Faculty Profile

Michael Yonan
Professor of Art History
Graduate Advisor
Alan Templeton Endowed Chair in the History of European Art, 1600–1830
Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century European Art, Decorative Arts, Material Culture
Faculty Associate, Graduate Program in German

Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Appointed 2020, Program in Art History




Michael Yonan is a scholar of early modern European art, with special interest in the arts of eighteenth-century Austria, Germany, and Scandinavia.  He is also interested broadly in the decorative arts, rococo design, material culture theory, and art historical methodology and historiography.  He has received fellowships from the Getty Research Institute, the Mellon Foundation, the Kress Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala.  In 2019 he was visiting guest professor at the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University, Sweden.  Recently he participated in the research project Powerful Presences: The Sculptural Portrait, organized by the University of Copenhagen and Thorvaldsens Museum, Denmark.  For Bloomsbury Academic Press he edits the book series The Material Culture of Art and Design.  




Arts of the Rococo examines the highly ornamental arts of the rococo, arts between 1710 and 1770, including painting, sculpture, architecture, interior design, furniture, metalwork, and ceramics. An art of sensual surfaces, it was also an art that generated new relationships between art and its publics.  The course concentrates on developments in France and Germany, but does so in dialogue with art from China, India, the Middle East, and the Americas, and critically examines the place of decoration in society. 

Art in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1850 explores European art from approximately 1750 to 1850, focusing on art made in conjunction with major social transformations that have given this era the name “the Age of Revolutions.”  Beginning with art made during the French Revolution in 1789, it then broadens to explore art from Italy, Britain, Spain, and Germany.  In addition to its primary theme of art and politics, the course also includes discussions of the Grand Tour, European images of people of color, the birth of the modern art museum. 

Impressionism and Post-Impressionism focuses on art from two movements that have produced some of the most famous paintings ever made.  Artists discussed include Manet, Monet, Morisot, Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Van Gogh, and Gauguin.  A special component of our study will be the analysis of gender as it relates to the depiction of modern life, as well as of artistic techniques, subject matter, and class concerns.  This course seeks to return to Impressionism something of its original edginess, to place it in the social and material contexts of nineteenth-century Europe and to understand how it became associated with modernity. 




Ornament and Ornamentation Art history has struggled with ornament ever since Modernism promoted a distrust of it that has contributed to the perception that it is frivolous and unnecessary.  Yet for many cultures, ornamentation is a fundamental component of art.  The seminar’s goal will be to understand ornament as a bearer of meaning and to develop practical frameworks for its interpretation, done largely through reading classic texts on the subject (Loos, Gombrich, Grabar) and following them with case studies of specific moments in ornament’s history.  The seminar also scrutinizes the apparent boundaries between the decorative and “high” arts, theories of art and craft, and notions of figuration and abstraction.

Global Objects This seminar considers the phenomenon of objects on the move in the early modern world, defined as approximately 1550 to 1850.  Recent scholarship has shown that the globalized world of which we are a part is not new.  Human beings have engaged with each other across long distances via trade and other forms of communication since prehistory.  Art historians have devoted much attention to the ways in which cross-cultural exchange influenced the arts.  We will read a selection of recent scholarship on these subjects, as well as theorize the concepts of “mobility” and “cultural hybridity” more broadly.

Methods of Art History is a close study of selected recent developments in interpretive methodology used by art historians and other analysts of visual culture and the place of those developments within art history’s history and in the larger field of social, cultural and historical analysis. Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.




Books, as author:

Messerschmidt’s Character Heads: Maddening Sculpture and the Writing of Art History. London: Routledge, 2018.  

Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2011.

Books, as editor:

Eighteenth-Century Art Worlds: Global and Local Geographies of Art. Co-edited with Stacey Sloboda. New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019.   

The Cultural Aesthetics of Eighteenth-Century Porcelain. Co-editor with Alden Cavanaugh. Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2010.

Journal Articles:

“Portrait Exchange Between Stockholm and Vienna and the Formation of Gustav III’s Round Salon at Gripsholm Castle.” Konsthistorisk Tidskrift 92, No. 3 (2023): 177–193.

