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  • Jennifer Van Horn, Assistant Professor of Art History and History in the History Department at the University of Delaware

    Assistant Professor of Art History and History
    University of Delaware
    317 Old College
    Newark, DE 19716


    Professor Jennifer Van Horn specializes in the fields of American art and material culture. Her first book, The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century British America ranges from engraved city views to portraits to dressing furniture to explore how elite American consumers assembled objects to form a new civil society on the margins of the British Empire. She has also written about early American prostheses (wooden legs and dentures) and women’s embroidery in the new American republic. Her courses encompass eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth-century decorative arts, material culture theory and methodology, museum studies, and the production of historical memory.

    Jennifer is spending 2018-2019 at the National Gallery of Art as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) to work on her second book project tentatively titled Resisting the Art of Enslavement: Slavery and Portraiture in American Art, 1720-1890.

    In 2015-2016 Jennifer was awarded a Postdoctoral fellow at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum to work on this project. The book examines the role enslaved African Americans played as producers and viewers of portraits in the plantation South, and uncovers the importance portraiture held for newly freed African Americans who engaged in acts of iconoclasm and patronage.

    A graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture (M.A.), and the University of Delaware (Honors B.A. History and Art History), Jennifer received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.  She has published articles in American ArtEarly American Studies, and Winterthur Portfolio, and worked as an assistant curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Before joining the University of Delaware, she taught at George Mason University and held a Postdoctoral fellowship at Winterthur Museum.



    • The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century British America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2017. Finalist, 2018 George Washington Prize. Honorable Mention, 2018 Louis Gottschalk Prize, American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. Recipient of a College Art Association Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant.

    Articles and Book Chapters

    • “‘The Dark Iconoclast’: Slaves’ Artistic Resistance in the Civil War South,” The Art Bulletin 99:4 (December 2017): 129-63.
    • “Prince Demah and the Profession of Portrait Painting,” Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture, National Portrait Gallery volume, (anticipated fall 2018).
    • “‘Painting’ Faces and ‘Dressing’ Tables: Concealment in Early Southern Dressing Furniture,” Faces and Places: The Life of Things in Early America. Ed., George Boudreau and Margaretta Lovell. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, (anticipated fall 2018).
    • "Regional Tastes in a Transatlantic Market: Joseph Blackburn in New England and Bermuda," New England/New Spain: Portraiture in the Colonial Americas, 1492-1850. Ed., Donna Pierce. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press for the Mayer Center for Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art at the Denver Art Museum, 2016.
    • “George Washington’s Dentures: Disability, Deception, and the Republican Body,” Early American Studies 14:1 (Winter 2016): 2-47.
    • “The Mask of Civility: Portraits of Colonial Women and the Transatlantic Masquerade,” American Art 23: 3 (Fall 2009): 8-35.
    • “Samplers, Gentility, and the Middling Sort,” Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture 40:4 (Winter 2005): 219-48.





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  • Department of History
  • 46 W. Delaware Avenue
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2371