BA (Manchester University) 1991, PGDip (Courtauld, University of London) 1994, MA (Camberwell College of Art) 2003

Contact details

Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN

Elisabeth Reissner

Elisabeth Reissner has a degree in Art History, an MA in Drawing and a Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel paintings. Her research interests and teaching reflect the confluence of these disciplines. She has combined work as a paintings conservator in numerous galleries and museums, (including Tate and The Frans Halsmuseum) with both the practice of technical art history and her own art practice. In 2006 she became the first Caroline Villers Research Fellow in Technical Art History. Her focus was the way in which the Courtauld and National Gallery (London) watercolours and oils by Paul Cézanne had been made. Since 2007 she has been a visiting lecturer for the MA Programme Curating the Art Museum at the Courtauld. She took up the post of part-time lecturer in the Conservation and Technology Department in October 2010.

Research interests

Her current research is motivated by a long-standing interest in the integration of technical study within the discipline of Art History. It draws on a range of thinkers within art history and philosophy whose work, with respect to conceptions of creative process, how pictures work, and the relationship between an artwork and viewer, is useful in clarifying the sorts of ‘meaning in making’ relevant to technical art history.


A particular focus is interpretation of material concerning how Cézanne made his paintings. Her teaching interests include the use of technical material within museum displays, publications and on-line resources, and the theory and practice of conservation and presentation decision making.

Courses Taught in 2014-2015

Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings
MA Curating the Art Museum


  • “Texture, Transparency and Opacity in the Writing of Art History: Approaches to Materiality in the study of Netherlandish Painting of the Seventeenth Century,” Zeitschrift fur Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung No. 26 Vol. 2, (eds.) Dr. Wolfram Gabler, Prof.Dipl.-Rest. Volker Schaible and Prof. Dr. Christoph Krekel, (Worms: 2012) 448-461.

  • “Transparency of Means: ‘Drawing’ and Colour in Cézanne’s Watercolours and Oil Paintings in the Courtauld Gallery,” in The Courtauld Cézannes (eds.) Stephanie Buck et al., (London: Courtauld Gallery, 2008) 49-71.

  • “Ways of Making: Practice and Innovation in Cézanne’s Paintings in the National Gallery,” National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol. 29, (ed.) Ashok Roy, (London: National Gallery Company, 2008) 4-30.

  • With Jacqueline Ridge and Patricia Smithen, “Going Digital at Tate: Notes from the Near Infrared,” Digital Imaging for the Paintings Conservator, UKIC Paintings Section 2002, pp.8-15.

  • "De ondertekening: een kijkje in Heemskercks atelier" and ‘En zij gaven hem slagen in het gelaat’ (Jon 19:3): waarom warden de verdwenen druppels bloed niet opnieuw ingeschilderd?’ Conserving, restauratie en betekenis van het altaarstuk ‘Ecce Homo’ 1559-1560, catalogue accompanying the exhibition of Maerten van Heemskerck’s altarpiece “Ecce Homo” at the Frans Halsmuseum in 1997.


Conference papers and lectures given


  • "Paul Hills: Making a case for meaning in the matter of painting," presented at the Light, Colour Veils Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, June 2013.

  • "From the work outwards: interpreting the "meaning in the making" of the Courtauld Cézannes," presented in the Showcasing Art History Public Lecture Series, The Courtauld Institute of Art, April 2013.

  • "Exploring the material history and the significance of surface texture in the paintings of Paul Cézanne," presented at Journee d'etudes internationales: Face, revers et leurs interactions en peinture (1870-1900) in Rouen, France, December 2012.

  • "Making and spectatorship: The reciprocal roles of artist and viewer," presented at a conference celebrating the work of Gerry Hedley,Tate Britain, Clore Lecture Theatre, June 2012.

  • "The conservators role in museums and galleries: Practice and theory," presented in the Showcasing Art History Public Lecture Series, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Feb 2012.
    Invited speaker for "Drawings in Dialogue," held in the Courtauld Gallery’s Prints and Drawings study room in conjunction with the symposium Modernist Games Cézanne and his card players, Jan 2011.

  • "Cézanne’s card players considered in relation to the concept of painting from direct observation," presented at Cézanne’s card players in context Study Day, Courtauld Institute of Art, Dec 2010.

  • “Cézanne: Finding not fixing space,” presented to the Art History Department at Warwick University, 2009.

  • “Image, Object, Archive,” presented at Photo Archives and the Photographic Memory of Art History,' The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2009.

  • “The Making of the Courtauld Cézanne's: Theory and Practice,” The Courtauld Cézannes in Context Study Day, Courtauld Institute of Art, 2008.


Works in preparation


  • Technical study within Art Historical Scholarship: ‘Meaning in Making’ with particular reference to the works of Paul Cézanne, PhD supervised by Professor Aviva Burnstock (Courtauld Institute) and Professor Paul Smith (University of Warwick).


Technical art history, Paul Cézanne, conservation