Latest News

Dr Cecilia Grönberg, Research Associate for 2022

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Dr Cecilia Grönberg is joining the Department as a Research Associate for the rest of 2022. Hailing from Sweden, where she is affiliated with the University of Gothenburg, Cecilia is a photographer, artist, researcher, and, since 2004, the image editor of OEI, an artistic and literary publishing project that she runs together with Jonas (J) Magnusson. Her books with Magnusson include Leviatan från Göteborg (2002), Omkopplingar (2006), Witz-bomber och foto-sken (2009), and För pås-seende. Berndt Pettersons collage och bokstavskonst (2012). While in Oxford, Cecilia will be continuing her research on a visual research project, “The Latent Image (Uncovering Developing)”, focusing on fading photographic life forms, such as “the latent image,” “developing,” “Kodak,” and “the darkroom.” She and Magnusson will also be working on a book about the politically and socially engaged art group Bildaktivisterna, “The image activists”. This group was formed in Stockholm in 1968 when photographers Tommy Tommie, Björn Myrman and Bengt O. Nordin put out an open call for joint photographic action. However, they did not define the group as media specific, and their work with image activism came to integrate and employ a variety of different media brought together in new combinations and constellations. Cecilia looks forward to meeting other members of the scholarly community here in Oxford.

Announcing the Terra Visiting Professor of American Art for 2022-2023

We arreed for oxford optione delighted to announce that Christopher Reed will be the department's Terra Visiting Professor of American Art for 2022-2023.  He is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Visual Culture at the Pennsylvania State University, where he directs the interdisciplinary PhD program in Visual Studies. His scholarship and teaching engage with a wide range of art and design with an eye to the social significance of visual expression and experience.  His books include the award-winning Bachelor Japanists: Japanese Aesthetics and Western Masculinities (2017), Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas (2011), the co-authored If Memory Serves: Gay Men, AIDS, and the Promise of the Queer Past (2012), Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity (2004), and the anthology Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture (1996).  


Fotogratula Award

Dr Mette Sandbye, a 2021 Research Associate in the History of Art department, received the Fotogratula Award from the Danish Journalists’ Association in a ceremony in


Copenhagen on 6 November 2021. Dr Sandbye was commended for her thirty years of dedicated research on photography, leading to her occupation of the first Professorship in Photography Studies at the University of Copenhagen. The Prize Committee described Dr Sandbye’s contribution as follows:

“As a teacher and supervisor, she has generously shared her knowledge and has inspired many students to focus on photography. That is why we now have well-trained photo researchers in Denmark who continue to work at various institutions to spread the knowledge of the values ​​of photography. As the author of many books, articles, reviews of photo exhibitions, and in her role as curator, debater and judge in photo competitions, she contributes significantly with her energy to draw attention to the importance of taking all parts of photography seriously on an equal footing with other means of artistic expression.”

Exhibiting Dante and the Divine Comedy in Oxford

Four current exhibitions and displays in Oxford celebrate Dante Alighieri, the Florentine poet who, in the Divine Comedy, described his


vision of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. This year marks the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, in political exile from his native Florence, at Ravenna. The exhibited works, by artists from the Renaissance to the present, engage in multifarious ways with an issue central to the history of art: the relation between word and image. Another theme of the exhibits is the impact of new technologies on the visual mediation of the poem: the fifteenth-century invention of print; the development of cinema in the early twentieth century; the rapid expansion of Artificial Intelligence in the present day. The Ashmolean exhibition highlights the theme of celebrity and its creation: a topic no less interesting to ourselves than it was to Dante. From the fourteenth century to the present, as these displays demonstrate, the Comedy has given rise to a visual culture beyond even its author’s wildest imagination.

Gervase Rosser, Professor in the History of Art, is curator of the exhibitions at the Ashmolean and Weston Library. He is also co-curator of the Taylor Institution Library display with Clare Hills-Nova, and of the Christ Church Picture Gallery display with Jacqueline Thalmann, Gabriel Sewell and Cristina Neagu.

These exhibitions form part of the Oxford Dante Festival. For further information and links see: Dante | TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities

Applications are invited for the 2022/23 Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professorship

Applications are invited for the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professorship for the 2022/23 academic year at Oxford University. This post, which is generously funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, will be based in the History of Art Department (which is part of Oxford’s History Faculty) and is offered in association with a Visiting Fellowship at Worcester College.

This post provides an exciting opportunity to build on long-term research networks, encourage international collaboration, and inspire a new generation of American art academics and curators by further embedding the subject into Oxford’s research communities and its graduate and undergraduate curricula. The successful candidate will engage in advanced study and original research in the history of American art, give a series of four public lectures, and organise a study day. They will also teach one undergraduate and one graduate course, supervise a small number of Master’s theses, and contribute to the Department’s general teaching and administration. 

