A photograph of Eleanor Harvey

Eleanor Jones Harvey

Senior Curator (19th-Century Art)

Eleanor Jones Harvey is a senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her research interests include eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American art, notably landscape painting, southwestern abstraction and Texas art. Her most recent exhibition, Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture (2020), considers how deeply entwined the heralded naturalist’s ideas were with America’s emerging identity, grounded in an appreciation of the landscape.

Previously, Harvey organized the critically acclaimed The Civil War and American Art (2012), Variations on America: Masterworks from the American Art Forum Collections (2007) and An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection (2006).

Harvey joined the museum’s staff in 2003 as the curator for the museum’s Luce Foundation Center for American Art, an innovative visible storage study center. She served as chief curator from 2003 to 2012. In 2008, she was a fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership in New York City.

From 1992 to 2002, Harvey was curator of American art at the Dallas Museum of Art, where she organized several exhibitions, including The Voyage of The Icebergs: Frederic Church’s Arctic Masterpiece (2002), Thomas Moran and the Spirit of Place (2001) and The Painted Sketch: American Impressions from Nature, 1830–1880 (1998).

The Civil War and American Art won the 2012 Southeastern Book Festival Award for Best Art or Photography Book and the 2014 Smithsonian Secretary’s Distinguished Research Award. Her essay on artist Sanford R. Gifford appeared in the exhibition catalogue Hudson River School Vision: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford (2003). The book The Painted Sketch: American Impressions from Nature, 1830–1880 (1998), based on Harvey’s dissertation, won the 1999 Henry Russell Hitchcock Award from the Victorian Society of America as the most significant contribution to nineteenth-century fine arts studies.

She holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Virginia in 1983, and she earned both a master’s degree (1985) and doctorate in the history of art (1998) from Yale University. See full staff bio

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