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In Memoriam: Christopher M. S. Johns

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University of Delaware Art History Alumnus, Vanderbilt University Professor of History of Art

Chris Johns

​Christopher Johns​

Editor’s note: Elizabeth Moodey (MA 87) remembered Christopher Johns, a fellow Blue Hen and Vanderbilt University colleague. Moodey is an associate professor in Vanderbilt’s Department of History of Art and Architecture and teaches the history of illuminated manuscripts and late medieval art.

Christopher Johns earned his doctorate from the Art History Department at the University of Delaware in 1985 and went on to teach first at the University of Virginia and then at Vanderbilt University as the Norman and Roselea Goldberg Professor of History of Art. We lost him on May 8, 2022, after a long illness.

His exceptional career focused on eighteenth-century European art and will be celebrated—elsewhere and better—by friends and fellow scholars. Morna O’Neill kindly wrote about his influence in their field. Speaking as an outsider, I loved hearing about his projects—about why the Vatican was promoting coffee-drinking, how a kilt in a military portrait got so political, how Canova modeled his portrait of Napoleon’s mother on a statue of Agrippina (slyly making the French dictator Caligula), and about his most recent scholarship exploring both the lighter stylistic and darker political aspects of chinoiserie.

His mastery of the field and the hard work it took to get there were evident when we met as graduate students at UD, and it was a privilege to see how he had developed as a scholar and teacher when we overlapped at Vanderbilt. Christopher was an inspiring teacher and an extraordinarily generous friend and colleague, and we will miss him sorely.

Article by Elizabeth J. Moodey (MA 87), Department of History of Art and Architecture, Vanderbilt University

Image courtesy of Vanderbilt University

September 8, 2022

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Used in the Home Page News Listing and for the News Rollup Page
Elizabeth Moodey (MA 87) remembered Christopher Johns, a fellow Blue Hen and Vanderbilt University colleague who died on May 8, 2022, after a long illness.
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