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Brown, Jonathan M.

    Image Credit: Princeton Alumni Weekly

    Full Name: Brown, Jonathan M.

    Other Names:

    • Jonathan Brown

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1939

    Place Born: Springfield, Hampden, MA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Spanish (culture or style)

    Career(s): educators


    Scholar of Spanish art and Caroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Fine Arts, New York University, (professor from 1973-). Brown was the son of son of Leonard M. Brown and Jeanette Levy Brown (Brown). While an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, Brown spent a year in Madrid where he became fascinated with the painter Velázquez. A chance reading of the 1948 Velázquez book by the art philosopher Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) lead to a life-long interest in the painter and Spanish art. He graduated from Dartmouth with an A. B. in 1960. He continued at Princeton for an M. F. A (Princeton’s master’s degree in art history) and his Ph.D., conferred in 1964. His dissertation, written under David Robbins Coffin and secondarily Jack Martin was on Sevillian Baroque painting. He began teaching art history at Princeton University the following year. He married Sandra Backer in 1966. He published his Italy and Spain, 1600-1750 in 1970. Brown received the A. Kingsley Porter Prize of the College Art Association of America in 1971 and was promoted to associate professor at Princeton. He joined the faculty of New York University in 1973 as director of the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU’s graduate school in art history. A monograph on Francisco de Zurbaran appeared in 1974. He rose to professor in 1977. The following year he stepped down from the directorship of the Institute, issued his Images and Ideas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Painting and became a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a Guggenheim fellow in 1980, publishing his A Palace for a King: The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip IV. In 1981 Brown taught as Slade Professor of Fine Arts at Oxford University, 1981-1982. In 1984 Brown was named the first Caroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Arts. A major monograph on Velazquez was published by Brown in 1986. Brown was the Andrew W. Mellon lecturer in fine arts for the National Gallery of Art, Washgington, D. C., for 1994. Kings and Connoisseurs: Collecting Art in 17th Century Europe, the published lectures, were issued the following year. Brown wrote a new volume in the (Yale) Pelican History of Art series on Spanish painting, in 1998. Together with Susan Grace Galassi, Brown organized the show “Goya’s Last Works” for the Frick Collection in New York in 2006. Brown was responsible for continuing the study of Spanish art as a topic in the United States, a tradition begun under Chandler R. Post and Walter W. S. Cook.

    Selected Bibliography

    [disssertation:] Painting in Seville From Pacheco to Murillo: A Study of Artistic Transition. Princeton, 1964; Francisco de Zurbarán. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1991; The Golden Age of Painting in Spain. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991; Velazquez: Painter and Courtier. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986; Kings and Connoisseurs: Collecting Art in 17th Century Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995; Painting in Spain: 1500-1700. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998; and Galassi, Susan Grace. Goya’s Last Works. New York: Frick Collection/Yale University Press, 2006.


    Rabb, Theodore K. “The Historian and the Art Historian Revisited, ” Journal of Interdisciplinary History (Winter, 1984): 647-55; “Jonathan Brown.” Institute of Fine Arts, Faculty Directory,

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Brown, Jonathan M.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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