Rebecca Bedell

Margaret Clapp ‘30 Distinguished Alumna Professor of Art

Art Historian focusing on the art and visual culture of the United States. Interests include the intersection of art and science, ecocriticism, landscape imagery, sentimentalism, and Disney.

My most recent book, Moved to Tears: Rethinking the Art of the Sentimental in the United States (Princeton UP. 2018), aims to uproot the still tenacious modernist prejudice against sentimental art and to transform our understanding of it, redefining and complicating ideas about what sentimental art looks like, who made it, and the cultural work it does. Key figures in the book include John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Winslow Homer, George Inness, and John Trumbull.
Much of my other published work has centered on the intersection of art and science. The Anatomy of Nature: Geology and American Landscape Painting, 1825-1875 (2001) explored the impact of the new science of geology on the work of Hudson River School artists, such as Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, and Thomas Moran. I also served as co-curator and catalogue essayist for the international exhibition Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts (2009). My current project is an edited volume on ecocritical approaches to art history across time and cultures.
My teaching ranges across Art History, American Studies, Environmental Studies, and Writing. Courses include Art & the Environmental Imagination, American Art, Breaking Boundaries: The Arts of the United States and Mexico, a seminar on Disney & American Culture, and our introductory art history survey.


  • B.A., Wellesley College
  • M.A., Yale University
  • Ph.D., Yale University