The successful candidate will hold a doctorate and teaching experience in a relevant field, have a strong research record and/or research potential with a reputation as an international authority within the specialism and a publication record at a standard that will contribute to and enhance the national and international profile of the History of Art Department and History Faculty.

Applications are particularly welcome from women, from disabled people and from people of Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, as these groups are currently under-represented in academic posts in Oxford.

The post is fixed term for 12 months (or until 31 August 2023, whichever is sooner). The deadline for applications is 12 noon (UK time) on Monday 15th November 2021.  Interviews are expected to take place via Microsoft Teams in late November or early December 2021.

Applications for this vacancy must be made online. To apply for this role and for further details, including the job description and selection criteria, please visit:

Announcing William Kentridge as the Slade Professor for 2021/2

We are delighted to announce William Kentridge as the Slade Professor of Fine Art for 2021/22. Further details of his lecture series in Hilary 2022 will be announced in due course, and updated here.   

Reaktion Book Prize 2021

We are delighted to announce that this year's winner of the Reaktion Book Prize for an outstanding 1st year Object Essay has been awarded to Isobel Wilcox-Mahon for her essay on a reliquary casket of Saint Thomas Becket in the Ashmolean Museum. 

The Department is enormously grateful to Reaktion Books for their generous support of the Prize, now in its 12th year.

Micro-Internships with the Charleston Trust

The University of Oxford National Trust Partnership, based in the Humanities Division, hosted two History of Art students, Victoria Horrocks and Grace Page, for micro-internships with the Charleston Trust at Easter. Both students have written lovely blog posts about their work which have been published on the TORCH website and can be viewed here: 

Applications for the next round of micro-internships taking place remotely during 13-17 September 2021 are currently open until Monday 2 August for candidates from any Humanities subject area, from second-year undergraduate level and above. 
Candidates must demonstrate good written communication skills, experience of using archival research material, an ability to work both independently and as part of a team, and a keen interest in working in – or with – the heritage sector. 

More details here:

New staff appointment

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The Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Departmental Lecturer in History of Art Saul Nelson, who will be teaching for us from the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.

Saul is an art historian of the modern period. His work analyses the global development of modernist art in the aftermath of World War II. It uses this broadened context to rethink the work of artists who have formerly been seen as regressive or conservative, asking how their work might have engaged such vital political concerns as cold war nationalism or the critique of colonialism. An example of this approach, ‘Writing to Barnett Newman: F.N. Souza and the End of Modernism’, has recently appeared in Art History. His work has also been published in the Oxford Art Journal and The London Review of Books. Saul will be teaching Approaches and Art, Design, Architecture.

New staff appointment

The Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Departmental Lecturer Dr Di Wang, who will be teaching for us from the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.

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Di received her DPhil from Oxford, where she was a recipient of the Khoan Sullivan Scholarship in Chinese Art. Her research challenges conventional narratives about the art of early twentieth-century China in relation to the Western art-historical canon, revealing the interconnections between aesthetic pursuits and epistemological modes in the construction of modern Chinese subjects. Her first book project, Anatomical Visions and Revolutionary Bodies, builds on her doctoral research and explores how the epistemic images of human anatomy and the visual world of evolutionary theories shaped conceptions of the ‘body’ in art and medicine. It offers the first history of how the body was scientifically assessed and artistically represented across different visual media in Modern China. 

Di has curated at Cai Studio in New York and the Timothy Taylor Gallery, and managed an international portfolio of exhibitions for the artist Cai Guo-Qiang. She received the W.H. Pembroke prize for her curatorial work at Pembroke College, Oxford. Di will be teaching Painting and Culture in Ming China and Contemporary Art from East Asia.

New staff appointment

The Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Associate Professor Cora Gilroy-Ware, who will be teaching for us from the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.

cora gilroy ware

In her publications, exhibitions and teaching, Cora Gilroy-Ware seeks to challenge the assumed universality of Western hegemonic perspectives. She is particularly interested in the fabrication of ideal beauty from the 17th century to the present day, and the role of classicising sculpture and pictorial art in the reification of "racial" difference. Before coming to Oxford, Cora was a Lecturer in History of Art at the University of York, where she was nominated by the University's Student Union Excellence Awards for Teacher of the Year, 2020-21. 

