Dr. Bryan Zygmont


About Dr. Bryan Zygmont

Dr. Bryan J. Zygmont is Contributing Editor for American Art. He earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland in 2006. He is currently Professor of Art History and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Louisiana Tech University. Zygmont is the author of Portraiture and Politics in New York City, 1790-1825: Gilbert Stuart, John Vanderlyn, John Trumbull, and John Welsey Jarvis, a book he partially wrote while a Visiting Scholar at the National Portrait Gallery. Zygmont was a Fulbright Scholar in 2013.


Even almost 950 years after its construction was begun, St. Sernin remains a religious structure that awes and inspires the pilgrims who still visit.

Basilica of Saint-Sernin


Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor), Gustave Eiffel (interior structure), Richard Morris Hunt (base), Statue of Liberty, begun 1875, dedicated 1886, copper exterior, 151 feet 1 inch / 46 m high (statue), New York Harbor
Over the past 250 years, the American colonies have transitioned from being mere holdings of European superpowers, to being perhaps the most preeminent superpower of our own day.

America in the World



Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural study for the United States Capitol), 1861, oil on canvas, 33-1/4 x 43-3/8 inches (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
Americans looked to define the nation’s identity, independence, and their ideals in the nineteenth century.

1800 – 1848



Allan Ramsay and studio, King George III in Coronation Robes, c.1765, oil on canvas, 236.2 x 158.7 cm (Art Gallery of South Australia)
The Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and the birth of the two-party system..

1754 – 1800


Robert W. Weir, Embarkation of the Pilgrims, 1844, oil on canvas, 548 cm x 365 cm (U.S. Capitol)
With the seventeenth century came European settlers, slavery in America, and tensions between British and French forces.

1607 – 1754


Thomas Eakins, The Agnew Clinic, 1889, oil on canvas, 214 cm × 300 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
From the silver used to make colonial sugar bowls to the steel used in submarines—how work, exchange, and technology have shaped the United States.

Work, exchange, and technology


Titus Kaphar, The Cost of Removal thumb
From the humble taproom to national television, political parties have vied for power since the 18th century.

Politics and power




Gilbert Stuart, Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington, 1796, oil on canvas, 96 × 60" / 243.8 × 152.4 cm (National Portrait Gallery)
Presidential portraits of George Washington were Stuart’s bread and butter when he returned to his native America.

Picturing George Washington





Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah (photograph taken June 2016)
Explore the role of geography and both the natural and human-made environments on social and political developments.

Geography and the environment


Hock E Aye VI Edgar Heap of Birds, Native Hosts (Arkansas), 2018, aluminum sign, series of seven, 46.7 x 92.5 cm (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, ©Hock E Aye VI Edgar Heap of Birds)
Explore how the various people who moved to and within the United States both adapted to and transformed their new environments.

Migration and settlement


Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave, model 1841-43, carved 1846, Serravezza marble, 167.5 × 51.4 × 47 cm (National Gallery of Art)
Though at first glance this nude seems plucked from classical antiquity, it actually alludes to modern politics.

A nude in Victorian America






Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851, oil on canvas, 378.5 x 647.7 cm (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
This gigantic canvas is one of the most famous in the history of American art, but it wasn’t made in the USA.

Examining visual evidence


Washington looking to his left in his military uniform (detail), Jean-Antoine Houdon, George Washington, 1788-92, marble, 6' 2" high, State Capitol, Richmond, Virginia, (photo: Holley St. Germain, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Lack of an American sculptural tradition compelled Jefferson to look to France for this portrait of Washington.

Sculpting an American hero