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David J O'Brien

Profile picture for David J O'Brien

Contact Information

Art History
143 Art & Design
408 E Peabody Dr
M/C 590
Champaign, IL 61820



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


$24,000 from Terra Foundation for American Art for Study Abroad Program in France and Exchange with the Ecole du Louvre, Paris

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, French and Italian
Professor, European Union Center

Honors & Awards

2007 Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Associate, Center for Advanced Study, UIUC 2005 Mellon Grant for Conference on Defining American Art 2004 Peter Norton Family Foundation; 2004 2003-4 Fellow, Center for Democracy in a Multiracial Society 2003 Millard Meiss Publication Grant from the College Art Association 2001-2 Fellow, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities 2000-1 Arnold O. Beckman Award from the Research Board of the University of Illinois 1998-9 American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship

Recent Publications

Chu, P. T. D., Gibbons, C., Orcutt, K., O’brien, D., & Taube, I. L. (2022). Editors’ Welcome. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 21(1), 1.

Chu, P. T. D., Gibbons, C., Orcutt, K., O’Brien, D., & Taube, I. L. (2022). Editors’ Welcome. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 21(3), 1.

O'Brien, D. J. (2022). The Fine Arts and the Napoleonic Wars. In A. Forrest, & P. Hicks (Eds.), The Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars: Volume 3: Experience, Culture and Memory (pp. 302-327). Cambridge University Press.

O’Brien, D. (2022). Loss in French Romantic Art, Literature, and Politics. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 21(1), 155-159.

O’Brien, D. (2022). Musée de Picardie, Amiens. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 21(3), 182-191.

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