Jaś Elsner

Jaś Elsner (born 19 December 1962) is a British art historian and classicist, who in 2013 was Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology and Art at the University of Oxford, based at Corpus Christi College (since 1999), and Visiting Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago (since 2003). He is mainly known for his work on Roman art, including Late Antiquity and Byzantine art, as well as the historiography of art history,[1] and is a prolific writer on these and other topics. Elsner has been described as "one of the most well-known figures in the field of ancient art history, respected for his notable erudition, extensive range of interests and expertise, his continuing productivity, and above all, for the originality of his mind", and by Shadi Bartsch, a colleague at Chicago, as "the predominant contemporary scholar of the relationship between classical art and ancient subjectivity".[2]


Jaś Elsner studied Classics and art history at the universities of Cambridge, Harvard and London, with a doctorate at King's College, Cambridge completed in 1991, followed by a research fellowship at Jesus College, Cambridge. He then joined the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, where he was Lecturer and Reader, before moving to Oxford in 1999. He has had visiting teaching positions at the British School at Rome, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and Princeton University.[1]

He is director of the Corpus Christi College Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity,[3] joint editor of the series of monographs "Greek Culture in the Roman World" for Cambridge University Press, and on the editorial boards of a number of journals.[1] He is the project leader of "Empires of Faith", a five-year research project by the British Museum and the University of Oxford, "to understand the creation of religious iconographies and their relationships with state formation from the Mediterranean World to South Asia and the Borders of China, c. 200–800 AD".[4]

Elsner describes his work as follows: "My main interest is the art of the Roman empire, broadly conceived to include late antiquity and the early middle ages including Byzantium as well as the pre-Christian Classical world. I began my researches by looking at the way art was viewed in antiquity – and this has led to an interest in all kinds of reception from ritual and pilgrimage in the case of religious art to the literary description of art (including the rhetorical technique known as ekphrasis) to the more recent collecting and display of art as well as its modern historiography and receptions. Since the art of antiquity has such a privileged, indeed canonical, position in our culture, the study of its receptions is an exploration of more recent history's varied, competing and often ideologically understandings of its own past."[1]

Elsner is married with four children.[1]

Selected publications


As editor

Selected articles


External links

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