Contact details:

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN


+44 (0) 20 7848 2732


Dr. Sheila McTighe previously taught at Cornell University and Barnard College of Columbia University.  She has been on the faculty of The Courtauld Institute of Art since 1999.

Honors and awards: Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome Mellon post-doctoral fellowship; John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; Leverhulme Foundation 3-year Major Research Fellowship.



Research Interests

Dr. McTighe teaches and writes about late sixteenth and seventeenth century art, mainly focusing on painting and graphic arts.  Her first book was on Nicolas Poussin, and study of his career has grown into an ongoing fascination for the cultural relations between Italy and France in the Ancien Régime, as well as for the ‘sisterhood’ of painting and poetry, word and image.  Classicism and the ut pictura poesis tradition, the birth of art criticism in this period, and the shifting status of the artist are all issues that have shaped her research. 

The negative portrayal of realism by classicizing critics, who abhorred representing ‘from life’, inspired her study of seventeenth-century genre imagery and of the artistic practices associated with both idealization and naturalism.  What was meant to be a book on Caravaggio’s realisms grew into a much wider project, incorporating studies of printmakers such as Jacques Callot and Abraham Bosse as well as essays on Annibale Carracci, Georges de La Tour, and Claude Lorrain.  Two volumes of studies on realism and genre art are in press under the title Realism in Seventeenth-Century Italy and  France, 1580-1670: vol. 1: The Absent Eyewitness (projected publication date Dec. 30, 2013) and vol. 2: The Imaginary Everyday (published in preliminary edition 2008, to appear in a fully illustrated and updated edition early 2014). 

Another transformation of research in progress has changed what was originally a study of Poussin and Carracci, which looked at how seventeenth-century writers shaped the two artists’ reputations by portraying them as new versions of Raphael.  It has become instead a study of Carracci’s and Poussin’s mutual reliance on prints, and particularly prints after Raphael, and of the ambivalent relations between ‘classicism’ and print culture in the early seicento.  This in turn has led to the newest research project Dr. McTighe is undertaking: she is working toward the first English translation of the correspondence of Nicolas Poussin, which has not received a modern edition since 1911. 

Research students

Dr. McTighe accepts students working toward the PhD in the area of early modern painting, prints and drawings, usually with a focus on French or Italian contexts.  Topics on the relation of Spanish arts to Italy or France are also welcome. 

Past research students include Dr. Edward Payne, ‘Violence and Corporality in the Art of Ribera’, degree awarded in 2013.  Edward has had a pre-doctoral fellowship from the British School in Rome and a two-year postdoctoral curatorial fellowship at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.  Dr. Ketty Gottardo, ‘The Barberini and their Use of the Printed Image’; degree awarded in 2013, supported by an AHRC studentship; currently Head of the Drawings Dept. at Christies, Paris.  Dr. Maria Lopez-Fanjul ‘Collecting Italian Drawings in 17th-century Spain: the Marques del Carpio’s Collection’;  jointly supervised with Prof. Paul Hills, degree awarded 2012;  Dr. Michaela Pittaluga, ‘Collecting and Social Status: Venetian Presence in Genoese Collections of the Golden Century, 1523 – 1656/7’; jointly supervised with Prof. Paul Hills, degree awarded 2012; Dr. Danielle Carrabino, ‘Ascondersi in Sicilia: Caravaggio in Sicily’, degree awarded 2010;  Dr. Karen Serres, ‘Models and Motifs: Caravaggesque Iconography in Seicento Rome’, supported by a predoctoral fellowship from the British School in Rome, and a two-year predoctoral  fellowship from the French Academy in Rome, Villa Médicis, degree awarded 2004; Postdoctoral curatorial fellowship at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., assistant curatorship at Yale University Art Gallery, now Schroder Foundation Curator of Paintings, The Courtauld Gallery.;  Current research students are:   Anita Sganzerla ‘Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione and the Erudite Print, 1630-1660’, supported by a Heinz Fellowship from the Courtauld Institute, thesis submitted in Sept. 2013 and to be viva’d Jan. 2014; Giulia Martina Weston ‘Niccolò Tornioli: The Life and Times of a Sienese Painter in 17th-century Rome’ in progress, supported by a Heinz Fellowship from the Courtauld Institute;  Naomi Lebens, ‘Prints in Play: Printed Playing Cards, Board Games, and the Fashioning of Social Roles in Early Modern Europe’.  Supported by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award given jointly to the British Museum Dept. of Prints and Drawings and The Courtauld Institute of Art, thesis supervised jointly by Dr. Mark McDonald and Dr. Sheila McTighe. Dr. Jane Hamilton, Gian Paolo Panini: Antiquity, Illusion and the Imagination (2003), supported by an AHRC studentship.



The Absent Eyewitness: Representing ‘From Life’ in 17th-century Italy and France (vol. 1 of Realism in 17th-century Italian and French Art, New York and Pittsburgh: Periscope Press, Dec. 2013).

The Imaginary Everyday: Genre Painting and Prints in Italy and France, circa 1580-1670 (New York and Pittsburgh: Periscope Press, 1st edition as Bownes Books vol. 1, 2007 (to appear in new edition early 2014, as volume 2 of Realism in 17th-century Italian and French Art

Nicolas Poussin’s Landscape Allegories (New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

 ‘The Old Woman as Art Critic: Speech and Silence in Response to the Passions, from Annibale Caracci to Denis Diderot’, The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes vol. 71 (2008).

‘The End of Caravaggio,’ review essay, The Art Bulletin 88 (Sept. 2006) pp. 583-89.
'Food and the Body in Italian Genre Painting ca. 1580: Campi, Passarotti, and Carracci', The Art Bulletin 86 (June 2004) pp. 301-323.

'Abraham Bosse and the Language of Artisans: Genre and Perspective in the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, 1648-1670', Oxford Art Journal 21 (1998) pp. 1-26.

'Perfect Deformity, Ideal Beauty, and the Imaginaire of Work: the Reception of Annibale Carracci’s Arti di Bologna in 1646', Oxford Art Journal 16 (1993) pp. 75-91.

'Nicolas Poussin’s Storm Landscapes and 17th-Century Libertinage', Word and Image 5 (1989) pp. 333-361.

Work in process:

‘Poussin’s Late Religious Paintings, Seicento Prints after Raphael, and the Passions of the Soul’ completed and awaiting final editing, autumn 2013

Print Culture and the Early Modern Arts (editor and contributor):  an introductory essay on the term print culture, and an essay ‘Caravaggio and prints in Rome circa 1600, Inter-imagination’.  With essays by Ketty Gottardo, Anita Sganzerla, and Naomi Lebens, among others.

The Letters of Nicolas Poussin (translation and critical commentary).  Poussin’s correspondence has never before been translated into English.  The volume will include a selection of letters, including some that were discovered after the 1911 French edition of Jouanny, and some fragments of letters that were drafted on drawings.  The volume will be introduced through a study of the extant letters as objects, analysed for what their physical state reveals of the writer’s ideas about communication and those of his interlocutors.