Completed as part of a Collaborative Doctoral project shared between the University of York and the Tate Gallery, her doctoral project on the surprisingly under-researched classical nude in late-eighteenth century British art led to her first book, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain, published in April 2020 by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in association with Yale University Press. Research for this project laid the foundation for a broader interest in overlooked chapters in the history of visual classicism. With support from the Henry Moore Foundation, she is currently at work on a second book project on adaptations of Greco-Roman art, particularly marble sculpture, among artists of African and indigenous American descent including Phillis Wheatley, Ellen Craft, Mary Edmonia Lewis, Augusta Savage, Selma Burke, Carrie Mae Weems, Adrian Piper and Kara Walker. As a scholar of BIPOC heritage, she seeks to reconcile decolonial methods with traditional art historical areas of concern. 

Cora has curated at Tate Britain, the Huntington European Art Gallery and MK Gallery, and held fellowships at the Yale Center for British Art, the Huntington Library, California Institute of Technology, University of Naples L'Orientale and University College London. As an artist herself, Cora is also interested in projects that integrate theory and practice. She has recently edited a book on behalf of the contemporary artist Isaac Julien CBE RA centred on Lessons of the Hour, Julien's filmic portrait of the African American freedom fighter Frederick Douglass. She brings her historical expertise to bear on her contemporary art criticism, which has been published in the London Review of BooksX-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly and elsewhere. 

Geoffrey Batchen

nameless things

On Wednesday 19 May at 3pm UK time, Head of Department Geoff Batchen will be giving an illustrated talk about the experimental photographs of William Henry Fox Talbot. 

The talk is part of a larger symposium dedicated to the materiality of the photograph that is being hosted in Buenos Aires by the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero. This event claims to be the ‘First Conference on Photographic Materialities’. 

The talk will be broadcast via YouTube in English. You can watch it live or catch up later:




Poltern is a platform for writers to confront contemporary issues in art history, edited by four current graduate students at the University of Oxford. Divided into four sections – features, reviews, creative writing, and interviews – our goal is to engage with current discourse in the discipline and provide a space where other early-career creators and writers can do the same.


On Poltern you will find creative and critical writing by art historians, interviews with artists, and coverage of current events. Attached, but not moored, to our status as Oxford-based graduate students, it is our hope that Poltern develops with us as we continue our journeys beyond our current institution.

Its title is a German root meaning to crash or make a racket. It embodies what empowers, invigorates, and inspires us daily in our work in the arts: a concern for creating fissures and effecting change in the art institutions and structures from which our field has developed. We hope it inspires you, as well.

You can read previous content and subscribe to receive future newsletters at Follow Poltern on Twitter and Instagram @poltern_. 

All sections of Poltern are currently accepting submissions. Please submit your work at We look forward to hearing from you! 


Lia Costiner

encoding heritage seminar series

(En)coding Heritage Seminar Series

Lia Costiner (Stipendiary Lecturer and Junior Research Fellow in the History of Art) is organising a seminar series in Trinity term 2021 dedicated to the use of digital technologies in the study of art history and cultural heritage. Each session consists of four presentations describing ongoing projects in the field. Topics include digital art history, digital mapping projects, data visualisation, digital restorations, and new tools for the recoding of architecture and cultural heritage. 

The seminar is organised as part of the TORCH (en)coding Heritage Network, which Lia Costiner leads. Those interested can find the programme and register here:

Craig Clunas

craig clunas radio

Craig Clunas, Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, will be speaking with Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4 on 20 May about In Our Time: Journey to the West, the great Chinese novel about Monkey and his friends written in the Ming era.

Hannah Kressel and Victoria Horrocks

Hannah Kressel article abstract

MSt candidates Hannah Kressel and Victoria Horrocks have both published their undergraduate research in the 7th issue of the Bowdoin Journal of Art.

Victoria Horrocks article abstract

Kressel published a chapter from her undergraduate thesis, “Beyond the Balaboosta: Nurturance and Spirituality in the Art of Jewish Women.” The piece, titled "Woman of Valor: Depictions of Mealtime in Nicole Eisenman’s Seder and Meirav Heiman’s Trampoline," addresses how Eisenman and Heiman employ humor and the grotesque in depictions of Jewish mealtime to challenge historical expectations of women as corporeal and spiritual nurturers.

Horrocks published a chapter of her undergraduate thesis “Artistic Sisterhood: The Conversation Between Virginia Woolf's Fiction and Vanessa Bell's Painting” titled “Virginia Woolf and Clarissa Dalloway: Self-Revelation in Portraiture and Prose.” In this essay, she overlays the characterisation of Virginia Woolf in Vanessa Bell's series of four portraits of her sister from 1912 onto the semi-autobiographical character of Clarissa in Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway to reveal an intimate dialogue between the sisters' works.

