The Tragic Muse: Art and Emotion, 1700-1900

Art is often appreciated for its ability to delight our eyes and refresh our minds. But it can also serve as a powerful vehicle for exploring darker emotions, such as fear, sadness, and grief. And while these themes have an artistic history dating back to the ancients, the ways in which they have been represented in art has changed dramatically over time.

Published to coincide with the Smart Museum of Art's exhibition The Tragic Muse, the publication draws on the work of several distinguished scholars to examine the richly varied representation of tragedy in the European artistic tradition over the course of two centuries. This catalogue is generously illustrated with full-color reproductions of all the works contained in the exhibition, and the fascinating contributions offer new insights into the approaches taken by the visual arts, as well as literature and drama, in expressing and eliciting strong emotions.


By Anne Leonard, with contributions by Joyce Suechun Cheng, Glenn W. Most, Erin Nerstad, Sarah Nooter, and Thomas Pavel.

Publication date

February 2011


128 pages, 75 color plates 8 x 11"



Purchase this catalogue

Available for $30 online from the University of Chicago Press or in person at the Smart Museum Shop.