Lois Oliver - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Lois Oliver

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Dr Lois Oliver

Visiting Lecturer

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Lois Oliver is an Art Historian with extensive experience as a Lecturer, Curator and Exhibition Organiser. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, and History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, completing an MA in Venetian Renaissance Art and writing her doctoral thesis on ‘The Image of the Artist, Paris 1815-1855’.

She spent a decade working in museums, initially at the Harvard University Art Museums, before joining the curatorial team at the V&A and then the National Gallery in London, where she curated several exhibitions and contributed to major re-displays of the collections.

Currently Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Notre Dame (USA) in London and a Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute, she lectures for arts organisations throughout the UK, and writes specialist audio interpretation for clients including the National Gallery, National Maritime Museum, Royal Academy, Royal Collection and Tate. She has appeared on a number of TV programmes for the BBC and Channel 5, as well as broadcasting on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4. Also a keen violinist, she plays regularly with orchestras including the Endellion Festival Orchestra.


  • 2015/16 Visiting Lecturer, BA1 Topic Course
  • 2014/15 Visiting Lecturer, BA2 Period Course
  • Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame (USA) in London
  • Course Tutor, Courtauld Summer School


Research interests

  • The Image of the Artist (Renaissance to Contemporary)
  • British art
  • 19c French art
  • Old Master painting
  • Art and Fashion

Recent publications


  • Rebels and Martyrs: the image of the artist in the nineteenth century (with A. Sturgis, R. Christiansen, M. Wilson), National Gallery Exhibition Catalogue, London (2006).
  • Boris Anrep: The National Gallery Mosaics, National Gallery/Yale University Press, London (2004).

Articles and Contributions to Books

  • Jean-Joseph Taillasson, ‘Virgil reading the Aeneid to Augustus and Octavia, 1787’, in The Eighteenth-Century French Paintings, National Gallery Collection Catalogue, London (forthcoming).
  • ‘Les visiteurs dans l’atelier de l’artiste: variations sur un thème pictural au XIXe siècle’, catalogue essay in L’Artiste en représentation: images des artistes dans l’art du XIXe siècle, Musée de La Roche-sur-Yon/Fage editions (2012).
  • ‘New Evidence towards an attribution to Holbein of a drawing in the V&A’ (with V. Button, A. Derbyshire, N. Frayling, R. Withnall), The Burlington Magazine (March, 2006).
  • ‘The Evolution of Rubens’s Judgement of Paris (NG 194)’ (with R. Billinge, F. Healy, A. Roy), National Gallery Technical Bulletin (2005).
  • 4 x biographies of Victorian artist-engravers for The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, OUP (2004)
  • Contributions to El Greco, National Gallery Exhibition Catalogue, London (2003).
  • Contributions to Impressions of the Twentieth Century, ed. M. Timmers, V&A, London (2001).
  • ‘Bodies of Work: Models as Artists’ in Jill Berk Jiminez ed., Dictionary of Artists’ Models, Fitzroy Dearborn (2001).
  • ‘The Visual Art of David Jones’s In Parenthesis’, Agenda (November, 1998).

Other professional activity

Exhibitions (Curator)

  • Love (National Gallery, 2008)
  • Work, Rest and Play (National Gallery, 2007)
  • Passion for Paint (National Gallery, 2006)
  • Rebels and Martyrs: the image of the artist in the nineteenth century (National Gallery, London, 2006)
  • Cheating? How to make a perfect work of art’ (V&A, 2002)

Exhibitions (Organiser)

  • Vivienne Westwood (V&A International Touring Exhibition, 2005)
  • Radical Fashion (V&A, 2001)

Exhibitions (Scriptwriter for audio/multimedia Tours)

  • Jean-Etienne Liotard (Royal Academy, 2015)
  • Masters of the Everday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer (Royal Collection, 2015)
  • Buckingham Palace Summer Opening (Royal Collection, 2015)
  • Painting Paradise: the art of the Garden (Royal Collection, 2015)
  • Making Colour (National Gallery, 2014)
  • Strange Beauty (National Gallery, 2014)
  • Late Turner: Painting set free (Tate, 2014)
  • Folk Art (Tate, 2014)
  • L. S. Lowry (Tate, 2013)
  • Daumier: Visions of Paris (Royal Academy, 2013)
  • Turner and the Sea (National Maritime Museum, 2013)
  • Watercolour (Tate, 2010)
  • Turner and the Masters (Tate, 2009)

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