Bridget Alsdorf  Associate Professor


Bridget Alsdorf

Associate Professor19th-Century European Art


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2008

Bridget Alsdorf specializes in European art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on art produced in France. Her work often explores visual art’s intersections with literature, philosophy, and social psychology.

Alsdorf is the author of Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in Nineteenth-Century French Painting (2012), a study of the fraught dynamic between individual and group in the work of Courbet, Manet, Degas, Bazille, Renoir and (most extensively) Fantin-Latour. Through close readings of some of the most ambitious paintings of the realist and impressionist generation, the book demonstrates the importance of association as a defining subject of modern art. Alsdorf has also published essays on Bonnard, Cézanne, Gaillard, Hammershøi, Manet, Poussin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Utrillo, and Vallotton, and is on the editorial board of Her research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program, the Luce Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also worked at a number of museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Alsdorf’s current book project, Gawkers: Art and Audience in Fin-de-siècle France, focuses on representations of crowds and theatrical audiences, with particular attention to the cultural phenomenon of gawking (badauderie) and the relationship between art and emerging fields of social psychology. The book focuses on a group of innovative painters, printmakers, and filmmakers – including Vallotton, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, and the Lumière brothers – who placed the passive, susceptible vision of gawkers (badauds) center-stage, unseating the flâneur as the modern subject par excellence. She is also collaborating with Todd Cronan on a translation of the philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s Écrits sur l’art, and is preparing two essays: one on Vallotton’s political caricatures for the avant-garde magazine La Revue blanche, and another on Bonnard’s illustrations to Verlaine’s book of Sapphic love poems, Parallèlement, 1900.

Alsdorf is an associated faculty member in the Department of French & Italian, and teaches for the Program in Humanistic Studies. She received Princeton’s Graduate Mentoring Award in the Humanities in 2018.

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Teaching Interests

Professor Alsdorf teaches courses on European art from the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. Her graduate seminars have addressed the convergence of art, philosophy, and social theory; word and image studies; the cross-fertilization of painting and the novel; historical relationships between painting, print culture, and film; methodology; and new directions in the field. In addition to a regular survey of 19th-century European art, her undergraduate courses have explored the relationship of art and knowledge in the 19th century; selfhood and sociability in portraiture; modernism and masculinity; and the idea of the artist since the Renaissance. All courses take advantage of area museums and campus collections.

Selected Publications

“Les badauds à la baraque de La Goulue,” in Toulouse-Lautrec: Résolument moderne. Réunion des musées nationaux, 2019.

“Manet’s Fleurs du mal,” in Manet and Modern Beauty – The Artist’s Last Years. Getty Publications, 2019.

“Painting the Femme Peintre,” in Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900. Yale University Press, 2017. 

“Hammershøi’s Either/Or.” Critical Inquiry 42.2 (Winter 2016).

“Félix Vallotton’s Murderous Life.” The Art Bulletin 97.2 (June 2015).

Bonnard’s Sidewalk Theater.” nonsite 14 (Winter 2014/2015).

“Cyprien Gaillard: Blowing Off Steam.” Parkett 94 (June 2014).

Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in Nineteenth-Century French Painting. Princeton University Press, 2012, ©2013.

“Interior Landscapes: Metaphor and Meaning in Cézanne's Late Still Lifes.” Word & Image 26.4 (Oct. 2010).

 “La fraternité des individus: les portraits de groupe de Degas.” 48/14: La revue du Musée d’Orsay 30 (Oct. 2010).

 “Pleasure’s Poise: Classicism and Baroque Allegory in Poussin’s Dance to the Music of Time.” The Seventeenth Century 23.2 (Oct. 2008).