Research in Early Modern - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Research in Early Modern

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Early Modern

Research in Early Modern

The early modern section takes great pride in its commitment to innovative research into a wide range of developments in Continental and English art and architecture from the late sixteenth through the mid-nineteenth century. We are able to provide unusually comprehensive and in-depth coverage of this enormously exciting period, thanks to the presence of specialists in both northern and southern Baroque, and in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain and France. Together with colleagues in the History of Art Department at University College London, with whom we have a close and productive professional relationship, the EMS runs a regular series of research seminars which provide a forum for the presentation of work by scholars at different stages in their careers, from doctoral candidates to senior academics. Additionally, there are important seminar programmes held at the National Gallery, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Institute of Historical Research, which are of central relevance to the work we do.

In recent years members of the section have played a particularly active part in organising important exhibitions, including Art on The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836 (Courtauld Institute Gallery, 2001-2); Peter Paul Rubens: A Touch of Brilliance (Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House, 2003-4); and an exhibition of self-portraiture 1500-2000, at the National Portrait Gallery in 2005. Conferences and study days are regularly organised both in relation to exhibitions and independently, complementing our research seminars and regular talks by leading scholars from the UK and elsewhere.

Resources for Research

The Courtauld’s own specialist book library has particularly strong holdings in the early modern field. Apart from an important group of seventeenth-century publications on art and architecture bequeathed by Anthony Blunt, here students also have access to the microfiche of the Deloynes Collection of eighteenth-century French art criticism, as well as to the largest single collection of press cuttings (both originals and microfiche copies) relating to the early exhibitions of the Royal Academy.

The Courtauld website Picturing the Netherlandish Canon provides access to a crucial early modern publication on Netherlandish art and culture: Hendrick Hondius the Elder’s 1610 publication of 68 portrait prints of artists.

Within walking distance are the marvellous resources of the Warburg Institute library, as well as the best specialist library on British art and architecture, at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in Bedford Square. The Sir John Soane’s Museum, which has an unparalleled collection of European architectural drawings of the period, is also minutes away from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

These of course are in addition to London’s many outstanding research libraries: the British Library, the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and University of London Library, to name but the most obvious examples. The Institute also subsidizes student tickets with which to use the Library of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The Courtauld is also fortunate to possess truly exceptional photographic resources. There is no better collection of photographs of works of art than the Witt Library, while for photographs of architecture and sculpture the holdings of the Conway Library are second to none. Here the British field is particularly well represented. And thanks above all to the Princes Gate Collection, the Courtauld Institute Gallery possesses a world-class collection of seventeenth-century Flemish paintings, supplemented by important holdings in English and Italian art from c1600-1800; the Gallery’s enormous collection of works on paper is also especially strong in the early modern field, and offers innumerable opportunities for original research.



Supervised by Dr. Sheila McTighe:


  • Hendrick Goltzius’s Virtuoso Engravings of the 1590s and Karel van Mander’s ‘Schilder-Boeck’ of 1604: A New Notion of Style
  • Raimondi’s Dream: The Oneiric Repose of the Sexualised Female in the Dream of Raphael
  • Stefano della Bella’s Hand-Screen with Rebuses: Exploring the Boundaries between Pictorial and Textual Expression in Seventeenth-Century Printmaking
  • Printing the Ottoman Empire: Geography and Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s ‘Ces Moeurs et Fachons de Faire de Turcz’

Supervised by Sarah Monks:

  • Narrating the Nation: Ruptures and Continuities in Benjamin West’s Conception of the Seventeenth Century
  • Turning Turk: The Negotiable Self in Early Eighteenth-century British Art
  • The Return of the Natives: The East India Officer Monuments of Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral 1757-1813


  • Representations of Colonial Companions in Eighteenth-century Anglo-Indian Portraiture
  • Issues of Identity in Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of George, Prince of Wales with a Black Servant
  • The Rural other: Representations of Gypsies in British Art c.1740-1795
  • Haunted Bodies: George Stubbs’ Comparative Anatomy (c.1795-1806) and the Search for a ‘Universal Language’
  • These Guiltless Spoliations: Curiosity, Commerce and Contradiction in some Representations of China by William Alexander and William Daniel

Supervised by Martin Myrone:


  • ‘Fixed as Fate?’: The Statue of Catherine Macaulay as ‘History’ (1777)
  • The Portraits of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds


