Nell Irvin Painter Bids Farewell to the Past

tags: historians, Nell Irvin Painter, history, painting, retirement, Chronicle of Higher Ed.



In 2005 the prize-winning historian Nell Irvin Painter put down her pen and picked up a paintbrush.

After 17 years at Princeton University, the publication of seven groundbreaking books, and terms at the helms of two prestigious historical associations, Ms. Painter said goodbye to all that. She retired at 62 and spent $150,000 to pursue a bachelor-of-fine-arts degree from Rutgers University, followed by an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design, in 2011.

And although she received a Centennial Medal that same year from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for her historical work, the former professor, once described by some peers as an imperious trouble­maker who refused to be boxed in, is not particularly interested in returning to the ivory tower.

In an interview here at her art studio, a few blocks from Penn Station, Ms. Painter, who is now 70, describes having given away all the books in her library. She says she'll never write another word of history....



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