Art historian Paul Staiti to speak at Odyssey

"Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters’ Eyes" by Paul Staiti

By Alheri Egor-Egbe ’17

Paul Staiti, Alumnae Foundation Professor of Fine Arts at Mount Holyoke College and a noted expert on the intersection of American art and cultural history, will give a talk about his latest book at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, October 19, at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley.

In Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters’ Eyes, Staiti presents five painters from the Revolutionary War era: Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart. He analyzes how these artists transformed the turbulence of their time into enduring works of art, and how their contributions helped form the country’s founding narrative and mythology.

Calling the book “an impressive, ambitious undertaking,” and “a lively, splendid history that captures the times with insight, acumen, and a juggler’s finesse,” Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review.<

“Staiti has put both words and pictures together in a graceful book that helps us understand why the American Revolution looks the way it does,” said Joseph Ellis, a professor emeritus of history at Mount Holyoke and one of the foremost scholars of American history. “Of Arms and Artists sets a new standard for the fusion of art history and political narrative.”

Staiti is the author of numerous books and essays on American artists and has cocurated exhibitions at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he has been a two-time senior fellow. The talk is cosponsored by the College’s art history department.