  • Making a Mark: George Romney’s Liverpool Cartoons as Cultural Performance
  • Fantastic Feathers: An Emblem of Excess in Graphic Satire of 1776
  • Giles Hussey’s ‘Bacchus’ and ‘Ariadne’ at Syon House

Supervised by Aileen Ribeiro:


  • The Imperialist’s New Clothes: Reading Cultural Cross-Dressing and the Development of Colonial Identity in British India 1740-1830
  • Inspired: Art and History in the Fashion Designs of Yves Saint Laurent
  • Orange and Black: Fashion and Politics in the Dutch Republic 1780-1795
  • Debris, Repetition and Anti-Fashion: Ideas of Dress in Contemporary Photography since 1990
  • Art and Women’s Dress in England: The Classical Influence c. 1789-1914
  • ‘The Shackles of Conventionality’: Dress of Female Alpinists c. 1838-1914


  • ‘Socially Conscious and Consciously Outrageous’: The Visual Contribution of Benetton’s Advertising Campaigns and British Fashion Spreads to a Socio-Political Discourse in the 1990s
  • Turquerie, C’est la Mode: Eighteenth-century France and its Fascination with the Feminine Exotic
  • The Influence of Anglomania on French Fashion during the 1780s
  • ‘Glamorous Fictions’: Cecil Beaton’s Fashion Photography for British Vogue during the 1930s and 1940s
  • Fashioning the Fitzgeralds: Creating the Golden Couple of the 1920s in Literature and Life
  • The Fashioning of Advertisements: The Content, Language and Fashion of Garment and Cosmetic Advertisements in the ‘Tatler ‘and the ‘Spectator’ and their Place within the Developing Eighteenth-Century Consumer Society and Fashion Industry


  • Discuss Anna Pavlova’s Self-fashioning in her Art and Life as a Dancer
  • The Development of British Royal Navy Sailor Uniform and its Influence on Civilian Fashion in Victorian England, 1846-1901
  • ‘A Dazzling Living Picture’: A Study of the Influences on the Costumes at the Devonshire House  Ball
  • John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and Dress: The Later Female Portraits
  • The Influence of Anglomania on French Fashion during the 1780s
  • Posing in the Social Mirror: A Study of Dress and Identity in the Libertine Context of George Etherege’s ‘The Man of Mode’
  • The Self-fashioning of Lady Ottoline Morrell from 1902 to 1938


  • Impressions of Fashion: The Production and Reception of Printed Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, 1558-1603
  • Identity Crisis?: Female ‘Cross-Dressing’ in the 1920s
  • Fashion Travels: Exoticism in Fashion 1960 to Now
  •  Man Power: Displays of Masculinity in Fashion Photography of the 1980s and 1990s
  •  ‘Impertinent Vexations’: An Analysis of the English Seventeenth-Century Shoe Rose
  • Clothing the Screen: The Representation of Seventeenth-Century Dress in British Film

Supervised by Katie Scott:


  • Disentangling Porcelain: Textile Motifs as Decoration on Sèvres Porcelain
  • From the Four Corners of the World to the Four Corners of a Chessboard: How the Colonial Trade Influenced the Image of the Black in Eighteenth-Century French Decorative Arts
  • Defining Bijoux: From Natural Curiosity to Corporeal Exoticism in Eighteenth-Century French Jewellery
  • Lazare Duvaux’s ‘Livre Journal’: An Analysis of Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain Consumption


  • Women Unravelled: Issues of Identity in Portraits of Women with Handwork in Eighteenth-Century France
  • From Medici to Bourbon: The Formulation of Taste and the Evolution of a Vanderbilt Style
  • Light in the Rococo Interior
  • Edward Wortley  Montagu ’Son of the Sultan’, a Lesson in Transgression: Representations of an Eighteenth-century Eccentric
  • Les Ficelles des Mélodrames: Explaining Particularities and Peculiarities in the Tapestry Collection of the Comte de Toulouse


  • The ‘Portrait en Chasseur’ in Eighteenth-Century France: The Anatomy of a Genre
  • China at the Edge of the World: Making Space for Chinoiserie in the Interiors of Robert Adam
  • Acting the Part: ‘Role Portraiture’ and Theatrical Identity in Eighteenth-Century France

Supervised by David Solkin:


  • Putting China in its Place: Costume and Imperial Ideology in William Alexander’s ‘The Costume of China’
  • At the Shrine of the Pretty Brown Girl: John Webber’s Poedua, Daughter of Oree
  • Displays of Ambition: Benjamin West’s ‘Lord Clive Receiving the Grant of the Diwani’


