Craig Harbison

Craig Harbison attended Oberlin College and Princeton University where he received his PhD. in 1972. Craig taught at the University of California, Davis; Oberlin College; and since 1974, at the University of Massachusetts.  In the spring of 1998 Craig was awarded a College of Humanities and Fine Arts Outstanding Teacher Award.  He was active professionally by chairing sessions at the College Art Association Annual Meeting, lecturing at various colleges and universities, reviewing manuscripts for publishers and periodicals, serving as an officer or advisor for various professional organizations (such as the Historians of Netherlandish Art) and faculty seminars.  He also enjoyed serving as a committee member for several PhD. dissertations at other universities.

Craig Harbison was trained (by Erwin Panofsky, Wolfgang Stechow, and Robert A. Koch) in classic iconographic methodology.  Today he would probably consider himself above all a social historian of art.  His current research interests and projects include:  a study of the social origins and functions of sixteenth century Flemish still life painting (Pieter Aertsen); the history of the iconographic method as it has been applied to early Netherlandish art; sixteen century northern artists in Italy; and sexuality and gender issues in northern Renaissance art. He is also engaged in researching and writing a major new survey (textbook) for the northern Renaissance.

Selected Publications

Jan Van Eyck: The Play of Realism  
  • The Last Judgment in Sixteenth Century Northern Europe, A Study in the Relation between Art and the Reformation (Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts, First Series), New York, 1976.
  • "Some Artistic Anticipations of Theological Thought," Art Quarterly, n.s. 2 (1979), pp. 67-89.
  • "Lucas van Leyden, the Magdalen and the Problem of Secularization in Early Sixteenth Century Northern Art," Oud-Holland 93 (1984), pp. 117-129.
  • "Realism and Symbolism in Early Flemish Painting," Art Bulletin 66 (1984), pp. 588602.
  • "Visions and Meditations in Early Flemish Painting," Simiolus 15 (1985), pp. 87-118.
  • "Sexuality and Social Standing in Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Double Portrait, " Renaissance Quarterly 43 (1990), pp. 249-291.
  • Jan van Eyck, The Play of Realism, London: Reaktion Books, 1991 (paperback edition with corrections, 1995).
  • "Meaning in Venetian Renaissance art: the issues of artistic ingenuity and oral tradition," Art History 15 (1992), pp. 19-37.
  • "Miracles Happen: Image and Experience in Jan van Eyck's Madonna in a Church," in Brendan Cassidy, ea., Iconography at the Crossroads, Princeton, 1993, pp. 157169.
  • "The Sexuality of Christ in the Early Sixteenth Century in Germany," in A Tribute to Robert A. Koch: Studies in the Northern Renaissance, Princeton, 1994, pp. 69-81.
  • The Mirror of the Artist: Northern Renaissance Art in its Historical Context, New York: Abrams, 1995.

Craig Harbison
Cutting cake at the celebration
for his receipt of the
Outstanding Teacher Award

Professor Emeritus

of Art History


Contact Information
Craig Harbison
Art History Program
Department of Art, Architecture & Art History
Bartlett Hall, UMass
130 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 0l003-9269

Phone: 413-545-3595


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