Elizabeth Honig

Job title: 
European Art, 1400-1700

Elizabeth Alice Honig works on the art, literature, and visual cultures of Early Modern Europe. Her interests span the pictorial arts, the built environment, and civic ritual; the art market and practices of collecting; the mobility of objects and imagery; copying and originality; notions of visuality in literary texts; gender and representation; and historical techniques of painting. She also works within the Digital Humanities and has integrated mapping, network analysis, and digital text analysis into her teaching.

Honig’s first book, Painting and the Market, concerned the ways in which painting responded to changing notions of value, exchange, and display in the commercial city of Antwerp from about 1550-1625. Her recent Jan Brueghel and the Senses of Scale focuses on a single artist and how he proposed an aesthetic in the years around 1600 that countered that of his colleagues Rubens and Caravaggio in operating at a very small representational scale that demanded a closer visual engagement and mobilized the sense of touch as well as sight. She is currently writing a book about Pieter Bruegel, Erasmus, and ideas of what it meant to be human in early 16th-century Northern Europe. Another current project concerns the discourse of dwelling in Elizabethan wall painting, literature about the homeless, and the writings of prisoners of conscience. She is also preparing the Oxford Online annotated bibliography on Rubens, a daunting task.

Her graduate students work on a diverse range of topics in the arts of The Netherlands, England, Spain, Germany, and the New World; they study painting, architecture, pageantry, costume, and urban planning; violence, propaganda, devotion, repetition, identity, and failure. They travel and publish a lot, and she alternately encourages, bullies, and feeds them. Her innumerable undergraduate research assistants help her to construct and maintain the websites janbrueghel.net and pieterbruegel.net, soon to be joined by brueghelfamily.net. For these and other projects she has received funding most recently from the NSF, IMAF, the Mellon Foundation, CITRIS, the Townsend Center, and the Berkeley Digital Humanities program.

For the next two Fall semesters, Honig will be in Utrecht as Netherlands Visiting Professor from the University of California.

Select publications



“Saint Luke’s Diligence” in Understanding Art in Antwerp, ed. Bart Ramakers. Leuven: Peters, 2011, 69-74.

“The Place of Style and the Material of Culture” in Renaissance Theory, ed. James Elkins & Robert Williams. New York/London: Routledge, 2008, 410-22.

“Art, Honor and Excellence in Early Modern Europe” in Beyond Price: Value in Culture, Economics, and the Arts, ed. M. Hutter & D. Throsby. Cambridge, 2008, 89-105.

“Paradise Regained: Rubens, Jan Brueghel, and the Sociability of Visual Thought” in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, 2005

“The Gentle Art of Being Artistic” Women’s Art Journal, Winter 2001.

“Desire and Domestic Economy” Art Bulletin LXXXIII/2 (June 2001), 294-315.