  • A Soft Imperial Snore
  • Bringing Scotland into the Fold: The Highland Military Figure and the Evolution of British Imperial Identity

Supervised by Christine Stevenson:


  • John Carr: Designs for a Modern Countryside
  • Poetic Architecture in the Seventeenth Century: Country Houses in Print
  • The Gothic Viewing Platform in the Eighteenth-Century English Landscape Garden
  • The Unlabelled Space: Transition and the Subject in Wren’s Architecture
  • ‘A College for the Mission?’ Codrington College Barbados (1710-1745)
  • Memorialisation, Representation, Realisation: James Gibbs’ Radcliffe Camera (1712-1752)


  • St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner: Architecture and Self-Representation
  • Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers: Uncovering Similarities between Rival Architects
  • Somerset House and the Navy
  • The Governor-Architect and the Planning of the London Foundling Hospital
  • The West India Docks: Sublimity, Utility, and Security
  • George Dance’s Guildhall Façade 1788-89


  • William Henry Playfair and the Ideal of the Picturesque
  • The Eighteenth-Century Assembly Rooms of Bath: Plans for Politeness
  • George IV: Britain’s Bourbon France and the Interior Decoration at Carlton House and Windsor Castle
  • Brick Houses of the 1630s in the South of England: Glorifying the Bricklayer’s Craft


  • The Adelphi Terrace: Masterpiece or Monumental Puff? The Reputation of a Lost Building on the Thames

Supervised by Joanna Woodall:


  • Looking at the Quack in Seventeenth-Century Netherlandish Art
  • Pregnancy in Vermeer’s Art: Studies on the Ambivalence between the ‘Masculine’ and the ‘Feminine’ Beholder
  • Undefining ‘Merry Companies’: Broadening the Interpretation of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Merry Company Scenes
  • Boundaries, Confinement and Silence: Ten Versions of Frans Hals’s ‘Malle Babbe’
  • Case Notes: Comprehending Knowledge in Cornelius Johnson’s ‘Portrait of a Physician (1637)


  • Spanish versus Creole: Locating the Hybrid Space in Luis de Mena’s  Casta Painting
  • Anthony van Dyck’s ‘Portrait of Venetia Stanley, Lady Digby on her Deathbed’: An Example of Seventeenth-Century Posthumous Portraiture
  • Velázquez: Blood, Paint and Vision in Seville
  • ‘Secundum Naturam Vivere’: Rubens and the Stoic Landscape


  • Simon Vouet, Between ‘Tableau’ and ‘Ornement’
  • Arcadia as a Site for Creativity: The Case of Claude’s Little Draughtsmen
  • The Ambivalent Gaze: Authorial ‘Self-Projection’  in the Paintings of Michael Sweerts
  • Opening the Doors of the Temple of Janus: The Generative ‘Medusa’ and Rubens’ Red-Blooded Art
  • Inverted and Reversed: Eye, Image and Printmaking in Rembrandt’s Landscapes and Portraits
  • The Reworked Drawings of Peter Paul Rubens

Titles of research students (MPhil/PhD) currently registered

(please note that only those students who have agreed to have their details disclosed are included in this list)
Supervised by Professor Aileen Ribeiro
Clare BACKHOUSE: Seventeenth-Century Print and Dress
Anna KIRK: The Female Doppelgänger in Victorian Art and Dress c. 1850-1899

Supervised by Dr Sheila McTighe
Danielle CARRABINO: “Fuggì Sconosciuto in Sicilia”: Caravaggio and Sicily
Maria LOPEZ-FANJUL: Collecting Italian Drawings in Seventeenth-Century Spain
Edward PAYNE: Violence and Corporality in the Art of Jusepe de Ribera

Supervised by Dr Katie Scott 
Abigail PRICE: From Antiquario delle Statue to Museo Pio-Clementino: The Enlightening of the Pope’s Antiquities (co-supervised by Dr. Peter Stewart)
Hannah WILLIAMS: Self-Portraiture and Artistic Identity in Eighteenth Century France

Supervised by Professor David Solkin
Kate GRANDJOUAN: Close Encounters: French Identities in British Visual Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century
Andrey SHABANOV: Peredvizhniki: The Social History of an Artists’ Movement
Philippa SIMPSON: The Expansion of the London Art Market 1793-1815
Nicola TYSON: Caricature as Social Practice in 18th Century England