“The Judgment of Porcelain: Matter, Commerce, and the Figural Ideal.” The French Porcelain Society Journal 9 (2022), 23–45.

“The Materiality of Porcelain and the Interpretation of Ceramic Art.”  Journal of the Walters Art Museum 75 (2021). 

“Technical Art History and the Art Historical Thing.”  Materia: Journal of Technical Art History, 1:1 (Spring 2021): 60–66.

“Martin van Meytens’s Portrait of Johann Michael von Grosser (c. 1700–1784): The Business of Nobility.” Art Bulletin of Nationalmuseum Stockholm 26:1 (2019 [2020]): 91-98.

“Materiality as Periphery.” Visual Resources 35, nos. 3–4 (September–December 2019): 200–216.

“Cats: The Soft Underbelly of the Enlightenment.” Co-authored with Amy Freund. Journal18 Issue 7 Animals (Spring 2019) (http://www.journal18.org/3778).

“Mary Sheriff and ASECS.” Co-authored with Jennifer Germann. Eighteenth-Century Studies 52.2 (Winter 2019): 151–154.

“Material Fictions: A Dialogue as Introduction.” Co-authored with Eugenia Zuroski. Eighteenth-Century Fiction 31.1 (Fall 2018): 1–18. 

“Materializing Empire in an Eighteenth-Century Lace Gown.” Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture 14.3 (2016): 2–18. 

“Material Transformations: Thinking about Objects and Spaces at the Wieskirche.” Journal of Art Historiography 9 (9/MY1) (December 2013): 1–13.   

“The Wieskirche: Movement, Perception, and Salvation in the Bavarian Rococo.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 41 (2012): 1–25. 

“Toward a Fusion of Art History and Material Culture Studies.” West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture 18.2 (Fall–Winter 2011): 232–248.

“Portable Dynasties: Imperial Gift-Giving at the Court of Vienna in the Eighteenth Century.” The Court Historian 14.2 (December 2009): 177–188. 

“Ornament’s Invitation: The Rococo of Vienna’s Gardekirche.” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 50.4 (Winter 2009): 285–308.

“The Man Behind the Mask? Looking at Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 42.3 (Spring 2009): 431–451.  

“Pompeo Batoni Between Rome and Vienna.” Source: Notes in the History of Art 26.2 (Winter 2007): 32­–37.

“Veneers of Authority: Chinese Lacquers in Maria Theresa’s Vienna.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 37.4 (Summer 2004): 652–672. 

“Modesty and Monarchy: Rethinking Empress Maria Theresa at Schönbrunn.” Austrian History Yearbook 35 (2004): 25–47.

Book Chapters:

“Gender and Sexuality: The Desire of Decor.”  In Interiors in the Age of Enlightenment: A Cultural History, ed. Stacey Sloboda (London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2024), 150–172.

“Från material till materialisering: Att beskriva materialiteten hos en Sèvrestekanna från 1700-talet.” In Materialitet, ed. Elin Manker and Mårten Snickare. Teoretiska tillämpningar i konstvetenskap 4. (Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, 2023), 21–43. 

“Porcelain as Sculpture: Medium, Materiality, and the Categories of Eighteenth-Century Collecting.”  In Sculpture Collections in Europe and the United States, 1500–1930: Variety and Ambiguity. Ed. Inge Reist and Malcolm Baker (Leiden: Brill, 2021), 174–193.

“Knowing the World through Rococo Ornamental Prints.” In Organic Supplements: Bodies and Things of the Natural World, 1580–1790, ed. Miriam Jacobson and Julie Park. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2020), 177–198.

“Picturing Empress Maria Theresa in Eighteenth-Century Denmark, Sweden, and Russia.” In Die Repräsentation Maria Theresias. Herrschaft und Bildpolitik im Zeitalter der Aufklärung, ed. Werner Telesko, Sandra Hertel, and Stefanie Linsboth (Vienna: Böhlau, 2020), 415–424. 

