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Krista Gulbransen

Krista H. Gulbransen

Associate Professor of Art History (Sabbatical 2023-2024 Academic Year)

Professor Gulbransen is an art historian specializing in South Asian art and architecture, with particular interests in manuscript illustration, portraiture and modes of cultural exchange. Before she began teaching at Whitman in 2014, Professor Gulbransen taught courses in Asian art at Skidmore College and the University of Virginia. Her prior experience working and interning at various museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art and the University of Virginia's Fralin Museum of Art, helped to shape her interest in exploring and critiquing historical and contemporary methods of museum display.   


Ph.D. Art and Architectural History
University of Virginia

M.A. Art and Architectural History
University of Virginia

B.A. Art History and Business/Economics
University of California, Los Angeles

Courses Taught by Professor Gulbransen

  • Introduction to Critical Art History and Visual Culture Studies
  • Museums and the Politics of Display
  • Buddhist Art of Asia
  • The Art of India
  • The Taj Mahal and Beyond: The Art of Mughal India
  • The Art of Colonial India
  • Miniature Worlds: Or Why We Are Drawn to Small Things (a First Year Seminar)

Professor Gulbransen’s research examines the origins and development of the painted portrait genre in sixteenth and seventeenth century South Asia. Her scholarship addresses topics such as Mughal-Rajput cultural exchange, historical representation and physiognomy, art and book collecting, political diplomacy and gift exchange, and the historiography of Indian painting classification and terminology. She has contributed essays on these topics to Artibus Asiae, postmedieval, South Asian Archaeology and Art (European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art peer-reviewed conference proceedings), and Journal of the American Oriental Society.

Professor Gulbransen curated the 2023 Maxey Museum exhibition Mapping India: Colonialism, Nationalism, and the Partition of South Asia as well as the 2014-2015 exhibition Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting from the 15th to the 19th Century displayed at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and the San Antonio Art Museum.

Her most recent project investigates the ways in which South Asian art and culture, particularly architectural plaster casts of Indian monuments, were displayed in nineteenth century Europe. This research explores issues of authenticity and mechanical reproduction, the ethics of conservation and ownership, notions of vicarious travel and colonial spectacle, Indian design and the Arts and Crafts Movement, the educational role of the museum, and historical scholarship on South Asian artistic and religious traditions.

Various funding sources have supported Professor Gulbransen’s work, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Program, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Adam Dublin Award for Global Multiculturalism, Whitman College, 2021

Faculty-Student Summer Research Award, Whitman College, 2020, 2022, 2023

ASIANetwork Faculty Enhancement Program, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2017

Walter Reed Hovey Fellowship, The Pittsburgh Foundation, 2012-2013

Theodore Rousseau Fellowship, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010-2011

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, United States Department of Education, 2009-2010

Critical Language Scholarship, United States Department of State, 2007

Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, United States Department of State, 2006

President’s Fellowship, University of Virginia, 2005-2009


“Jahangiri portrait shasts: Material-discursive practices and visuality at the Mugghal court,” postmedieval 11, no. 1 (2020): 68-79.

“Inscribing and Circumscribing the Portrait: A Study in Mughal-Rajput Cultural Translation,” in South Asian Archaeology and Art 2016, Vol. 2, Bridging Heaven and Earth: Art and Architecture in South Asia, 3rd Century BCE-21st Century, edited by Laxshmi Rose Greaves and Adam Hardy (New Delhi, India: Dev Publishers, 2020), 257-276.

“Reassessing the Origins of the Portrait Genre in Bundi: A Case Study in Northern Indian Artistic Exchange,” Artibus Asiae 77, no. 2 (2017): 131-182.

Ten catalogue entries in Daniel Ehnbom and Krista Gulbransen, Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting from the 15th to the 19th Century (Charlottesville, Virginia: The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia), nos. 5, 9, 19, 23-24, 26-28, 30, & 34.


San Diego Museum of Art, invited talk, “The Politics of Performance: Akbar and Images of Sun Veneration,” 2019

College Art Association Annual Conference, “British Technology, Imperial Spectacle: Casts of South Asian Monuments at the South Kensington Museum,” 2019

Freer Gallery of Art & the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Scholars Day, invited talk, “The Future of Indian Painting Studies,” 2018

Vassar College, invited talk, “Prayer, Performance, & Politics: Portraits of the Mughal Emperor Akbar Venerating the Sun,” 2018

European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art Conference, “Inscribing and Circumscribing the Portrait: A Case Study in Mughal-Rajput Artistic Exchange,” 2016

Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Akbari Portraiture Re-Red,” 2015

Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, curator gallery talk for the exhibition Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting from the 15th to the 19th Century

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