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As part of your studies you may work as a docent or help with an exhibit at the College’s Wellin Museum of Art, an acclaimed facility. With guidance from your professors, you may secure an internship at the nearby Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, home to an important American art collection, or in a great art city such as New York or Boston.

About the Major

Art history at Hamilton focuses on understanding the rich cultural and historical contexts in which art is created and experienced. Coursework covers a range of periods, cultures and critical approaches. The department’s links to Hamilton programs in history and culture will encourage students to make connections to other fields of critical inquiry.

Hamilton is just one of those places that is really special. Everyone there is just so motivated and into their own thing, and they get you excited about it as well.

Teddy Altman ’15 — art history major

Students may choose to explore not only the European-American tradition, but Chinese and Japanese art and the arts of the Islamic and Buddhist traditions. Other courses, such as museum studies, women in art and contemporary critical theory, are organized around a particular theme.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Account Manager, Sotheby’s
  • Vice President and Real Estate Counsel, Lehman Brothers
  • Cataloguer, Lang Antiques
  • President, McGraw-Hill Professional
  • Sales Manager, NBC News
  • Senior Vice President, William Doyle Galleries
  • Tour Coordinator, Academic Arrangements Abroad
  • Presidential Innovation Fellow, The White House
  • President, Nye & Co. Auctioneers

Contact Information


Art History Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4380 315-859-4464 arthistory@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Differencing the Visible: Perspectives on African-American Art and the Black Historical Experience 145F


Traces the cultural achievements and struggles of African-American artists, both men and women, to make a people and a world they had known visible, and to be true to those who were misrepresented or erased entirely from the visibility of American history. The goals of the course are to foster an historical memory, intuitive empathy, and responsive understanding of the works of African-American artists, in the context of the societal and historical circumstances in which they were produced. Proseminar.

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Copies, Forgeries, and Fakes 155F


The class examines our obsession with originality by focusing upon what may be understood as its opposite: the copy. Copies play a pivotal part in the history of art, from Roman copies of Greek sculptures to the role of copying in artists’ training to reproductive art forms such as prints and photographs that are, in effect, “copies.” Closely related to the concept of the copy are forgeries and fakes, which present themselves as “originals” yet destabilize the very foundations of the term. Ultimately, the class addresses how we establish notions of artistic value by looking at the overlooked. Proseminar.

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The Portrait from Pharaoh to Facebook 230S


The course is both a chronological study of portraiture and an exploration of the complex strategies by which individuals and groups have deployed visual forms to construct representations of their identities. We will explore the myriad purposes to which such representations have been put, including tomb effigies and commemoration, state-certified identification, mug shots, and the digital construction of self. Ultimately, we will try to better understand the power and persistence of the portrait genre, from self-portraits to wax seals, from selfies to statues, and from pharaoh to Facebook.

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The World of Spanish Art: From the Alhambra to Guernica 257


Intensive study of the artistic production of Spain, as reflected in the most significant expressions of architecture, painting and sculpture, along with the cultural and historical context in which these works were created. To be included, among others: Moorish, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassic and Modernist styles (in architecture); El Greco, Velázquez, Zurbarán, Ribera, Murillo, Goya, Sorolla, Picasso and Dalí (in painting); and Vasco de la Zarza, Bigarny, Diego de Siloé, Juni, Montanás, Cano, Mena, Berruguete (in sculpture).

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Global Renaissance 283S


Whose Renaissance? An introduction to visual and material cultures in the early era of global expansion and colonization (1450-1600). The course focuses on European relations with Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In addition to painting, sculpture, and architecture, it includes ceramics, textiles, and maps. A series of transcultural case studies will interrogate approaches to global networks of exchange, confrontation, and conflict. Themes include: immigration, commerce, religion, and science; also definitions of center/periphery, native/foreign, and self/other. Writing-intensive.

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The Gothic Cathedral: Architecture, Art, and Christian Practice in Europe, c. 1140-1300 371S


Gothic cathedrals are among the most striking buildings in cities across Europe. We will consider these cathedrals in their political, social, economic, and religious contexts, including their beginnings within the political setting of Capetian France; their spread through Europe; how they were funded and constructed; the political functions they had; how people used and thought about them; what types of objects filled them; and what cathedrals and the artworks that decorate(d) them tell us about how later medieval Christians thought about themselves and about religious outsiders.

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