David J O'Brien



David O’Brien’s research focuses on French art of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  His first book, After the Revolution: Antoine-Jean Gros, Painting, and Propaganda under Napoleon (Penn State, 2006; published in French translation by Éditions Gallimard, 2006) examined the interplay of art and propaganda under Napoleon Bonaparte.  His second book, Exiled in Modernity: Delacroix, Civilization, and Barbarism (Penn State, 2018), interprets Eugène Delacroix’s work as a response to modernity. He edited the volume Civilisation and Nineteenth-Century Art: A European Idea in Global Context (Manchester UP, 2016), co-edited Remembering Brown at Fifty: The University of Illinois Commemorates Brown v. Board of Education (University of Illinois Press, 2009), and co-authored Beyond East and West: Seven Transnational Artists (University of Washington Press, 2004).  Currently he is writing a book on the ways in which Napoleon was remembered in images and objects from 1815 to 1848.


O’Brien has been awarded fellowships and grants from, among other organization, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Université de Paris Ouest, the American Philosophical Society, and the Center for Advanced Study for the Visual Arts at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. 


Research Interests

  • French art
  • Jacques-Louis David, Antoine-Jean Gros, Théodore Géricault, Eugène Delacroix
  • French artists in North Africa and the Middle East
  • Representations of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Art and politics
  • Representations of war


  • B.A. Harvard University, 1984
  • M.A. University of Michigan, 1990
  • Ph.D. University of Michigan, 1995

Recent Publications

O'Brien, David J "Censorship of visual culture in France, 18 15-1852". Out of Sight: Political Censorship of the Visual Arts in Nineteenth-Century France. Yale French Studies. Yale University Press. 2012, 37-52.

O'Brien, David. "Censorship of visual culture in France, 1815-1852". Yale French Studies. 2012, 122. 37-52.

O'Brien, David J. "Eugène Delacroix, Journal". Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. 2012. 11(3).

O'Brien, David J "Napoleonic Painting, the Museum, and Memory". War Memories in Revolutionary Europe. London: Palgrave. 2012, 291-316.

O'Brien, David J. "Romantic Paris: Histories of a Cultural Landscape, 1800-1850". CAA Reviews. 2011.

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