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Adrienne Baxter Bell


Professor of Art History
Director, College Honors Program
Coordinator, Honors in the Major
Director, External Student Scholarships


Art and Art History



Adrienne Baxter Bell’s scholarship centers on American art and cultural history from the pre-colonial period to the present, with a focus on the nineteenth century. She received support throughout her graduate study in American art at Columbia University from President’s Fellowships and from Associates of American Art Dissertation Grants; she was a Sheila W. and Richard J. Schwartz Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and received The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (for original and significant study of ethical or religious values in the humanities and social sciences) from The Institute for Citizens & Scholars. Her dissertation, “George Inness: Painting Philosophy,” was nominated for the Bancroft Prize in American History at Columbia University. 

While studying at Columbia University, she curated “George Inness and the Visionary Landscape,” an exhibition that opened in Fall 2003 at the National Academy of Design and traveled to the San Diego Museum of Art. It was favorably reviewed in more than 60 publications, including The New York Times. She also published a book of the same name (now in its eighth printing) and followed it with the first book of writings by and about George Inness. She has published widely in the field of American cultural studies on such topics as embodiment in American art, the legacy of the Hudson River School in contemporary American landscape painting, and uncovering overlooked artistic relationship between American artists and the Macchiaioli. 

Dr. Bell has given numerous lectures at museums and scholarly institutions in the United States and abroad, including Cedar Grove: The Thomas Cole National Historic Site; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Clark Art Institute; the American Academy in Rome; the Museo Correr, Venice; and the Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia. Her current scholarly projects include the first comprehensive study of the American artist Charles Caryl Coleman (1840-1928), “Reflecting on Italy: The Art and Life of Charles Caryl Coleman,” and the first study of the American art critic Anne Hampton Brewster (1818-1892).

She began teaching at Marymount Manhattan College in 2006 and received the Teaching Excellence Award in 2011. She directs the College Honors Program, Honors in the Majors, and the External Student Scholarships program. Under her guidance, six students have received Boren Scholarships and seven students have received Fulbright Teaching Assistantships. She also mentors students for Honors in the Art History major. She founded and leads the Art and Anti-Racism Initiative at MMC, in which students pursue independent research under her supervision on such topics as Postcolonial art, BIPOC artists, art for social change, and the reimagining of Confederate monuments.  

As experiential learning is central to developing a career in the arts, Prof. Bell has made a point of encouraging her students to hold internships at leading New York City art institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bonhams Auction House, The New-York Historical Society, Christie’s, and Sotheby’s, as well as Studio Assistant positions with practicing artists. Many of her students have also pursued advanced degrees in art history, arts management, art conservation, and arts education. 

In May 2024, Prof. Bell received a Teaching in Context (TIC) Grant from the Council of Independent Colleges for a new course she created, ART/SJS 212: In the Picture: Overlooked Women at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this course, students research and reveal the accomplishments of women represented in the Met’s collection; they then link these women to social justice organizations that advocate for women’s rights. The TIC Grant will fund class trips to the Met and hands-on activities with works of art. Prof. Bell teaches many of her art history Survey and Seminar classes in the galleries, museums, and historical sites of New York City. Her students meet some of the city’s leading curators, auction house experts, gallery directors, and museum staff–including some of her former students–and learn about opportunities for careers in the artworld. 


Ph.D., with Distinction, Columbia University

M.Phil., Columbia University

MA, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

BA, with Honors in Art, Smith College


Recent Work

Recent Publications

“The Picturesque Political: Charles Caryl Coleman and Elihu Vedder in the Circle of the Macchiaioli,” in Republics and Empires: Italian and American Art in Transnational Perspective, edited by Melissa Dabakis and Paul Kaplan. Manchester University Press, 2021.

“Charles Caryl Coleman Rediscovered,” Archives of American Art Blog, September 2019. See also

“‘Into the Broad Sunlight’: Anne Hampton Brewster’s Chronicle of Gilded Age Rome,” in Rosella Mamoli Zorzi and Katherine Manthorne, eds., From Darkness to Light: Writers in Museums, 1798-1898. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2019, pp. 285-94. Italian edition: “Alla Luce del Sole: La Roma Dorata delle Cronache della Gilded Age di Anne Hampton Brewster,” in Dal buio alla luce: scrittori nei Musei 1798-1898. Roma: Società Editrice Dante Alighieri, 2022.

“Echoes of the East, Echoes of the Past: Charles Caryl Coleman’s Azaleas and Apple Blossoms at the de Young Museum, San Francisco,” in Cynthia Fowler and Kimberlee Cloutier Blazzard, eds., Locating American Art: Finding Art’s Meaning in Museums, Colonial Period to the PresentLondon: Ashgate, 2016, pp. 33-45; paperback edition, 2020.

“John Singer Sargent: At Home in the World,” American Arts Quarterly (Fall 2015): 18-28.

“Techniques of the American Artist: From Experimental Chemistry to Representing Paint,” American Arts Quarterly 31:4 (Fall 2014): 7-17.

“Utopian Pastiche: The Still Life Paintings of Charles Caryl Coleman,” in Cheryll L. May and Marian Wardle, eds., A Seamless Web: Euro-American Art in the Nineteenth Century. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, pp. 147-62.  

“’Reflection was the Real Intensity’: George Inness Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute,” American Arts Quarterly 30:5 (Winter 2014): 9-17.

“George Inness (1825-1894).” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013. 