Emily Burns


Terra Foundation Visiting Professor Emily Burns has just published a co-edited volume with Routledge entitled Mapping Impressionist Painting in Transnational Contexts. Collaborating with Alice M. Rudy Price, a colleague at Temple University, the volume offers an extended introduction and 14 microhistories related to the transnational circulations of impressionism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The contributors rethink the role of "French" impressionism in shaping these iterations by placing France within its global and imperialist context and arguing that impressionisms might be framed through the mobility studies’ concept of "constellations of mobility." Artists engaging with impressionism in France, as in other global contexts, relied on, responded to, appropriated, and resisted elements of form and content based on fluid and interconnected political realities and market structures. Written by scholars and curators, the chapters demand reconsideration of impressionism as a historical construct and the meanings assigned to that term. This project frames future discussion in art history, cultural studies, and global studies on the politics of appropriating impressionism.

Martin Kemp

visions of heaven

Martin Kemp, Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art, has just had a new book published by Lund Humphries.

Titled Visions of Heaven: Dante and the Art of Divine Light and published to coincide with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, this major new study is the first book to consider the impact of Dante’s vision of divine light on visual artists of the Renaissance and Baroque.

It combines a close reading of Dante’s poetry with an analysis of early optics and is lavishly illustrated with masterworks by Giotto, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesco, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Bernini and others.

Emily Burns


Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor Emily C. Burns has had a busy year in the History of Art Department at Oxford. In addition to her lecture series, “Performing Innocence: American Artists in Paris 1865-1914,” which is archived as a YouTube playlist, Burns has given research lectures related to her book manuscript in progress at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Nottingham, as well as at the Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference in North American Studies at the University of Helsinki.

With the Centres for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Birkbeck, University of London and Durham University, she co-organized a pair of online roundtables entitled “Race, Gender and Intermedia Art Practice in Transnational Paris, c. 1900,” which took place in February and March 2021. She also organized and presented on a panel at Nineteenth-Century Studies Association in March, “Markets and Identities: Artists’ Collectives, c. 1900,” and co-organized a panel in honor of the late Peter H. Hassrick entitled ““Picturing the American West - Peter H. Hassrick Visual Culture Panel” at the Western History Association in October 2020.

She presented a talk, “Emptying Paris: Edward Hopper in Paris, 1910 / 2020,” at the online conference, Watching, Waiting: Empty Spaces and the Representation of Isolation, organized by the Institute of Art History – The Cvito Fiskovic Centre, Split, Croatia in December 2020, which re-interpreted Hopper’s interests in empty urban spaces in the context of pandemic photography.

Emily Burns books

She published several articles this year related to her ongoing research on circulation and art making, including an article entitled ““Siŋté Máza (Iron Tail)'s Photographic Opportunities: The Transit of Lakhóta Performance and Arts” about one of the Lakota performers with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the photographic medium in Panorama in Fall 2020; an analysis of representations of children in the context of Franco-American exchange in “Hide and Seek: Ellen Emmet Rand, Childhood, and US Art Study in France, c. 1898” in Alexis L. Boylan’s edited volume Ellen Emmet Rand: Gender, Art and Business (Bloomsbury Press, 2020); and an introduction in French to the complex movements of American impressionism, “Regard voyageur: les peintres américains en France et l’impressionisme américain,” in Quand l’Amérique decouvrait Gustave Courbet et l’Impressionisme, edited by Frédérique Thomas-Maurin and published in 2021 by the Musée Gustave Courbet in Ornans.

Looking ahead, she is organizing a study day to take place online in the University of Oxford Department of History of Art in late June, 2021 entitled ““Belatedness—Modernity—Coloniality.” Belatedness of various kinds has long shaped American art and its historiography. Contextualizing this practice in the United States alongside global modernities, this study day asks: How has belatedness—framed through constructs of being behind, delayed, and not yet arrived—shaped modern art making and art historiography? How and why has art criticism spurred claims of aberrations to standard notions of progress that are temporally structured? How are these cases tied to place and time, even as they seek to deny their contemporary moment? In the process, how do these examples re-define ideas of time through cultural production and reception? This study day brings together scholars working on modern art to consider how belatedness has been employed strategically by artists and critics; imposed by the colonial project; and taken up by historians of art.

Amy M. Mooney

Oxford University’s Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art for 2019-20, Amy M. Mooney, is participating in two events that were planned in association with Oxford during her time here.

afrotropes pic

The first of these events is 'Counter Narratives and Hidden Histories', the 2021 annual conference of the Irish Association for American Studies, for which Professor Mooney is a keynote speaker. Professor Mooney will present ‘“Say It with Pictures”: Visualising Black Modern Subjectivities’ at 6pm on 8 April 2021. Advance registration required and all attendees must be members of the IAAS:

The second event is ‘Afrotropes and Art History’s Global Imagination’, a symposium taking place online on 23 April 2021, 2-7pm. Professor Mooney gives her lecture at 5pm. Advance registration required:

Costanza Beltrami and Emily Burns

Departmental Lecturer in Medieval and Renaissance Art History Costanza Beltrami and Terra Foundation Visiting Professor Emily Burns will each give lectures in the spring Research Lectures series at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

team effort

On 28 April 2021, Dr Beltrami will give a lecture, “‘A Team Effort’: Architectural Drawing and Multimediality in Late-Medieval Spain,” interpreting a fifteenth-century view of the east end of San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo as a dynamic rhetorical object in the context of networks and architectural production around master mason Juan Guas.


