Margaretta Lovell

Job title: 
American Art and Architecture

Margaretta M. Lovell is a cultural historian working at the intersection of history, art/architectural history, and anthropology. She holds the Jay D. McEvoy, Jr., Chair in the History of American Art at U. C. Berkeley, and studies material culture, painting, architecture, and design in England, France, and North America from the seventeenth century to the present. She received her PhD in American Studies at Yale, and has taught as Visiting Professor in the History of Art departments at Stanford, Harvard, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Having begun her teaching career at Yale, she has also held the Dittman Chair in American Studies at the College of William and Mary, and the Ednah Root Curatorial Chair for American Art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Her scholarship is interdisciplinary and strives to mobilize visual artifacts to answer cultural, social, political, and economic questions. Her book in press on Fitz Henry Lane–an artist deeply embedded in antebellum New England–investigates the nature of his artmaking within the global perspectives of his culture’s links with China, Puerto Rico, Ireland, and California. Current research projects include an object biography of a pair of John Singleton Copley paintings involving global peregrinations of the Scottish diaspora in the wake of the defeat at Culloden, and a book on the transatlantic Gilded Age with an emphasis on artists, photographers, and architects whose work critiqued the dominant culture. She has also studied the work of painter Wayne Thiebaud, and has investigated links between popular culture and photography today. As an advocate for public art history she practices and teaches museum curatorship and object-based learning. As an advocate for public architectural history (or place-based public history) she is documenting, with cohorts of students, two residential areas in Berkeley—an historically Redlined neighborhood and a neighborhood designed by women inspired by Progressive ideas about humans in nature.

Lovell’s scholarship has been supported by fellowships, residencies, and research grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Antiquarian Society, the Huntington Library, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Terra Foundation, the University of California (Chancellor’s and President’s Fellowships), and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her major publications include Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans, and Patrons in Early America, awarded the Eldredge Prize by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the pre-1800 book prize from the College Art Association’s Organization of Historians of British Art; and A Visitable Past: Views of Venice by American Artists 1860-1915 which received the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize of the American Studies Association.

Lovell has served as Director of the American Studies Program and as Chair of U.C. Berkeley Academic Senate Committees on Educational Policy and on the Library and Scholarly Communication. As Curator and Project Manager she has arranged major international exhibitions on American and British art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Venice, the American View), the Huntington Library (Celebrating William Morris), and the National Museum of Western Art Tokyo (The John D. Rockefeller III Collection). 
Her teaching has been recognized by the College Art Association (The Distinguished Teaching Award, 2014), and by the University of California, Berkeley (The Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award, 2009). She has served on the Council of the Omohundro Institute (College of William and Mary), and currently serves on the Council of the American Antiquarian Society. Recently she has designed, authored, and administered (with Pat Berger) substantial grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for an initiative in Graduate Study in Curatorial Preparedness and Object-Based Learning at UC Berkeley.

Select publications

Painting The Inhabited Landscape: Fitz H. Lane and the Global Reach of Antebellum New England (Penn State Press, 2023).

Art in a Season of Revolution: The Artist, the Artisan, and the Patron in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

“City, River, Mountain: Wayne Thiebaud’s California,” Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 3, no. 2 (Fall 2017).

“The Forest, The Copper Mine, and the Sea: The Alchemical and Social Materiality of Greene and Greene,” in Anne Mallek and Edward R. Bosley, eds., A ‘New and Native’ Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene, cat., Huntington Library and Art Gallery, 2008.

“Food Photography and Inverted Narratives of Desire,” Exposure, v. 33, fall 2001, 21-6.

A Visitable Past: Views of Venice by American Artists 1860-1915 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

Venice: The American View, 1860-1920 (San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and Washington University Press, 1984), exh. cat.

William Morris:  The Sanford and Helen Berger Collection (Berkeley: Univ. Art Museum and Bancroft Library, 1984), exh. cat., with A. Bliss,


Ph.D., Yale University, 1980
M. Phil., Yale University, 1977
M.A., University of Delaware, 1975
B.A., Smith College, 1966



Wednesdays 2-4 in 409 Doe.