William L. Pressly

The Artist as Original Genius

Rollins students filled the Cornell Fine Arts Museum February 16 in anticipation of an exploration led by renowned art historian William Pressly. The author of many books, including several on the Irish artist James Barry, Pressly focused his discussion on themes from his most recent book, The Artist as Original Genius: Shakespeare’s ‘Fine Frenzy’ in Late Eighteenth-Century British Art.

Art historian specializing in British art of the late eighteenth century

Professor William L. Pressly is an art historian specializing in British art of the late eighteenth century. His most recent book is The Artist as Original Genius: Shakespeare’s ‘Fine Frenzy’ in Late Eighteenth-Century British Art (University of Delaware, 2007). His other books include several on the Irish artist James Barry and a catalogue of the paintings in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Another book, The French Revolution as Blasphemy: Johan Zoffany’s Painting of the Massacre at Paris, August 10, 1792 (University of California Press, 1999) examines a British view of revolutionary violence. He will contribute an essay for the catalogue of the William Blake exhibition, curated by Winter Park Institute artist and scholar  in residence Michael Phillips, and scheduled to open in Paris in 2009.

Professor Pressly has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including a Mellon Senior Fellowship at the Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies in London (2005) and a fellowship at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study (1994-1995). After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Princeton University in 1966, he taught at Yale University and Duke University. He has been at the University of Maryland, College Park, since 1987, where he teaches eighteenth-century art history and chairs the Department of Art History and Archaeology.

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The Artist as Original Genius: Shakespeare's 'Fine Frenzy' in Late Eighteenth Century British Art

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