On 18 May 2021, Dr Burns will give a lecture, “The Vagabond as an Aesthetic Wanderer: Thomas Meteyard’s Aesthetic Peregrinations, c. 1890,” analysing how this painter co-opted the concept of the vagabond—a wandering traveller constantly out on the open road or open riverway on a canoe flowing with the current—as a metaphor for his oscillation between stylistic approaches, from impressionism to symbolism.

Both lectures will take place online at 5pm. Advance registration is required.

Geoffrey Batchen

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A lot of an academic’s work takes place between teaching stints, and this is especially so during a pandemic. Geoff Batchen, for example, has a number of talks coming up or already presented, delivered at his desk in Oxford but heard by a global audience.

On February 17, for example, he appeared at Rutgers University in New Jersey under the auspices of The Developing Room and the Center for Cultural Analysis to discuss his new book, Negative/Positive. A visual trace of that talk is available on YouTube at

On April 14 he gave a more formal talk about reproductive daguerreotypes (photographs taken of prints or paintings) as part of a lecture series titled ‘Photography at Work’, hosted in Sweden by ABF (Workers Educational Association), CFF (The Center for Photography), Malmö Art Academy, Konsthall C, and Konstfack: University of Art, Craft and Design.

The following week, on April 23, he will be moderating a talk by artist Nicola Green about her exhibition titled Unity. On May 10, he is giving a talk about the history of cameraless photography for the Oxford Art Society Associates.

A few days later, on May 15, Geoff is presenting the keynote lecture for a symposium devoted to Thomas Wedgwood, the first man to publish an account of his photographic experiments (this account appeared in June 1802 in the Journals of the Royal Institution).

Then, on May 19, Geoff is giving another keynote lecture, this time for a conference hosted in Argentina by the Program of Studies on Photography and Visual Arts of the Centro de investigación en Arte, Materia y Cultura/ IIAC - Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero. More details to follow.

For those interested in hearing Geoff speak more generally about photography, he has recently been interviewed for Pix, an on-line journal based in India. These conversations can be found at and


Associate Professorship (or Professorship) in Seventeenth/Eighteenth-Century Art History

Faculty of History, Department of History of Art, Littlegate House, St Ebbe's St, Oxford

We are seeking a highly motivated and inspirational person to join our thriving academic community of art historians and bring exciting perspectives to the teaching and study of the History of Art at Oxford. This is a joint appointment: the person appointed to the Associate Professorship will also be appointed to a Tutorial Fellowship at St Peter’s College and will be a member and trustee of its Governing Body. In time, the post holder may be appointed to a lectureship at a further college by agreement between the Faculty, St Peter’s College and that college (more details in the ‘Duties’ section of the job description; see job advert for this).

The Department seeks applicants whose scholarship focuses on the seventeenth and/or eighteenth centuries. We are particularly interested in candidates with a global outlook who can bring innovation to the way art history is conceived and practised. A goal of the search is to increase the diversity of the teaching in our Department, and we therefore welcome applicants who can offer frames of reference that are historically under-represented in the discipline of art history. We particularly encourage applications from women and people of colour. The successful applicant will join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a range of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon (UK time) on Friday 23rd April 2021. Interviews are expected to take place in May 2021. Vacancy ID: 150027


Digital Approaches to Art History and Cultural Heritage Conference

digital approaches to art

This conference explores how scholars are integrating digital tools into art historical research, introduces new audiences to cutting edge technologies and methodologies, and critically assesses the opportunities and challenges that such approaches present. Two themes are explored. The first, Digital Approaches to Art History (Digital Visual Studies), includes digital imaging, computer vision, network analysis, visual Distant Reading, digital research infrastructures and digital publishing projects. The second theme, Digital Approaches to Architectural and Cultural Heritage (sites and objects), covers data capture, 3D and 4D modelling, and virtual anastylosis. It likewise treats the display, exploration and research of cultural heritage sites using new technologies, including but not limited to virtual and augmented reality.

