BA (York), MA, PhD (Courtauld, University of London).

Contact details

Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN

+44 (0)20 7848 2826

Joanna Woodall read history at the University of York, with a year abroad at Vassar College. She trained as an art historian at The Courtauld Institute and began her PhD research at the University of Cambridge, as Speelman Fellow in Dutch and Flemish Art. Having spent several years in curatorial work at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford, and a year on a Leverhulme Fellowship at the University of Leiden, she joined the academic staff of The Courtauld Institute of Art in 1986 as Lecturer in Netherlandish Art. From 2002-2005 she was Deputy Director, Head of Studies, with responsibility for the teaching and research programmes, widening participation and staff development. She has currently returned to her research and teaching. This year she is delighted to be involved in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation interdisciplinary MA on Visualizing Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands c. 1550 -1730, which she is teaching in conjunction with an historian of science, Dr. Eric Jorink of the Huygens Institute in The Hague.

Joanna has published widely in Art History, the Berliner Jahrbuch, the Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek and the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek. Her edited book, Portraiture: Facing the Subject (Manchester University Press, 1997), has become a standard work on the subject and in 2007 she published a major monograph, Antonis Mor. Art and Authority (Waanders), that uses this sixteenth-century, internationally renowned portrait specialist to explore a period of extraordinary change, involving both opportunities and dangers [reviews by Walter Melion and Konrad Jonckheere]. Her most recent publication is ‘Laying the Table. The Procedures of Still Life.’ in Art History  2012: Dutch Art and the Erotics of Interpretation, edited by Bronwen Wilson and Angela Vanhaelen.

She is currently a member of the editorial board of the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek  and joint leader, with Professor Bart Ramakers of the University of Groningen and Professor Christine Goettler of the University of Bern, of a NWO funded networking project ‘Trading Values. Cultural Translation in Early Modern Antwerp'.


The creative and educational potential of collaboration has been a longstanding interest. Her previous work in conjunction with others includes the exhibitions Rubens. A Touch of Brilliance (2003-4) and Self Portrait. Renaissance to Contemporary (2005). She co-curated the latter exhibition and built her MA option that year around it; students were involved in writing catalogue entries. She is responsible for the website Picturing the Netherlandish Canon, an online project focused on a crucial early modern text on Netherlandish art and culture: Hendrick Hondius the Elder’s print series of artists, Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris, effigies (The Hague 1610). This makes accessible online English translations by Daniel Hadas of the Latin texts relating to these prints and includes essays by Joanna Woodall and Stephanie Porras. Designed by Eva Bensasson, the website has an interactive dimension.

research interests


  • Joanna's current research relates to her involvement with the NWO project ‘Trading Values. Cultural Translation in Early Modern Antwerp’, for which she is working on the relationship between money and virtue.
  • More generally, Joanna is interested in Netherlandish art from about 1540-1670, particularly painting and prints, in the broader context of developments in European art and the construction of knowledge.
  • She has a longstanding interest in portraiture, especially early modern portraiture, with some forays into modern and contemporary portraiture. This extends to self-portraiture and the artist as a figure for subjectivity in the early modern period.
  • Joanna is concerned with broader Issues of realism, including the significance of the copy, translation, the relationship between realism and desire.


  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation interdisciplinary MA on Visualizing Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands c. 1550 -1730, which she is teaching in conjunction with Dr. Eric Jorink of the Huygens Institute in The Hague.


  • Art and violence in the work of Jan Fyt (1611-1686)
  • Mary Beale and her ‘paynting room’ in London 1655 to 1665 and 1670 to 1699.
  • The portraiture of Hans Eworth (c.1520-1574), a Netherlandish Artist in London (M,Phil)

RECENT and forthcoming EVENTS

Spring 2013 Friends Lecture Series, Research Forum: Visualising Knowledge in Early Modern Europe organised by Professor Joanna Woodall with Dr Eric Jorink


24 January 2013 'In the midst of life. The presence of death in early modern art'. Keynote speaker at the LUCAS graduate conference 2013, 'Death. The Cultural Meaning of the End of Life'

21-23 March 2013 Joint leader and speaker at the second workshop of 'Trading Values. Cultural Translation in Early Modern Antwerp' networking project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This will take place in Antwerp, at the Rubenianum study centre.

4-6 April 2013 Participant in The Clark/Mellon Curatorial Roundtable "Extraordinary Portraits: Abstracted Identity in American Art". This is in preparation for an exhibition of the same name that is taking place at the exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery, Washington in 2015

31 May 2013 Invited lecture and Masterclass at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science as part of of the series "Künstlerwissen: The History and Theory of Artists' Knowledge" to the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, contributing to a Masters course at the Freie Universität, Berlin led by Professor Sven Dupre.


