Professor George R. Bent has taught in the Department of Art and Art History at Washington and Lee University since 1993. The holder of the Sidney Gause Childress Professorship in the Arts, Professor Bent offers courses on the art and architecture of Northern and Southern Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Renaissance—including lecture courses on medieval art in Byzantium and Italy, Italian Renaissance art, and Northern Renaissance art as well as seminars on the art of Venice, the High Renaissance in Italy, and Gothic art in France.
A two-time holder of Fulbright Scholarships to Italy, Professor Bent received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1985 and his Ph.D. in Art History from Stanford University in 1993. He cofounded Washington and Lee's interdisciplinary program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in 1995, chaired it from 2000 to 2003, served as Associate Dean of the College from 2003 to 2006, and currently serves as chair of the Department of Art and Art History.
Professor Bent's early scholarly work focused on issues of artistic production, the function of liturgical images, and institutional patronage in early Renaissance Florence. He is the author of Monastic Art in Lorenzo Monaco's Florence, a book that addresses these subjects through an examination of panel paintings, manuscript illuminations, and religious rituals performed in the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli from 1300 to 1415.
Professor Bent's current research interests revolve around paintings produced for public spaces in Florence between 1250 and 1450, which have caused him to consider works such as Madonnas in street-corner tabernacles, frescoes of virtuous heroes in guildhalls, cult images that worked miracles for common people, and images of political propaganda that decorated offices of state bureaucrats.
Professor Bent and his wife, Lorriann Olan, have three children, each of whom tolerates their father's obsession with the art and culture of the Italian Renaissance.