The conference will be held online on 4-5 March 2021, and those interested can find the programme and register here:

The event is co-organised by Lia Costiner (Stipendiary Lecturer and Junior Research Fellow in the History of Art) in collaboration with Dr Leonardo Impett, Assistant Professor at the University of Durham, as part of the University of Oxford TORCH (en)coding Heritage network, which Lia leads.

Terra Foundation Visiting Professor for 2021-22

charlene villasenor black

Terra Foundation Visiting Professor for 2021-22 will bring new perspectives on American art in a global context.

Professor Charlene Villaseñor Black, currently Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, has been appointed as Oxford University’s sixth Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor for 2021-22.

The Terra Foundation Visiting Professorship is an annual appointment which was established in 2016 to promote the study of American art from a global perspective at the University of Oxford and beyond, thanks to funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art. Each Visiting Professor engages in advanced research in the visual arts of the United States, delivers public lectures and organises symposia that encourage international research collaboration. They also offer courses to undergraduate and graduate students.

Professor Villaseñor Black, who is a leading expert on a range of topics related to contemporary Latinx art, the early modern Iberian world and Chicanx studies, will begin her Visiting Professorship in October. She said: “Given the rich resources at Oxford for the study of art history, I am excited by the possibility of establishing close contacts with scholars there and elsewhere in the UK. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues in departments across Oxford and using the museum and library resources, which are unmatched in the world.”

Professor Villaseñor Black’s expertise will make a valuable contribution to the breadth of subjects offered as part of Oxford’s teaching and research in the History of Art. In 2016, she was awarded UCLA’s Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence for exceptional teaching, innovative research, and strong commitment to university services. Speaking about her teaching at Oxford, Professor Villaseñor Black said: “My proposed undergraduate course expands the definition of American art by positioning Hispanic art of the United States, from the 18th-century to the present day, at the heart of what it means to be ‘American’.”

To read the full article please click here.

The Terra Lectures in American Art 2021

The Terra Lectures in American Art: Performing Innocence: US Artists in Paris, 1865-1914

Presented by Emily C. Burns, Terra Foundation Visiting Professor in American Art, Wednesdays at 17:00-1800 GMT,  17 February to 10 March 2021

Between the end of the US Civil War and the start of World War I, thousands of American artists studied and worked in Paris. While popular thought holds that they went to imbibe culture and attain artistic maturity, in this four-part lecture series, Professor Emily Burns explores the various ways that Americans in Paris performed instead a cultural immaturity that pandered to European expectations that the United States lacked history, tradition, and culture. The lectures chart knowing constructions of innocence that US artists and writers projected abroad in both art practice and social performance, linking them to ongoing conversations about race, gender, art making, modernity, physio-psychological experience, evolutionary theory, and national identity in France and in the United States. Interwoven myths in art and social practice that framed Puritanism; an ironically long-standing penchant for anything new and original; primitivism designed by white artists’ playing with ideas of Blackness and Indigeneity; childhood’s incisive perception; and originary sight operated in tandem to turn a liability of lacking culture into an asset. In analyzing the mechanisms of these constructions, the lectures return to the question about the cultural work these ideas enacted when performed abroad. What is obscured and repressed by mythical innocence and feigned forgetting?

The Terra Lectures in American Art will be broadcast by TORCH via YouTube.

Architectural History Seminar

On 11 January, 2021, our new Departmental Lecturer, Costanza Beltrami, contributed a talk to the Architectural History Seminar.


This seminar series, co-convened by our other new DL, Neal Shasore, is run by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB),of which Neal is Honorary Secretary, co-supported by the Institute of Historical Research. Since the summer, and for the duration of the lockdown, they have teamed up with the longstanding Oxford Architectural History Seminar for a virtual 'super seminar.' With over 4000 sign-ups since June, the SAHGB's virtual programme reaches ever larger audiences globally. These events are free to attend and open to all. Details of future events will be published in the coming weeks, and will include a series of specially-commissioned articles, talks and seminar papers for LGBT History Month (February) - featuring a discussion led by Prof Ben Campkin on trans spatial histories and heritage - and Women's History Month (March) - featuring a collaborative event with SAH (US) for International Women's Day convened by Dr Elizabeth Darling. 

Costanza’s presentation discussed the long history of the cloister of Segovia cathedral, first erected in the fifteenth century. Shifting her analysis from the cloister’s construction to its conception and relocation, she addressed such issues as collaboration, competition and conservation. Her paper revealed that the history of this cloister has never been static, involving complex processes of inheritance, modification and critique.

