The History of the Slade Professors

john ruskin image

In 1869, the Slade Lectures were founded in pursuance of the will of art collector and philanthropist Felix Slade.  Slade left his collections to the nation, and founded chairs of fine art at Oxford, Cambridge and University College London.  John Ruskin was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art in Oxford, and gave the first series of eight public lectures in 1870.  In his inaugural lecture, he announced that he was setting up the Ruskin School of Drawing, which is now the Ruskin School of Art. 

Each year, the Department of History of Art plays host to the Slade Professor of Fine Art, who is always a figure of international standing in the study of the visual arts.  The annual lecture series continues to focus on art historical topics, and takes place in weeks 1-8 in Hilary Term.   The list of previous lectures can be found below:

1955             E.K. Waterhouse: ‘The Aftermath of the High Renaissance in Italian Painting’.

1956             J.W. Pope Hennessy: ‘Italian Renaissance Sculpture’.

1957             Douglas Cooper: ‘Revolutions in Art’.

1958             Sir John Summerson: ‘Studies in English Architecture’.

1959             Eric Newton: ‘The Creative Process in Painting’.

1960             G. Zarnecki: ‘Romanesque Sculpture’.

1961             Sir Kenneth Clark: ‘Motives’.

1962             Sir Anthony Blunt: ‘Poussin’.

1963             Dr T.S.R. Boase: ‘The Arts in the Crusading States’.

1964             Professor Q.S. Bell: ‘Painting of the Victorian Age, ‘1837-1910’.

1965             Professor Sir Leslie Martin: ‘The Building and the City (1900-65)’.

1966             David Piper: ‘Portraits and History’.

1967             Professor M. Schapiro: ‘Cubism and Abstract Painting’.

1968             Professor N. Pevsner: ‘Writers on Architecture in the Nineteenth Century’.

1969             F.J.B. Watson: ‘Craftsmanship and Society in Eighteenth Century France’.

1970             Professor O. Kurz: ‘Islamic Art between East and West’.

1971             Professor R. Rosenblum: ‘Aspects of the Northern Romantic Tradition in

Modern Painting’.

1972             Professor S. Slive: ‘Observations on Dutch Art and Society in the Seventeenth Century’

1973             Professor M. Sullivan: ‘Chinese Landscape painting: the Birth and Rebirth of a Tradition’.

1974             M.D.K. Baxandall: ‘Art and Circumstances: High German Renaissance Sculpture’.

1975             M. Girouard: ‘The Powerhouses: Changing Forms and Functions in the English Country-Houses, 1400-1930’.

1976             H. Hibbard: ‘Caravaggio’.

1977             R. Herbert: ‘The Social Iconography of Impressionism’.

1978             J.G. Beckwith: ‘Early Medieval Art and the Imperial Ideal’.

1979             Dr J. Mordaunt Crook: ‘Victorian Gothic: the Dilemma of Style’.

1980             Dr N.R. Penny: ‘The Hero, the Sculptor and the Public’.

1981             Professor J. Brown: ‘Velazquez and Art at the Court of Philip IV’.

1982             J.F. Harris: ‘Neo-Palladian Architecture in England’.

1983             D.A. Freedberg: ‘Images and People: Towards an analysis of the History of Response’.

1984             Irving Lavin: ‘Sculptural Monuments of the Renaissance’.

1985             Charles Hope: ‘Renaissance Art and its Meanings’.

1986             John House: ‘Realism as Rhetoric in Nineteenth Century Painting’.

1987             Henry Mayr-Harting: ‘Ottonian Manuscript Illumination: Art at the turn of the first Millennium’.

1988-89            Alistair Rowan: ‘A Kind of Revolution: the Architecture of Robert andJames Adam’.

1989-90       Elizabeth McGrath: ‘Rubens and Ancient History’.

1990-1         Jennifer Fletcher: ‘Face Value: Portraiture in Renaissance Venice’.

1991-2         Michael Rogers: ‘Scholars and their source material: aspects of the History of Islamic Art’.

1992-3         Kirk Varnedoe : ‘The Poverties of Postmodernism’.

1993-4         Juliet Wilson-Bareau: ‘Goya: The Artist’s Hand and Mind’.

1994-5         Sir Michael Levey ‘Painting in Renaissance Florence: Botticelli to Bronzio’.

1995-6         John Richardson ‘Picasso and Cubism: a biographer’s view’.

1996-7         David Bomford ‘Art and Uncertainty: Technical Studies, Art History and Conservation’.

1997-8         Kathleen Weil Garris Brandt ‘Michelangelo at the Millennium’

1998-9        Joseph Connors ‘Boromini and Baroque Rome’

1999-20     Robert Hewison ‘Ruskin To-day’

2000-1         Donald Preziosi ‘Seeing Through Art History’

2001-2         Charles Saumarez Smith (co-ordinator) ‘The State of the Museum’

2002-3         Ernst van de Wetering ‘Reconstructing Rembrandt’

2003-4         Craig Clunas ‘Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China, 1368 – 1644’

2004-5         Larry Schaaf ‘The Pencil of Nature – Creating the Art of Photography’

2005-6         Tom Phillips ‘Making Art Work: The Artist in the Studio’

2006-7         Paul Binski ‘English Art and Architecture before the Black Death’

2007-8         Alex Potts ‘Art and Non-Art/ Experiments in Modern Realism 1945-1965’

2008-9         Richard Thomson ‘Style versus the State: Naturalism and Avant-gardism in Third Republic France, 1880-1900’

2009-10       Dawn Ades ‘Surrealism and the avant-garde in Europe and the Americas’

2010-11       Zainab Bahrani ‘The Infinite Image: art and ontology in antiquity’

2011-12       Antony Cutler, ‘The Empire of Things: Gifts and Gift Exchange in Byzantium, Early Islam, and Beyond

2012-13       Joseph Koerner, ‘Dream City Vienna’

2013-14       Tamar Garb, ‘Selves and Strangers: Photographic/Filmic Encounters in, of and from Southern Africa’

2014-15       Antony Griffiths, ‘The Print Before Photography: The European print in the age of the copper plate and wooden block’

2015-16       Wu Hung, ‘Feminine Space: An Untold Story of Chinese Pictorial Art’

2016-17       Caroline van Eck, ‘The Material Presence of Absent Antiquities: Collecting Excessive Objects and the Revival of the Past’

2017-18       David Ekserdjian, ‘From Drawing to Painting in the Italian Renaissance’

2018-19        Finbarr Barry Flood, ‘Islam and Image: Beyond Aniconism and Iconoclasm’

2019-20       Karen Lang, ‘Philip Guston (1913-1980). History and the Art of Painting’

2020-21       Jerrilyn D Dodds, ‘Material Histories of Medieval Iberia’

2021-22       William Kentridge – Slade professorship postponed until a future date

2022-23       Chika Okeke-Agulu, "African Artists in the Age of the Big Man"