism and naturalism, and the ongoing debate surrounding the use of material objects for spiritual ends.

ARTH 3240. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo: Science and Art through Drawing

Both Leonardo and Michelangelo produced hundreds of drawings in the service of their imaginative processes in creating great architecture, sculpture and painting. In addition, both studied the human body through anatomical drawings, while Leonardo expanded his investigations to the bodies of animals, the movement of water, the flight of birds and countless other natural phenomena. Investigating the theory of disegno (drawing and composing) as a divinely granted power, this class will read biographies, letters and notebooks in translation as well as scholarly literature on the Sistine Chapel frescoes, the Last Supper and other monuments now known to us only through drawings. The course will make use of works from the collections of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Opportunities for hands-on learning of drawing techniques: chalk, pen and ink, wash, metal point will support our investigations of these artists' accomplishments.



  • Bryn Mawr, Ph.D. 
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.A. 

  • Italian 16th and 17th c. Art and Science
  • Italian Drawings
  • 19th c. American Arts (especially Renaissance revivals and natural history images)
  • Arts in Peru
Peruvian, Early Nazca (Nazca Z) ca. 100-300 AD
 Bridge-spout Vessel   buff clay with polychrome slip
8 x 7 inches Museum Purchase, Florence C. Quinby Fund, in memory of Henry Cole Quinby, Honorary Degree, 1916. 
Bowdoin College Museum of Art 1969.86
peruivian pot front peruivian pot back

Teaching Appointments

Bowdoin College, 1980-present
Visiting Assistant Professor in Department of History of Art, University of Michigan-University of Wisconsin Program in Florence, Winter-Spring 1985

Other Appointments

Contributing Faculty Member, Latin American Studies Program, Bowdoin College
Steering Committee Member, Mediterranean Studies Mellon Initiative, Bowdoin College, 2013-present
Director, Women's Studies Program, Bowdoin College, 1998-2000

“Artemisia Gentileschi’s Aurora: Astronomy, Myth, and Mourning in Galileo’s Florence”in Vanishing Boundaries: Scientific Knowledge and Art Production in the Early Modern Era, 165-190.Eds. A. Victor Coonin and Lilian H. Zirpolo (The WAPACC Organization, Ramsey, New Jersey, 2015). 

Co-curator of Exhibition “Envisioning Extinction: Art as Witness and Conscience.  The Wild North American Passenger Pigeon ” with Richard Lindemann, Bowdoin College Special Collections, Bowdoin College Library, September 1, 2014—January 15, 2015.

Co-curator of “Revealing Mediterranean Women,” exhibition in Bowdoin College Museum of Art, October 2014—January 2015.
For the Mediterranean Studies Mellon Initiative

“Recreating the Renaissance Domestic Interior:  A Case Study of One Museum’s Approach to the Period Room” in Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior, 1400-1700 :Objects, Spaces, Domesticities, 227-243, eds. Erin J. Campbell; Stephanie R. Miller; Elizabeth Carroll Consavari, Visual Culture in Early Modernity series.  Surrey, England; Burlington VT:  Ashgate, 2013.

Entries on drawings by and formerly attributed to Francesco Vanni  in Capturing the Sublime: Five Centuries of Old Master Drawings from a Private Chicago Collection. No. 67, pp. 130-131,  279-280; No. A16,  pp. 247, 305. Ed. Suzanne Folds McCullagh. Exhibition Catalogue, Art Institute of Chicago.  New Haven and London:  Yale University Press, 2012.

“Unpacking the Renaissance Marriage Chest,” in Beauty and Duty:  The Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage (Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, 2008).

Recent Scholarly Presentations 

“The Passenger Pigeon's Impact on North American Art and Culture: 1500-2014” Invited speaker for half-day symposium, “A Century Later:  Lessons from the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), at the joint meetings of the American Ornithologists’ Union, The Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists (Société des Ornitholgistes du Canada), September 27, 2014; Estes Park, Colorado

“Close Analysis of Painted Flora and Fauna as a Method to Assess Date, Artistic Contact and Symbolic Meaning:  Case Study of Angels’ Wings in 16th Paintings and Drawings.” Invited speaker at Yale University, Yale University Gallery of Art, Scholars’ Day in conjunction with the exhibition, “Francesco Vanni:  Art in Late Renaissance Siena,” January 5-6, 2014

Invited speaker ;“Art History and Environment: assessing early modern images of and attitudes toward animals and landscape,” for session on contemplative experience and teaching environmental studies through the humanities.  Pittsburgh, PA, Meeting of the Association for Environmental Science and Studies; June 21, 2013

"Darkness at Dawn: Artemisia Gentileschi's Aurora" at the College Art Association (hereafter CAA) meetings in Chicago, February 13, 2010

"Ethical and Practical Considerations in Uniting Fragments from Disparate Italian Renaissance Domestic Interiors: Case Study at Bowdoin College Museum of Art," CAA, February 2007

"Graphic Truth and Beauty: Imagined Females in Late Sixteenth-Century Italy" Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, Pittsburgh, October 2003

"Revealing Mediterranean Women", exhibition which explored and critiqued European visions of Mediterranean women as powerful, monstrous, seductive, or exotic in art from Ancient Greece through Picasso. October 30, 2014 - January 18, 2015

"Beauty and Duty: The Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage," exhibition of Italian Renaissance painting, furniture, medals, prints and books. March 27 - July 27, 2008

Co-curator for "Visual Conversations," study multi-media and trans-national exhibition in conjunction with Art 100: Introduction of Art History, Fall 2009

"For All Saints, " including selected object labels written by students in Art History 222: Art of Renaissance Italy, November 2009 - January 2010

"The Bible and its Interpreters," November - December 2004

"From Marriage to Childbirth and Child Rearing: Durer's "Life of the Virgin" as Social Document," November - December 2003

"Figures from the Earth: Ceramic Sculpture from Ancient Mexico," Spring 2002