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Prown, Jules

    Full Name: Prown, Jules

    Other Names:

    • Jules David Prown

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1930

    Place Born: Freehold, Monmouth, NJ, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): American (North American)

    Career(s): educators


    Americanist art historian and Yale University art professor, 1964-1999. Prown was the son of Max M. Prown and Matilda Cassileth (Prown). He attended Lafayette College for his undergraduate where the lectures of its one-person art history department, Johannes A. Gaertner, inspired him to study art history. After receiving his A.B. in 1951, he began graduate work at Harvard University, receiving his Master’s Degree in 1953. Prown concluded a second Master’s Degree in Early American Culture from the University of Delaware in 1956. The same year he married Shirley Martin. He returned to Harvard for his Ph.D., obtaining it with a dissertation on the formative years of the American painter John Singleton Copley in 1961, and appointed the Edward R. Bacon Art Scholar. At Harvard he served as assistant to director of Fogg Art Museum between 1959 and 1961. That year he joined Yale University as an instructor, adding the responsibilities of curator of Garvan and related collections of American art at Yale Art Gallery, in 1963 (to 1968). He advanced to assistant professor at Yale in 1964 and awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for the 1964-1965 year. His catalogue raisonné on John Singleton Copley appeared in 1966. He was a Visiting lecturer at Smith College for the 1966-1967 year. He was promoted to associate professor in 1967. The following year, Prown became director of the Center for British Art at Yale, which he held until 1976. Prown wrote the first volume (up to the 20th century) of American Painting, a second volume written by Barbara E. Rose, appearing in 1969. Prown was appointed professor of the history of art in 1971. He was conferred the title of Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art, whose honoree he advised on art acquisition. Yale conferred an A.M. on him in 1971. He joined the Board of Trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1975, founding Drawings Committee of the Whitney to acquire important works on paper for the Museum. Prown stepped down from the directorship of the Center, writing The Architecture of the Yale Center for British Art, 1977, for the inauguration of the Louis I. Kahn building. At Yale, Prown was instrumental in 1990 in forming a committee recommending that graduate teaching assistants be released from some of their responsibilities in order to complete their degrees sooner. The committee was known as the “Prown Committee.” He retired emeritus from Yale in 1999. His Art as Evidence: Writings on Art and Material Culture, appeared in 2002.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] The English Career of John Singleton Copley, R. A. Harvard University, 1961.; John Singleton Copley. 2 vols. Washington, DC: 1966. “The Art Historian and the Computer: An Analysis of Copy’s Patronage, 1753-1774.” Smithsonian Journal of History I (1966): 17-30; and Rose, Barbara. American Painting. 2 vols. [Geneva] Skira 1969; The Architecture of the Yale Center for British Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1977; Art as Evidence: Writings on Art and Material Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001; and Haltman, Kenneth. American Artifacts: Essays in Material Culture. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2000.


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 70 cited, p. 38 n. 79; “Putting a Limit On How Long Graduates Teach; Yale.” New York Times July 22, 1990, p. 34; Prown, Jules David. [comments from the symposium dinner, October 20, 1995] Yale Journal of Criticism 11 no. 1 (1998): 9-10; Roach, Catherine. Preliminary Guide to the Jules Prown Papers. Manuscript Group 1749. Yale University Manuscripts and Archives,


    "Prown, Jules." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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