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Christopher Platts Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art

Christopher Platts teaches late medieval and early modern art history as well as museum studies and expository writing at Vassar. His research expertise is in the history of European and Mediterranean art, ca. 1200-1700, with a focus on Italian painting and manuscript illumination in a global context. He trained in art history at Harvard College (B.A.), the Courtauld Institute of Art (M.A.), and Yale (Ph.D.), where he also received an M.Phil. in Medieval Studies.

Chris is currently completing a book exploring the patronage, design, and reception of Venetian Gothic painting in Europe and the Mediterranean during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Research for this project and others on early Tuscan painting has been supported by residential fellowships and grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, Fondazione di studi di storia dell’arte Roberto Longhi, Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, and other institutions.

Chris has curated several exhibitions on medieval, early modern, and contemporary art, including shows at the J. Paul Getty Museum (“Renaissance Splendors from the Northern Italian Courts, summer 2015), the Yale Law Library (“Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic: Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice,” winter 2016-17), and UConn’s Alexey von Schlippe Gallery (“The Fabulous Lives of Morton, Nellie, and Maisie Plant: Art and Leisure in Gilded-Age Groton,” spring 2019). The catalogue he co-authored for the exhibition “Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic” won the 2019 American Association of Law Libraries Publication Award for a “significant contribution to scholarly legal literature.”

Recently Chris and his colleagues at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Berkeley Art Museum discovered an important painting by Paolo Veneziano, the leading painter in fourteenth-century Venice and the subject of Chris’ doctoral dissertation. This newly discovered work, The Betrayal of Christ, was one of the highlights of a recent exhibition of Old Masters at the Berkeley Art Museum for which Chris served as a consultant.

At Vassar, Chris is teaching “Art and Science in the Age of Leonardo and Galileo,” “Jan van Eyck and the Rise of Renaissance Painting,” and “The Museum in History, Theory, and Practice,” among other courses. For “The Museum in History” course, he and his students will co-curate an exhibition at the Loeb Art Center tentatively entitled “A Visionary Painter at Vassar: Violet Oakley (1874-1961) and the Great Wonder in Alumnae House,” spring 2020). In addition, Chris is advising senior theses on representations of the urban landscape in early Netherlandish painting and on the role of image-making in modern scientific practice.
  • B.A., Harvard College; M.A., Courtauld Institute of Art; M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
  • At Vassar since 2019


Departments and Programs


  • Art 105. Introduction to the History of Art and Architecture
  • Art 106. Introduction to the History of Art and Architecture
  • Art 130. Art and Science in the Age of Leonardo and Galileo
  • Art 218. The Museum in History, Theory, and Practice
  • Art 300. Senior Essay Preparation
  • Art 301. Senior Project
  • Art 330. Jan van Eyck and the Rise of Renaissance Painting