“Ornamentation.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Baroque, ed. John D. Lyons (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 409–426. 

“The African Geographies of Angelo Soliman.” In Eighteenth-Century Art Worlds: Global and Local Geographies of Art, ed. Stacey Sloboda and Michael Yonan (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019), 209–225.

“Mapping Global Eighteenth-Century Art Worlds.” Co-authored with Stacey Sloboda. In Eighteenth-Century Art Worlds: Global and Local Geographies of Art, ed. Stacey Sloboda and Michael Yonan (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019), 1–18.  

“Interdisciplinary Material Culture Studies and the Problem of Habsburg-Lorraine Representation.” In Die Repräsentation der Habsburg-Lothringischen Dynastie in Musik, visuellen Medien und Architektur, ca. 1618­–1918/Representing the Habsburg-Lorraine Dynasty in Music, Visual Media and Architecture, ca. 1618–1918, ed. Werner Telesko (Vienna: Böhlau, 2017): 21–37.

“Die Hinterlassenschaft Maria Annas und das Konzept einer fürstlichen Porträtsammlung.” In Höfische Porträtkultur: Die Hinterlassenschaft Erzherzogin Maria Annas (1738–1789), ed. Eva Kernbauer and Aneta Zahradnik (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2016): 25–36. 

“The Uncomfortable Frenchness of the German Rococo.” In Rococo Echo: Art, Theory, and Historiography from Cochin to Coppola, ed. Melissa Hyde and Katie Scott.  Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2014), 33­–51. 

“Messerschmidt, the Hogarth of Sculpture.” In Seeing Satire in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Elizabeth C. Mansfield and Kelly Malone (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2013), 209–226.

“Kunsthistorisches Museum / Belvedere, Vienna: Dynasticism and the Function of Art.” In The First Modern Museums of Art: The Birth of an Institution in Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. Carole Paul (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2012), 167–189.

“Igneous Architecture: Porcelain, Natural Philosophy, and the Rococo cabinet chinois.” In The Cultural Aesthetics of Eighteenth-Century Porcelain, ed. Alden Cavanaugh and Michael Yonan (Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2010), 65–85.

Introduction, co-authored with Alden Cavanaugh. In The Cultural Aesthetics of Eighteenth-Century Porcelain, ed. Alden Cavanaugh and Michael Yonan (Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2010), 1–17.

“Conceptualizing the Kaiserinwitwe: Empress Maria Theresa and Her Portraits.” In Widowhood and Visual Culture in Early Modern Europe, ed. Allison Levy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), 109–125. 

Conference Proceedings:

“The Suppression of Materiality in Anglo-American Art-Historical Writing.” In The Challenge of the Object/Die Herausforderung des Objekts. Proceedings of the 33rd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art (CIHA), Nürnberg, 15–20 July 2012. Ed. Georg Ulrich Großmann and Petra Krutisch. (Nürnberg: Verlag des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 2014), I:63–66.   

“Nobility and Domestic Conviviality in the Paintings of Archduchess Maria Christine.” Amitié, Convivialité, Hospitalité/Friendship, Conviviality, Hospitality. Proceedings of the 2008 ISECS International Seminar for Junior Eighteenth-Century Scholars, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic. Theatrum Historiae 4 (2009): 135–154. 

Digital Publications:

“Ornamentation.”  In The Oxford Handbook of the Baroque, ed. John D. Lyons. Oxford Handbooks Online, http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com, 2018.

“Eighteenth-Century Europe.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Art History, ed. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Peer-reviewed digital publication, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/.

Museum Publications:

“Facial Expressions and First Impressions.” In Face to Face: Thorvaldsen and Portraiture, ed. Jane Fejfer and Kristine Bøggild Johannsen. Ex. cat., Ansigt til ansigt: Thorvaldsen og portrættet, Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (Copenhagen: Strandberg, 2020), 132–133.   

“Dresden to Duchcov.” In Casanova: The Seduction of Europe, ed. Frederick Ilchman, Thomas Michie, C. D. Dickerson, and Esther Bell. Ex. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth/Legion of Honor, San Francisco/Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Boston: MFA Publications, 2017), 220–235. 

