Professor Jennifer Roberts to give the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery in 2021

October 17, 2019

The National Gallery of Art has announced that the Department’s own Jennifer Roberts will be giving the A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts in the spring of 2021.

Jennifer L. Roberts is the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, and Johnson-Kulukunkdis Family Faculty Director of the Arts at the Radcliffe Instistute for Advanced Study. Focusing on British and American art from the colonial period onward, she has interests in print history, material studies, the theory and practice of making, and the history and philosophy of science. She received her A.B. in English and Art History from Stanford (1992) and her Ph.D. in History of Art from Yale (2000); she joined the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor in 2002. The recipient of numerous external research awards, she currently occupies the Slade Professorship in Fine Arts at Cambridge University.

Roberts is the author of three books spanning American art from the 1760s to the 1970s: Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History (2004), Jasper Johns/In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print (2012), and Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America (2014). She is a co-author of the textbook American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity (2007). Her current book project, titled The Matrix: Contemporary Art and the Life of Print, explores the way artists after 1960 embraced the physical and philosophical fecundity of printmaking processes. Roberts is also a founder, along with Harvard Art Museums’ Ethan Lasser, of the Minding Making Project which aims to develop rigorous methods of incorporating technical and artisanal knowledge into the historical and interpretive disciplines.


The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts were inaugurated in 1949. Endowed by a gift of the Old Dominion Foundation and the Avalon Foundation (creations of Paul Mellon and his sister, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, respectively) the lecture series was founded “to bring to the people of the United States the results of the best contemporary thought and scholarship bearing upon the subject of the Fine Arts.” The lecturers were to be, and have been, of “exceptional ability, achievement and reputation.” The National Gallery engages distinguished scholars from all disciplines to lecture on subjects in their fields, as the original gift mandated, “provided such subjects have a relationship to or bearing on the Fine Arts or are important to understanding, appreciation, or promotion of the Fine Arts.