Barbara Lynn-Davis

Barbara Lynn-Davis portrait
(781) 283-2055
B.A., Brown University; M.A., Williams College; Ph.D., Princeton University
Barbara Lynn-Davis
Lecturer in Art

Research focuses on the city of Venice, Renaissance to the eighteenth-century.

After graduating from college with a degree in art history, I worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and embarked on a life-long love affair with the lagoon city. In particular, I am interested in the ways that Venetians—given their singular environment built on water—experienced, represented, and imagined the natural world. Asking this question about Venice and other historic cultures deepens my understanding of our own relationship to nature. Related to this theme, one of the combined art history/writing courses I teach is Gods and Groves: History of Gardens and Landscape Architecture. I also teach the writing sections of the department’s introduction to the history and analysis of art.

I am the author of a novel set in eighteenth-century Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife (Kensington Press, 2017). The story is based on an account by Giacomo Casanova of a fourteen year-old girl whom he passionately loved, married in a secret ceremony -- and ruined. I am currently at work on Searching for Raphael, a novel based on the true story of a self-portrait by the Renaissance artist that was stolen by the Nazis, and never found. It is widely considered the most important art loss from WWII.

At Wellesley, I have been able to unite these two intellectual threads—art, and writing—to bring out the best in students’ ideas. I am proud that my past students have been recipients of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’28 Art Prize, as well as the Three Generations Prize for First-Year Writing.