Supervised by Dr Christine Stevenson
Owen HOPKINS: Narratives in Space: Historicism in Early Eighteenth-Century English Architecture
Robert HRADSKY: The Architectural Development of the Inns of Court, 1660-1837
Zita KONIALIDIS: The Cathedral of Saint Sophia, London (co-supervised by Robin Cormack)
Emily MANN: “To Have and to Hold”: English Colonial Architecture in the Seventeenth Century
Philippa POTTS: “Tapers to Candles”: Stuart Ambassadors in English Garden History
Harriet SANDVALL: Early English Masonic Halls, 1770-1830: Architecture and Interior Design

Supervised by Dr Joanna Woodall
Deborah BABBAGE: Rembrandt’s Pendant Marriage Portraits
Rodrigo CANETE: Veláquez’ Works in Seville and Madrid (co-supervised by Rose Marie San Juan, UCL)
Hope WALKER: Hans Eworth: Art in Post-Holbein Englan

Recently Completed PhDs

Jane HAMILTON: Gian Paolo Panini: Antiquity, Illusion and the Imagination

Anthony HOTSON: Late Stuart Moneyed Men and their Patronage of Sculpture and Architecture

Michael HALL: Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879): The Biography of a Collector of Paintings
Alicia WEISBERG-ROBERTS: Antoine Watteau and the Cultural Value of Drawing in Eighteenth-Century France

Lucy CUTLER: Jan Brueghel I and Federico Borromeo: The Artist, the Court and the Republic of Letters
Lucy DAVIS: The Bacchic Paintings of Peter Paul Rubens
Opher MANSOUR: Offensive Images: Censure and Censorship in Rome under Clement VIII (1592-1605)
Karen SERRES: Models and Motifs: Carravaggesque Iconography in Seicento Rome

Matthew HARGRAVES: The Society of Artists of Great Britain
Sean HIGGINS: Thomas Macklin’s Poets’ Gallery: Consuming the Sister-arts in Late Eighteenth-Century London
Sarah MONKS: Marine Art and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1739-1795

Diane DUGGAN: The Architectural Patronage of Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford 1628-1638
Patricia SMITH: Interior Planning in the English Country House, 1660-1735: Spatial Theory and Practice
Anne THACKRAY: The ‘Mays’ of Notre-Dame, Paris

Erin GRIFFEY: The Artist’s Roles: Seventeenth-Century Netherlandish Artists and their Self-Representations
Sophie WHITE: Trading Identities: Cultures of Consumption in French Colonial Louisiana

Victoria COLTMAN: Fabricating the Antique: Neoclassicism in England c1780-1835
Karin WOLFE: The Patronage of Cardinal Antonio Barberini the Younger (1608-1671)

David JACQUES: The Grand Manner: Changing Style in Garden Design, 1660-1775
Martin MYRONE: Body-Building: British Historical Artists in London and Rome and the
Remaking of the Heroic Ideal, 1760-1800
Rachel PERRY: Francois-Joseph Belanger, Architect (1744-1818)
Roger WOODLEY: Robert Mylne (1733-1811): The Bridge Between Architecture and Engineering

Kerry BRISTOL: James ‘Athenian’ Stuart (1713-1788)
Andrew KENNEDY:  British Topographical Print Series in their Social and Economic Context, c1720-1840

Gregory SMITH: Competing Professional Interests and the Watercolour Medium, 1795-1824: The Discourse of Progress and Its Opposition

Simon BRADLEY: The Gothic Revival and the Church of England 1790-1840
Gabriele FINALDI: Aspects of the Life and Work of Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652)
Mark HALLETT: The Spectacle of Difference: Graphic Satire and Urban Culture in London, 1700-1751
Anthony HALLIDAY: French Portraiture under the ‘Directoire’ and the ‘Consulat’
Andrew HOPKINS: Baldassare Longhena, Santa Maria Della Salute and the Influence of Ducal Ceremony on Architectural Design

Emma BARKER: Greuze and the Painting of Sentiment: The Family in French Art 1755-c1785
Richard BERESFORD: Domestic Interior Decoration in Paris, 1630-1660: A Catalogue Based on Written Sources
John LOUGHMAN: Paintings in the Public and Private Domain: Institutional and Individual Collecting at Dordrecht 1620-1749

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