David Bjelajac

David Bjelajac Headshot
Professor of Art History and American Studies, Emeritus; Faculty Advisor
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Professor of Art History and American Studies, David Bjelajac received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Modern European History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has his Ph.D. in Modern and American Art from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Professor Bjelajac primarily teaches the history of North American art and visual culture. His books include two editions of American Art: A Cultural History (2000 and 2005) and two monographs on the American Romantic painter Washington Allston. Articles comprising the sculpture of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark (1777-78), Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre (1831-33), William Sidney Mount’s Eel Spearing at Setauket (1845) and Thomas Cole’s landscapes explore the history of American art in relation to Freemasonry, Hermeticism and the visual, material culture of national and international religious practices.


Current Research

Professor Bjelajac currently is working on a book project, which explores interrelationships between Freemasonry's visual culture and the history of American art.



Professor Bjelajac is the author of several books, including Millennial Desire and the Apocalyptic Vision of Washington Allston (Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, D.C., 1988); Washington Allston, Secret Societies and the Alchemy of Anglo-American Painting (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1997), and American Art: A Cultural History (Prentice Hall, 2000; 2nd edition, 2005).

He has contributed articles to American Iconology: New Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Art and Literature, ed. David C. Miller (Yale University Press: New Haven, 1993) and The Visual Culture of American Religions, eds. Sally Promey and David Morgan (University of California Press, 2000). He also has published articles on Washington Allston and Thomas Cole in American Art, the scholarly journal of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

David recently contributed the chapter, 'Freemasonry's "Living Stones" and the Boston Portraiture of John Singleton Copley,' to Freemasonry and the Visual Arts from the Eighteenth Century Forward, Historical and Global Perspectives (Bloomsbury, 2019)


BA Modern European History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
MA Modern European History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
PhD Modern & American Art, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill