27 Oct 2011 All day postponed


We are sorry to announce that the lectures and the symposium have to be postponed due to Professor Brettell being taken ill. We will announce the new dates on this website in due course.

Humanitas Visiting Professor in the History of Art 2011

The Humanitas Chair in the History of Art has been made possible by the generous support of J E Safra.

Professor Richard Brettell

Richard Brettell (Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair in the Interdisciplinary Program in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas) is one of the foremost authorities on Impressionism. As the inaugural Humanitas Visiting Professor in the History of Art at the University of Cambridge, he will give a series of public lectures on Is there anything left to say about Impressionism? and also participate in a symposium on Friday 28 October 2011.

Lecture 1
Impressionism and Anarcho-Syndicalism: The Suppressed Politics of an Apolitical Movement

Impressionist paintings have generally been read as a celebration of modern, urban, bourgeois life and, in the cases of Manet and Degas, its anxieties. Very little attention has been paid to the political implications of the organizing “syndicate” agreement signed by the artists in 1873-4 and their anarcho-syndicalist origins. The lecture will consider that document in some detail and will also interpret the composition and installations of the eight Impressionist exhibitions in political terms.

Further lectures in the series are:


The lectures are free and open to all, no registration required.

About Richard Brettell

Richard Brettell is among the foremost authorities in the world on Impressionism and French Painting of the period 1830-1930. With three degrees from Yale University, he has taught at the University of Texas, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, Yale University, and Harvard University and is currently Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair in the Interdisciplinary Program in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also an international museum consultant with projects in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

More than a decade ago, he established CISM (Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums) at UTD with a grant from the Elizabeth and Felix Rohatyn Foundation. He is director of this centre and the instigator of two important of its projects: The Yale Series in the History and Theory of Art Museums (an open-ended series of books commissioned and edited by Dr Brettell with a grant of $1,000,000.00 from the Hamon Foundation) and the Curatorial Research Project (a $950,000.00 fund to enhance curatorial research in Texas art museums and to fund teaching projects and graduate museum research, funding provided by the Hamon Foundation and the State of Texas). Dr Brettell has also been appointed the Director of the Paul Gauguin Catalogue Raisonné for the Wildenstein Institute in Paris and was recently named Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for the work he accomplished within FRAME (French Regional/American Museum Exchange).

His most recent books are Pissarro’s People, Impression: Painting Quickly in France, and the Oxford History of Modern Art, as well as scholarly exhibition catalogues devoted to Impressionist landscape, Gauguin, Pissarro, Degas, and Monet. His earlier exhibitions include A Day in the Country, Impressionism and the French Landscape, for which he was awarded a chevalier in the order of “Arts et Lettres” by the French Government, The Art of Paul Gauguin, and The Impressionist in the City: Pissarro’s Urban Series. Dr Brettell was the guest curator for Impression: Painting Quickly in France, 1860-1900 for the National Gallery, London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts (2000-2001).


About the Professorships

Humanitas is a series of Visiting Professorships at Oxford and Cambridge intended to bring leading practitioners and scholars to both universities to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities. Created by Lord Weidenfeld, the Programme is managed and funded by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue with the support of a series of generous benefactors, and co-ordinated in Cambridge by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). Humanitas Visiting Professors are held by distinguished academics and leading practitioners who have contributed to interdisciplinary research and innovation in a broad range of contemporary disciplines in the arts, social sciences and humanities. Covering areas of urgent or enduring interest in today's society as well as the performing arts, Humanitas Visiting Professors will present their pioneering work through a series of lectures or performances open to University audiences and the wider public.



Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk