Starry Days Devoted to Starry Nights

Learn about the “Lord of the Lights,” the mystery behind Mona Lisa’s smile, and more in this new lecture series from Distinguished Professor and renowned art historian Janetta Rebold Benton.

“I think this lecture series has the potential to fulfill its goal—to enhance the cultural and artistic environment of lower Manhattan,” says Janetta Rebold Benton, PhD, of her series of four lectures on Great Painters and Their Masterpieces planned for this fall. “It’s one thing to rebuild the buildings of lower Manhattan; it’s another to rebuild the various aspects that make a vibrant community.”

Benton who, in addition to being Distinguished Professor of Art History and Director of the Pforzheimer Honors College on the Pleasantville Campus, is also an acclaimed art historian, author, and lecturer. She will kick off the Pace Presents season at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts with her lecture series. Known for her fast-paced, fact-filled lecture style, she frequently speaks at famed art locales such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach.

The series, which begins at the Schimmel Center on Wednesday, October 12, features four artists from four different countries representing four different major styles of art.  Each lecture will be an hour long and will be richly illustrated with a PowerPoint presentation. And at the end of each lecture Benton will summarize the key points in rhymed poetry.  She explained, “I want them [the audience] to remember what they’ve seen and to walk out, endorphins flowing.”

“If I had the opportunity to meet only one artist in all of art history—and if language were no barrier—I would pick Leonardo da Vinci,” she says in regard to the topic of her first lecture. Following each presentation, audience interaction will be increased through a themed lunch and questions devised to involve members in the discussion. “After the Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance lecture we’re going to have an Italian menu at lunch. There I will pose two questions. The first: If you could own one of Leonardo’s works that I just showed you, which would you choose and why? And then second: If you could ask Leonardo da Vinci one question, what would you ask him?”

What would Benton ask Leonardo da Vinci if given the opportunity? “I would ask him to paint my portrait and make me even more mysterious than the Mona Lisa.”

The series continues with presentations on Rembrandt and the Baroque, Vincent van Gogh and Post-Impressionism, and Pablo Picasso and Cubism. Benton is looking to the future and will continue her lecture series in the spring with talks on Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens, Claude Monet, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

For more information about these and other events at the Schimmel Center, please visit Faculty and staff can sign up for discounted tickets of $10. Please use the code PACEINSIDER to purchase your discounted tickets. You may purchase tickets online at, by phone at (866)811-4111, or in person at the Schimmel Box Office, Monday through Friday from 1: 00 p.m.—6:00 p.m.