Robert Nelson studies and teaches medieval art, mainly in the Eastern Mediterranean and the history and methods of art history. He was the co-curator of Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai at the J. Paul Getty Museum in 2006-2007. His book, Hagia Sophia, 1850-1950, 2004, asks how the cathedral of Constantinople, once ignored or despised, came to be regarded as one of the great monuments of world architecture. Current projects involve the history of the Greek lectionary, the reuse of Byzantine art in Venice, the social lives of illuminated Greek manuscripts in Byzantium and their reception in Renaissance Italy and the collecting of Byzantine art in twentieth-century Europe and America.
Hagia Sophia 1850-1950: Holy Wisdom Modern Monument (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
Later Byzantine Painting: Art, Agency, and Appreciation, (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Variorum, 2007).
Editor, Visuality Before and Beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw, New York, 2000.
Co-Editor with Richard Shiff, Critical Terms for Art History, 2nd edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
Co-Editor with Kristen Collins, Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006).
Co-Editor with Paul Magdalino, The Old Testament in Byzantium (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 2010).
Co-Editor with Henry Maguire, San Marco, Byzantium and the Myths of Venice, (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University Press, 2010).
Co-edited with Sharon Gerstel, Approaching the Holy Mountain: Art and Liturgy at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. Turnhout, 2011.
“Letters and Language/Ornament and Identity in Byzantium and Islam,” in The Experience of Islamic Art on the Margins of Islam, ed. Irene A. Bierman, Reading, 2005, 61-88.
“Image and Inscription: Pleas for Salvation in Spaces of Devotion,” Art and Text in Byzantine Culture, ed. Elizabeth James, New York, 2007.
“Byzantine Icons in Genoa before the Mandylion,” Intorno al Sacro Volto. Genova, Bisanzio e il Mediterraneo (secoli XI-XV), Florence, 2007, 89-102.
“Empathetic Vision: Looking at and with a Performative Byzantine Miniature,” Art History 30 (2007), 489-502.
“Royal Tyler and the Bliss Collection of Byzantine Art,” in James N. Carder, ed., A Home of the Humanities: The Collecting and Patronage of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010, 27-50.
“And so, with the help of God”: The Byzantine Art of War in the Tenth Century,”Dumbarton Oaks Papers 65-66 (2011-12): 169-192.