Nathaniel Jones

Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology (On Leave, Fall 2021-Spring 2022)
PhD Yale University
research interests:
  • artistic production, art theory, and social practice in the ancient world
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    mailing address:

    • Washington University
    • CB 1189
    • One Brookings Dr.
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Nathaniel Jones studied Classics and Art History at Grinnell College and received his Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University.

    His primary research focuses on the intersections of artistic production, art theory, and social practice in the ancient world. His first book explores the representation of panel painting within Roman mural ensembles of the first centuries BCE and CE, arguing that such depictions functioned as meta-pictorial reflections on the  ethical and aesthetic value of art in the Roman world. A second book project seeks to examine the intertwined temporal and spatial aspects of Roman art in a variety of media, from the Late Republic to Late Antiquity. Further areas of research interest include ancient collecting practices, ancient perspective, repetition and replication in ancient art, the development of Greek and Roman art-historical thought, connoisseurship, and the reception of the classical world. 

    Selected Publications


    Painting, Ethics, and Aesthetics in Rome. Greek Culture in the Roman World. Cambridge University Press. 2019.

    Articles and Book Chapters

    With Sara Ryu, “Distance and Proximity in Hubert Robert,” Classical Receptions Journal 11 (2019): 476-507.

    "Truth from Fiction: Connoisseurship in Greco-Roman Antiquity." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 71/72 (2019): 229-240.

    “Exemplarity and Encyclopedism at the Tomb of Eurysaces.” Classical Antiquity 37 (2018): 63-107.

    "Starting from Places: Continuous Narration and Discontinuous Perspectives in Roman Art."The Art Bulletin 100 (2018): 7-35.

    "Phantasms and Metonyms: The Limits of Representation in Fifth-Century Athens." Art History: The Journal of the Association of Art Historians 38 (2015): 814-837.

    "Temple inventory and fictive picture gallery: ancient painting between votive offering and artwork." in Museum Archetypes and Collecting in the Ancient World. Monumenta Graeca et Romana, 21. ed.M. Gahtan and D. Pegazzano. (Leiden: Brill, 2015) 118-128.

    "Ancient Painted Panels: Terminology and Appearance." Mnemosyne: A Journal of Classical Studies 67 (2014): 295-304.

    Recent Courses

    Myths and Monuments of Antiquity
    Greek Art and Archaeology
    Roman Art and Archaeology
    Greek and Roman Painting
    The Age of Augustus: Rome from Republic to Empire
    Pictorial Illusion in the Ancient Mediterranean
    Stories in Stone: Visual Narratives in the Ancient World
    Greek Art in Rome: Discourse, Dedication, and Reflection
    The Invention of the Image: From Classical Art History to Modern Visual Studies
    Art and Death in Ancient Rome

    Distance and proximity in Hubert Robert

    Distance and proximity in Hubert Robert

    This essay focuses on questions of distance and proximity, both chronological and spatial, in the painting of eighteenth-century French artist Hubert Robert. It argues that, through the manipulation of different modes of distance in his paintings, Robert sought to articulate an aesthetic attitude which highlighted the remoteness of the past at the same time as he brought it into dialogue with the present. This aesthetic of distance is variously enacted by Robert's pictorial reflections on the ancient Roman system of roads, the virtual creation and collection of antiquities, and the actual movement of the physical remnants of the ancient world. The result, the essay suggests, is that Robert's work straddles the border of fiction and reference to both acknowledge and deny the presentness of the past.

    Classical Receptions Journal, Volume 11, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages 476–507

    Starting from Places: Continuous Narration and Discontinuous Perspectives in Roman Art

    Starting from Places: Continuous Narration and Discontinuous Perspectives in Roman Art

    A spectacular fresco from early first-century Pompeii is featured on the cover of the March 2018 issue of The Art Bulletin. Drawing on a palette of aqua, yellow, and deep red, it depicts Perseus rescuing Andromeda from captivity on a rocky promontory. The fresco appears in Nathaniel B. Jones’s essay “Starting from Places: Continuous Narration and Discontinuous Perspectives in Roman Art,” which explores how the painters of the time represented multiple temporal moments in a single visual field.

    Painting, Ethics, and Aesthetics in Rome

    Painting, Ethics, and Aesthetics in Rome

    In the first centuries BCE and CE, Roman wall painters frequently placed representations of works of art, especially panel paintings, within their own mural compositions. Nathaniel B. Jones argues that the depiction of panel painting within mural ensembles functioned as a meta-pictorial reflection on the practice and status of painting itself. This phenomenon provides crucial visual evidence for both the reception of Greek culture and the interconnected ethical and aesthetic values of art in the Roman world. Roman meta-pictures, this book reveals, not only navigated social debates on the production and consumption of art, but also created space on the Roman wall for new modes of expression relating to pictorial genres, the role of medium in artistic practice, and the history of painting. Richly illustrated, the volume will be important for anyone interested in the social, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of artworks, in the ancient Mediterranean and beyond.