Geoffrey Batchen

batchen  negative positive a history of photography

Geoffrey Batchen has just had a book issued by Routledge. As its title suggests, Negative/Positive: A History of Photography begins with the negative, a foundational element of analog photography that is nonetheless usually ignored, and uses this to tell a representative, rather than comprehensive, history of the medium.The fact that a photograph is split between negative and positive manifestations means that its identity is always simultaneously divided and multiplied. The interaction of these two components was often spread out over time and space and could involve more than one person, giving photography the capacity to produce multiple copies of a given image and for that image to have many different looks, sizes and makers. This book traces these complications for canonical images by such figures as William Henry Fox Talbot, Kusakabe Kimbei, Dorothea Lange, Man Ray, Seydou Keïta, Richard Avedon, and Andreas Gursky. But it also considers a number of related issues crucial to any understanding of photography, from the business practices of professional photographers to the repetition of pose and setting that is so central to certain familiar photographic genres. Ranging from the daguerreotype to the digital image, the end result is a kind of little history of photography, partial and episodic, but no less significant a rendition of the photographic experience for being so.

This book represents a summation of Batchen’s work to date, making it be essential reading for students and scholars of photography and for all those interested in the history of the medium.

Jennifer Johnson

johnson  georges rouault and material imagining

Jennifer Johnson, who received her PhD from History of Art at Oxford in 2014, has just published a book with Bloomsbury based on her doctoral thesis. The book, Georges Rouault and Material Imagining, is a reappraisal of the work of an artist who has tended to dwell on the margins of modernist art history. Often described as a difficult and dark painter, Johnson shows us that Georges Rouault's oeuvre is in fact deeply experimental. Images of the circus emerge from a plethora of chaotic marks, while numerous landscapes appear as if ossified in thick paint. Georges Rouault and Material Imagining approaches Rouault in relation to contemporary theories about making and material, examining how he constructs a 'material consciousness' that departs from other modern painters. Rouault's work explodes the genre of painting, drawing upon the residue of Gustave Moreau's symbolism, the extremities of Fauvism, and the radical theatrical experiments of Alfred Jarry. The repetitions and re-workings at the heart of Rouault's process defy conventional chronological treatment, and place the emphasis upon the coming-into-being of the work of art. Ultimately, the process of making is revealed as both a search for understanding and a response to the problematic world of the twentieth century. Georges Rouault and Material Imagining therefore offers an innovative critical approach to the various questions raised by this difficult modernist. 


Geoffrey Batchen

geoff batchen  apparations pgotography and dissemination

Geoffrey Batchen’s book, Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination (Power Publications and NAMU, 2020), has been awarded the ‘best book’ prize for 2020 by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. The judges described the book as follows:

An original, convincing and extensively researched book that may change the discipline’s understanding (in art history / photography history / critical theory / museum curating) of the complex processes involved in some of the earliest forms of commercial photography. This path-breaking study challenges photography history’s existing narrative paradigm that “privileges the singular photograph” over “the reproducible photographic image”. Batchen traces the genesis of certain early portrait daguerreotypes and their ‘transfiguration’ through engraving and lithographic printing, producing ‘ghost’ images that necessitate revaluations of both vintage photographs and their reproductions. Judiciously illustrated and with a contemporary feel, this book is constructed as a visual artefact of 2019.



Conference about Iberia

Travelling Objects, Travelling People: Art and Artists of Late-Medieval and Renaissance Iberia and Beyond, c. 1400–1550, online, 10–11 December 2020
This conference aimed to nuance our understanding of the exchanges and influences that shaped the artistic landscape of Medieval and Renaissance Iberia. Traditional narratives hold that late
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fifteenth-century Iberian art and architecture were transformed by the arrival of artists, objects and ideas from France, the Low Countries, and eventually Renaissance Italy, while 1492 marked a chronological rupture and the beginning of global encounters. Challenging these perceptions, the conference revisited the dynamics of artistic communication in late medieval Iberia, placing the peninsula in a global network, from Flanders to Florence, from Madeira to Santo Domingo. Bringing together contributions from international scholars working on Spain, Portugal and a range of related geographies, it addressed the impact of ‘itinerant’ artworks, artists and ideas, and investigated moments of encounter, conflict, and non-linear transfers of materials, techniques and iconographies.  

Travelling Objects, Travelling People was convened by Costanza Beltrami (Departmental Lecturer in the History of Art), and Sylvia Alvares Correa (DPhil candidate in History of Art). It featured contributions by established and early-career speakers from seven different countries. The Portuguese scholar and curator Fernando António Baptista Pereira delivered the keynote lecture, Importing Painting, Sculpture and other artistic objects from the Low Countries to Madeira during the Cycle of the ‘White Gold’.


JP Park

park  a new middle kingdom

J.P. Park has won the 2020 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, a prize given by the College Art Association in the United States to honour "an especially distinguished book in the history of art, published in the English language.”

