Lea Stephenson is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Delaware. She is currently completing her dissertation “ ‘Wonderful Things’: Egyptomania, Empire, and the Senses, 1870–1922,” which looks at American and British artists and collectors in Egypt during the Gilded Age and the embodied and material engagement with the modern country and ancient empire. Her work focuses on late nineteenth-century American and British art, and research interests include intersections between art and the senses, embodiment, materiality, portraiture, and imperialism.
Her publications include several articles in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, including an article on the multi-sensorial nature of the 1881 Aesthetic Movement dining room in the country estate, Kingscote, and a digital humanities project on the first exhibition of paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and its transatlantic networks. She also contributed a catalogue essay for the American Folk Art Museum exhibition: Unnamed Figures Black Presence & Absence in Early American Vernacular Art, in which she explores the idea of tactility in an eighteenth-century portrait through the material culture of Rhode Island, the West Indies, and enslaved labor.
She received her MA from Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art in 2017 and BA from Temple University in 2015. Stephenson has also previously worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Preservation Society of Newport County, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Clark Art Institute. Her curatorial approach toward British art includes examining questions of race, empire, and multi-sensorial experiences in the museum.