Born in New York City in 1951, Spike graduated from Wesleyan University in 1973.  He began his career in art criticism in 1978 as New York Correspondent of the London based Burlington Magazine and earned his PhD from Harvard in 1979.   Among his many books on Mattia Preti (1613-1699), the subject of his doctoral dissertation, is the Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings (1999).  As a result of this work, Spike was named an honorary citizen of Taverna, Italy, the city of Preti’s birth.

During his career Spike has organized exhibitions and given lectures at many of the world’s most important museums: the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna; the Uffizi Gallery and the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence; the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Pierpont Morgan Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York; the Musée du Louvre, Paris; the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart; the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta, Malta and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He has also lectured at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford and the University of Malta.

In 2007, Spike was named to the faculty of the Masters in Sacred Architecture, Arts and Liturgy organized by the European University of Rome and the Pontifical Athenaeum, ‘Regina Apostolorum'. He is also an important critic of contemporary art.  Between 1999 and 2005, Dr. Spike directed the International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Florence. In 2005 he served on the juries of the Turku Biennial in Finland and the Triennial of India in New Delhi. 

Spike is the author of more than twenty culturally significant books on Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary art, which have been translated into Italian, French, German and Japanese. A second revised edition of his complete catalogue raisonné of the paintings of Caravaggio, first published in 2001 and several printings, appeared last year in connection with the 400th anniversary of the artist’s death in 1610. His new book, Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine has been greeted by advance praise from such authors as Ross King, Peter Robb, and David Alan Brown, Curator, National Gallery of Art. Everett Fahy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, called it, “an astonishingly vivid portrait of the artist’s first 33 years.  It’s the best life of Michelangelo I’ve read.”


Third Thursday Lectures


Dissimilar Revelations

by Dr. John T. Spike

Presenting Sponsor

Virginia Company Bank


March 15, 2012
This is how I once dreamed of painting! Paul Cezanne's Homage to Mattia Preti

6 PM with Reception to follow at 7, hosted by Virginia Company Bank


April 19, 2012
Velazquez and Caravaggio's Influence on Spanish Painting

6 PM with Reception to follow at 7, hosted by Virginia Company Bank




Muscarelle Museum of Art
Lamberson Hall

The College of William & Mary
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795

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