A New Middle Kingdom: Painting and Cultural Politics in Late Chosŏn Korea (1700–1850) 
University of Washington Press, 2018

J.P. Park’s A New Middle Kingdom: Painting and Cultural Politics in Late Choson Korea (1700– 1850) marks a milestone in the scholarship of the history of Korean art and the arts of modern East Asia more generally. Challenging long-held nationalistic generalizations about late Chosŏn dynasty art, Park breaks ground by placing the new visual program of true-view landscape and genre painting in its social context, connecting it to interregional artistic and cultural dialogue between Korea and her neighbors China and Japan.  

This deeply learned, impeccably produced, lucidly written, and eminently readable book surveys Korean painting from a period of unprecedented economic prosperity, deftly positioning it within debates about national sovereignty, social order, and class identity. With a focus on changing conventions for landscape and genre painting, Park tackles topics of broad interest and significance, such as the relationship between art and “everyday” life, visual culture and literature, travel and personhood. Park makes the convincing case that painting in the late Choson dynasty has much to teach us about the history of art in China, Japan, and Europe, expanding our entrenched understanding of vectors of “influence” to illuminate the active resignification of sources, theories, and motifs in a rapidly changing world. Daring in his approach to questions of method, Park analyzes paintings for what they actively obscure as much as for what they manifestly show. By reading these images against the grain, and with diplomatic yet persuasive prose, he expands our understanding of what pictorial “evidence” may reveal, thereby opening up the study of Korean art to new audiences and offering productive avenues for cross-cultural comparison and exchange.  

A statement in response to Black Lives Matter

The History of Art department joins with the rest of the university and the wider community in expressing its anger and sorrow over the recent racial violence we have all witnessed in the United States. That sorrow is joined by frustration that the spectre of racism continues to haunt the United Kingdom, in word and deed, leading to fear and prejudice and denying equal opportunities to many in our society. This is a moment when we all need to reflect on our own complicity in the current state of affairs, and actively seek ways to demonstrate our tolerance and respect for difference and diversity.  As a department, we need to ensure that both our recruitment procedures and our teaching embrace that diversity and ensure fairness for all. As art historians, we need to think about how our own practices address themselves to these same issues. Representation is a key issue in both propagating racism and advocating for justice. In this context, our skills in analysing images and debating their meanings and significance have never been more crucial. The questions we ask in our research, and the ways in which we engage with and listen to others, manifest within the microcosm of academia the kind of society in which we would all like to live.

Dr Jon Whiteley 1945–2020

The Department of the History of Art mourns the loss of its great friend and invaluable colleague Dr Jon Whiteley, who died on 16 May. A renowned scholar of French art, Jon spent most of his professional career in a curatorial role at the Ashmolean Museum. Jon’s knowledge and love of the collections of Western Art ran very deep. His last major publication, a catalogue of the Ashmolean’s French paintings since 1800, will be published next year. Alongside his scholarship, Jon was also an extraordinary communicator and teacher. His early formation as an Oscar-winning child actor in films remained evident, as he held diverse audiences rapt in front of paintings in the Museum. (The Bodleian Library catalogue contains not only his many learned publications but some of the films in which he starred, including Hunted (1952, with Dirk Bogarde), Moonfleet (1955, directed by Fritz Lang) and The Spanish Gardener (1956, again with Bogarde).) In talks unlike any others in the genre, he would deliver orations of beautiful and memorable clarity.

Jon believed strongly in the teaching role of the Museum, and he inducted numerous undergraduates into the world of nineteenth-century French art. His pupils learned unforgettable lessons in the value both of close looking at images and of critical attention to the language of contemporary criticism. The rigour of his teaching set an admirable if at times daunting example; but his underlying kindness and sense of humour were always close to the surface. His inspirational guidance, combined with his invariably dapper appearance, gave him a cult status with his students.

He had taken his first degree in history at Oxford, progressing to study the history of art with Professor Francis Haskell. Haskell was a model of the art historian who combined an attentive eye for the artwork with extensive archival research and an interest in the social context of art. Together with Haskell, Jon and his wife, Linda, herself a scholar and teacher in the same field, taught several generations of graduates taking the Diploma in Art History which preceded the Master’s degree,  contributing a significant chapter to the long story of the history of art in Oxford University.

With the foundation of the BA degree in the History of Art in 2004, Jon and Linda became significant collaborators with the expanded Department. Both have contributed to the shaping and delivery of the new syllabus, and have been unfailingly generous in their supervision and guidance of both undergraduate and graduate students. Fortunately for the Department, Linda continues her connection as a Research Associate. In the context of art history in Oxford, the two have stood for a combination of historical research with close attention to the object of study which leaves an important legacy – one to be treasured.