Ten catalogue entries in Carol C. Gillham and Carolyn H. Wood, European Drawings from the Collection of the Ackland Art Museum. (Chapel Hill: Ackland Art Museum/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001). 

Entries for drawings by Rosa Bonheur, 76–7; Lovis Corinth, 172–3; Käthe Kollwitz, 174–5; František Kupka, 104–5; Louis Lafitte, 106–7; Adolph Menzel, 176–7; Pierre Peyron, 118–19; François Quesnel, 122–3; and Egon Schiele, 180–3. 

Book and Exhibition Reviews:

Dörte Wetzler, Die Wieskirche als inszenierende Rahmung des Gegeißelten Heilands. sehepunkte, in preparation. 

Korbinian Birnbacher, ed. Die letzte Grand Tour: Die Italienreise der Patres Alois Stubhahn und Albert Nagnzaun von St. Peter in Salzburg 1804–1806. The Art Newspaper 305 (October 2018): 17. 

Peter N. Miller, History & Its Objects: Antiquarianism and Material Culture since 1500. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 49, no. 1 (Summer 2018), 142–4. 

Pieter M. Judson, The Habsburg Empire: A New History. Central European History 50, no. 2 (June 2017), 245–7 and 254–5. 

Wordplay: Matthias Buchinger’s Drawings. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. CAA Reviews, posted 11 January 2017.

Matthew Rampley, The Vienna School of Art History: Empire and the Politics of Scholarship, 1847–1918. Austrian History Yearbook 46 (2015), 414–16. 

Werner Telesko, Maria Theresia: Ein europäischer Mythos. Austrian History Yearbook 45 (2014): 241–2.

Barock since 1630.  Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna. ARS (Bratislava) 46 (2013): 314–15.

Elisabeth Leube-Payer, Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer 1719–1775: Akademieprofessor und Savoyisch-Liechtensteinischer Hofmaler. Cornova 3, no. 1 (2013), 153–5.  

Wolfram Koeppe, ed. Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. CAA Reviews, posted 6 June 2013.

Karen Junod, ‘Writing the Lives of Painters’: Biography and Artistic Identity in Britain 1760–1810. Eighteenth-Century Fiction 25, no. 1 (Fall 2012): 281–3. 

Christiane Hertel, Pygmalion in Bavaria: The Sculptor Ignaz Günther and Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Art Theory. Eighteenth-Century Studies 45, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 457–9. 

Denise Amy Baxter and Meredith Martin, eds. Architectural Space in Eighteenth-Century Europe: Constructing Identities and Interiors. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 71 (December 2011), 538–9. 

Ulrich Pfarr, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt 1736–1783. Menschenbild und Selbstwahrnehmung. Austrian History Yearbook 42 (2011): 231–2. 

Nigel Aston, Art and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Europe. CAA Reviews, posted 25 February 2010.

Pompeo Batoni: Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-Century Rome.  Museum of Fine Arts Houston.  Frühneuzeit-Info 19, no. 2 (2008): 110–13.

Magnus Olausson and Eva-Lena Karlsson, eds. Alexander Roslin. CAA Reviews, posted 17 September 2008.

Thomas Ketelsen and Tilmann von Stockhausen, eds. Verzeichnis der verkauften Gemälde im deutschsprachigen Raum vor 1800Eighteenth-Century Studies 40 (Winter 2007): 347–50.  

Barocker Luxus Porzellan: Die Manufakturen Du Paquier in Wien und Carlo Ginori in Florenz. Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna. Frühneuzeit-Info 17, No. 1/2 (2006): 188–90. 

The Glory of Baroque Dresden: The State Art Collections. Mississippi Arts Pavilion, Jackson. Eighteenth-Century Studies 38 (Spring 2005): 547-52.  

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, 17361783. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna. Eighteenth-Century Studies 36 (Summer 2003): 558–63. 

Edgar Peters Bowron, ed. Bernardo Bellotto and the Capitals of Europe. CAA Reviews, posted 3 July 2002.

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