Irving Lavin headshot

Irving Lavin

Past Faculty
School of Historical Studies

Art History


Historical Studies

One of America’s most distinguished art historians, Irving Lavin wrote extensively on the history of art from late antiquity to modern times. His interests focused primarily on the correlation between form and meaning in the visual arts. His numerous publications on painting, sculpture, and architecture include “The Sources of Donatello's Pulpits in San Lorenzo: Revival and Freedom of Choice in the Early Renaissance” (1959); “The House of the Lord, Aspects of the Role of Palace Triclinia in the Architecture of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages” (1962); “The Hunting Mosaics of Antioch and Their Sources: A Study of Compositional Principles in the Development of Early Mediaeval Style” (1963); Bernini and the Crossing of St. Peter’s (1968); Bernini and the Unity of the Visual Arts (1980); Past–Present: Essays on Historicism in Art from Donatello to Picasso (1993); Santa Maria del Fiore: Il Duomo di Firenze e la Vergine Incinta (1999); and Caravaggio e La Tour: La Luce Occulta di Dio (2000). The first two volumes of a projected six-volume edition of his collected works have been published as Visible Spirit: The Art of Gianlorenzo Bernini (2007–09), while the third volume has appeared as Bernini at St. Peter’s: The Pilgrimage (2012). A gathering of his essays on modern and contemporary art has appeared in Italian as L’Arte della storia dell’arte (2008).

Dates at IAS

School of Historical Studies
School of Historical Studies


Harvard University
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Washington University


Awards: Grand'Ufficiale dell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana 2019; Dedicatee: Bernini, Exhibition, Galleria Borghese, Rome 2017–18; Dedicatee: Bernini Giovanissimo al Roma Barocca, Colloquium, San Giovanni dei Fiorentino, Rome 2014; Accademia Clementina, Bologna, Accademico d'Onore, 1986; Sescentennial Medal Commemorating the Birth of Donatello, L'Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence 1986; Premio Daria Borghese, Rome 1981; Tercentennial Medal Commemorating the Death of Gianlorenzo Bernini 1980, City of Rome; Guggenheim Fellowship 1968–69; College Art Association of America, Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize 1968, 1962, 1959; Senior Fulbright Scholar, Italy, 1961–63
Lectureships: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Andrew W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts 2004; University of California, Berkeley Una's Lectures in the Humanities 1987; University of Michigan and American Academy in Rome Jerome Lectures 1985-86; University of Oxford, Slade Lectures 1985; Collège de France 1984, 1990; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, Franklin Jasper Walls Lectures 1975; Columbia University Charles T. Mathews Lectures 1957
Memberships: Honorary Member, Advisory Board, Galleria Borghese, Rome; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome; American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Honorary Member, Corporation of Sculptors and Marble Workers of Rome (Università dei Marmorari di Roma); Member, Italian Editorial Committee for a Complete Corpus of the Sculpture of Gianlorenzo Bernini; Honorary Citizen of the City of Montevarchi, Commemorating the Quadricentennial of the Birth of Francesco Mochi


Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Washington Square College, New York University
Vassar College
Washington Square College, New York University