Associate Professor of Art History and History

Associate Provost for Faculty and Student Initiatives in the Arts and Humanities




Daniela Bleichmar is Associate Professor in the departments of Art History and History at the University of Southern California, where she also serves as Associate Provost for Faculty and Student Initiatives in the Arts and Humanities.

Professor Bleichmar grew up in Argentina and Mexico before immigrating to the U.S. to attend college. She studied at Harvard University (BA, 1996) and Princeton University (PhD, 2005). Before joining the USC faculty, she held a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship through the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, with which she remain actively involved. She is also a member of the executive committee of the USC Visual Studies Research Institute, and serves as Director of the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate.

Her work examines the history of visual culture and the natural sciences in Europe and the Spanish Americas in the period 1500–1800, in particular. Her research and teaching interests include interactions between art and science in the early modern period; visual and material culture in the Spanish Americas and early modern Europe; the history of Iberia, the Spanish Americas, and the Atlantic World; the history of colonialism, imperialism, and global exchanges; the history of collecting and display; the history of books and print; and the history of travel.

She has received multiple prizes and fellowships for her scholarship, among them a Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2004–2006) a Getty Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2008–2009), and a Getty Research Institute fellowship (2013–2014). In 2007 she was honored by Smithsonian Magazine as one of “37 under 36. America’s Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences.” Her teaching and mentorship have been recognized with the USC College General Education Teaching Award (2008) and the Professor of Color Recognition Award from the USC Undergraduate Student Government (2015).

She is the author of Visible Empire. Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2012; Spanish translation: El imperio visible: Expediciones botánicas y cultura visual en la Ilustración hispánica, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2016). The book is a study of five scientific expeditions funded by the Spanish crown to explore the natural history of the Spanish Americas and the Philippines between 1777 and 1808. These expeditions brought together naturalists and artists, who working collaboratively produced about twelve thousand illustrations of imperial nature. The book discusses the status and uses of images in eighteenth-century natural history; the importance of visual material in training the expert eyes and skilled hands of naturalists; the role of print culture in establishing a common vocabulary of scientific illustration; the interaction among visual evidence, textual evidence, and material evidence; and the ways in which colonial naturalists and artists appropriated and transformed European models, producing hybrid, local representations.

Visible Empire received six book prizes: the 2014 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize for the best book in European history from ancient times to 1815 (American Historical Association); the 2014 Levinson prize for the most outstanding book in the history of the life sciences and natural history (History of Science Society); the  2013 Leo Gershoy award for the most outstanding book in 17th- and 18th-century European history (American Historical Association); the 2013 Tufts book award (American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies); the 2013 Phi Kappa Phi award for the best book by a faculty member of the University of Southern California; and the 2012 PROSE award for the best book in the history of science, medicine, and technology (Association of American Publishers). It also received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Arvey book award (Association for Latin American Art).

She has published widely on visual culture and natural history in the Hispanic world and early modern Europe, and co-edited three volumes: Science in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, 1500–1800 , with Paula DeVos, Kristin Huffine, and Kevin Sheehan (Stanford University Press, 2008);  (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); and Objects in Motion in the Early Modern World, with Meredith Martin (published in 2015 as Art History, vol. 38, no. 4 and in 2016 as a stand-alone book). A full list of publications appears on her CV.

She is currently researching and writing a book with the working title The Itinerant Lives of Painted Books: Mexican Codices and Transatlantic Knowledge in the Early Modern World. She is also working on a multi-year research project that will result in an exhibition at the Huntington Art Galleries in 2017, Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin, co-curated with Catherine Hess as part of the Getty Foundation’s major initiative PST2: L.A./L.A., as well as a single-authored book to accompany the exhibition (Yale University Press, 2017).