“Body-Nature-Paint: Embodying Experience in Gilded Age American Landscape Painting,” in Nancy Siegel, ed., The Cultured Canvas: New Perspectives on American Landscape Painting. Hannover, NH: University of New Hampshire Press, 2012, pp. 287-352. 

“On the Humanity of Meyer Schapiro: Reflections on Modern Art,” Introduction to Meyer Schapiro, Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries (Selected Papers, vol. II). Reprint New York: George Braziller, Inc., 2011, pp. xiii-xxiii. 

Recent Scholarly Presentations

“Submitting to the Indefinable: George Inness and the Language of Nature,” Church on the Hill, Boston, 1 June 2024

“The Montclair Art Museum’s George Inness Gallery,” State of the Arts, New Jersey, February 2023

“‘Heaven Wouldn’t Be Heaven Without Them’: George Inness and William Keith in California,” lecture and panel discussion for symposium: “Nature & Spirit”: The 125th Anniversary of the Swedenborgian Church, San Francisco, 21 June 2021.

“Image of the Invisible: Light and Faith in George Inness’s Moonrise Paintings,” lecture in concert with the exhibition “The Color of the Moon: Lunar Paintings in American Art” (8 February – 12 May 2019), Hudson River Museum, 31 March 2019.

“Passport to Freedom: Anne Hampton Brewster in Rome,” Session: “The Critical Voice in Art of the United States, 1776-1917,” College Art Association 106th Annual Conference, New York, 14 February 2019.

“George Inness’s ‘The Logic of the Real, Aesthetically Considered,’” Conference: “Swedenborg and the Arts.” Co-sponsored by the Swedenborg Foundation, the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Bryn Athyn College, Glencairn Museum, the Center for Swedenborgian Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and the Swedenborg Society in London. Bryn Athyn College, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, 6 June 2017. 

“A Reluctant Revolutionary: Elihu Vedder in the Circle of the Macchiaioli,” Conference: “Hybrid Republicanism: Italy and American Art, ca. 1840-1918,” Terra Foundation for American Art / Centro Studi Americani / Museo di Roma; held at the American Academy in Rome, 6-7 October 2016.

“‘Into the Broad Sunlight’:  Anne Hampton Brewster’s Chronicle of Gilded Age Rome,” Conference: “Dal Buio alla Luce: Scrittori al Museo, 1798-1898,” Scuola Grande di San Rocco / Museo Correr / Università Ca’Foscari di Venezia, Venice, 29 April 2016.  

“Dissent: Vedder, Coleman, and Italo-American Transnationalism,” Session: “Rethinking American Art and the Italian Experience, 1760-1918,” College Art Association 103rd Annual Conference, New York, 11 February 2015.

Chair of Session and Respondent, “Still on Terra Firma? The American Landscape in Contemporary Art,” Sponsored by the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA), College Art Association 102nd Annual Conference, Chicago, 14 February 2014.


AIP 327: The Body in American Culture: Pre-Colonial Period to the Present

ART 499: Independent Study projects for Honors in Art History. Topics have included the American landscape painter William Hart and the “doubleworks” of the British painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

ART 451: Senior Art History Seminar (capstone for Art History major)

ART 399: Independent Study Projects in the Art & Anti-Racism Initiative. Topics have included contemporary lesbian/ bisexual women/non-binary artists of color; contemporary Indigenous and Mexican artists; contemporary LGBTQIA+ artists working in New York.

ART 362: Visual Arts Seminar: NYC

ART 356: American Art

ART 353: Medieval Art & Architecture

ART 351: Ancient & Classical Art

ART/PHIL 398: Art & Philosophy in Venice (with Associate Professor of Philosophy Carrie-Ann Biondi)

ART 288: Visual Arts Abroad: Drawing on Rome and Florence (with Adjunct Professor of Art Jo Wood-Brown)

ART 288: Visual Arts Abroad: Drawing on Rome (with Assistant Professor of Art Beth Shipley)

ART 288: Visual Arts Abroad: Art & Literature in Paris (with Associate Professor of English Cecilia Feilla)

ART 250: Survey of Western Art I: Prehistoric to Early Renaissance

ART 252: Survey of Western Art II: Late Gothic to Modernism (standard)

ART 252: Survey of Western Art II: Late Gothic to Modernism (College Honors Program section)

WRIT 101: Spirituality and the American Imagination

WRIT 101: Nature and the Supernatural in the American Imagination

WRIT 101: Poe’s Pathologies

WRIT 102 & WRIT 201: The Life of the Artist (standard and honors sections)

NYC 101-01: New York City-A Love Story (New York City Seminar for first-year students)

Professional Experience

Professional Service

Member, Art History Review Panel, The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, The Institute for Citizens and Scholars, 2017-23

Member, American Art Reading Group, 2016-

External Adjudicator for American Art (peer-reviewed academic journal), 2014-

External Adjudicator for Tenure & Promotion applications at several institutions, 2013-

Docent Training, Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, 2009- 

Member, Associates of American Art, 2006- 

College Service (Recent & Selected List)

Director, College Honors Program, 2010-

Chair, College Honors Program Committee, 2010-

Director, External Student Scholarships, 2010-

Chair, Campus Evaluation Committee, 2010-

Coordinator, Honors in the Major, 2014-

Faculty Adviser, “Marymount at the Museums,” 2010-17

Faculty Adviser and Editor, Artfusion News, 2006-2011


Carson Hall, Room 700