Recent/forthcoming publications


Hieronymus Cock’s Effigies. Living Presence in portrait prints after the death of the original model’ in C.van Eck et al. eds., The Secret Lives of Artworks, Leiden University Press 2014.


F. Scholten and J. Woodall 'Introduction' in D. Meijers, F. Scholten and J. Woodall eds. Art and Migration. Netherlandish Artists on the Move 1400-1750, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 63, Brill 2014


C. Goettler, B. Ramakers and J. Woodall, 'Introduction', and J. Woodall, '"De Wisselaer". Quentin Matsys's Man weighing gold and his wife, 1514' in C. Goettler, B. Ramakers and J. Woodall eds., Trading Values in Early Modern Antwerp, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarbeod 64, Brill 2014


Laying the Table. The Procedures of Still Life’ in a special issue of Art History 2013: Dutch Art and the Erotics of Interpretation edited by Bronwen Wilson and Angela Vanhaelen . This volume will also be published as an independent book.

Entries on Rubens’ drawings of Helena Fourment and Head of the Farnese Hercules in Stephanie Buck ed., Mantegna to Matisee. Master Drawings from the Courtauld Gallery, scholarly catalogue to accompany an exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery and the Frick Collection, 2012-13.


‘Lost in Translation? Thinking about classical and vernacular art in Antwerp, 1540-1580 in Bart Ramakers (ed.), Understanding Art in Antwerp. Classisizing the Popular, Popularizing the Classic (1540-1580). Leuven, Peeters Publishers, 2011 (Groningen studies in Cultural Change).

Picturing the Netherlandish Canon. An online project focused on a crucial early modern text on Netherlandish art and culture: Hendrick Hondius the Elder’s print series of artists, Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris, effigies (The Hague 1610).


 H. Perry Chapman and Joanna Woodall (eds.), Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 59 (2009): Envisioning the Artist in the Early Modern Netherlands.

This volume of twelve essays is concerned with the ways in which Netherlanders negotiated their positions in relation to varied, often contested ideas of what it meant to be an artist at a time when relations between a community of craftsmen and elite individuals, between consciousness of a native tradition and membership in an international humanist society, between image and word, between hand, mind and spirit, were being actively defined. It includes an introductory essay jointly written by the editors: ‘The Netherlandish Artist has his intelligence in his hand.’


Joanna Woodall, ‘A Woman’s Place. Joanna Woodall 1982-1985’, in Jacqueline Thalmann (ed.), 40 Years of Christ Church Picture Gallery. Still one of Oxford’s best kept secrets, pp.89-103.  One of a collection of nine essays by former Assistant Curators to commemorate the opening of Christ Church Picture Gallery in 1968.


Joanna Woodall, Anthonis Mor. Art and Authority. Studies in Netherlandish Art and Cultural History Volume 8. (Waanders Press, Zwolle).

This major study of the leading sixteenth-century portrait specialist Anthonis Mor considers his arresting images of princes, prelates, artists and merchants in dialogue with his intriguing religious paintings. A series of case-studies marks different moments in the artist’s exceptionally varied and peripatetic career. As a whole, the book explores ways in which the Albertian concept of the image as a divine force that makes the absent present, as friendship is said to do, was challenged and re-negotiated during a period of radical change to the order of things.


Tony Bond and Joanna Woodall, Self Portrait. Renaissance to Contemporary (National Portrait Gallery, London and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney).
A book published to accompany an international exhibition co-curated by Joanna Woodall and Tony Bond. Including essays by T.J. Clark, Ludmilla Jordanova and Joseph Leo Koerner in addition to those by the two curators, it is an ambitious exploration of the symbolic and material means through which artists visualized themselves in oil paint from the early fifteenth century to the beginning of the twenty- first century.


Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 54 (2003): Virtue, Virtuoso and Virtuosity in Netherlandish Art 1500-1700, edited by Jan de Jong, Dulcia Meijers, Mariët Westermann and Joanna Woodall.

This volume, of which Joanna Woodall was the lead editor, begins to map out a research territory in which value, in the form of virtue, is recognised to be invested in the work of art, the artist and elite beholders. It includes her introductory essay, ‘In Pursuit of Virtue’ and two articles by former PhD students.


Joanna Woodall, 'Wtewael’s Perseus and Andromeda: looking for love in seventeenth century Dutch painting’ in C. Arscott and K. Scott eds., Manifestations of Venus. Art and Sexuality (Manchester University Press).
This volume of essays resulted from a collaborative venture by women teachers at The Courtauld Institute of Art.


Portraiture; portrait prints; self-portrait; virtue; Antwerp; translation; early modern Netherlands; iconoclasm; friendship; authority, visualising knowledge, art and science, art and money, still life.