Professor Caroline Arscott

Professor Emerita

Caroline Arscott lectured at The Courtauld from 1988-2022: studying the Victorian art world with an initial focus on modern life painting in the 1840s and 1850s, subsequent work on the pre-Victorian period (in relation to urban topography) and on the late Victorian period (in relation to the Aesthetic Movement). She was the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Art History at The Courtauld.  Her publications include articles on a wide range of Victorian artists including William Holman Hunt, Gibson, Millais, Leighton, Poynter, Whistler, Sickert, Tissot, Fildes, Scharf and Frith. She collaborated with Katie Scott in the publication of essays on art and sexuality, Manifestations of Venus (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000). In 2008 she published William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings, (Yale University Press, New Haven and London). This book addresses technical features of body building, the armaments industry, horticulture, angling and Victorian tattooing in its discussion of the work of Morris and Burne-Jones. She has an interest in scientific thought and technologies of the nineteenth century and was involved in a research collaboration between The Courtauld and University of California, Caltech on art and scientific modelling (Modeling Modelling) and led a project with King’s College, London and University College London on art, literature and communications technologies of the Victorian period (Scrambled Messages: The Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900),  2013-2018.  She is developing a collaborative project on the 1860’s Idyll in Victorian art and literature.

She was a member of the Editorial Board of the Oxford Art Journal from 1998-2008 and continues to serve as Advisory Editor. Caroline Arscott was also local UK editor (2009-2014) for the RIHA Journal published by the international organisation Research Institutes in the History of Art .  She was a member of the Council of the Paul Mellon Centre Advisory Council (2009-2013).  From 2009 until 2014 she was Head of Research at The Courtauld with responsibility for the Research Forum programme of activities and for The Courtauld’s research strategy and Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission.  She was (founding) Series Editor for Courtauld Books Online (2010-14).  She was Senior Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for the Study of British Art in 2014-15, undertaking research on art and science in the 1870s.  From 2021 she serves on Board of Directors of the Historians of British Art, affiliate society of the US College Art Association.

PhD Supervision


  • Laura Franchetti, ‘Utterances of Physical Phenomena’: The Work of Frederic Leighton & Victorian Physics’


Recently completed

  •  Emma Merkling, ‘Imponderable: Physics, Mathematics, and Spirit in Evelyn De Morgan’s Art and Automatic Writings, 1883–1919’
  • Natalie Hume, ‘The Graphic Representation of America in Britain, 1865–1900’
  • Thomas Hughes, ‘The language of art writing in the later nineteenth century’
  • Carey Gibbons, ‘Victorian Illustration: Arthur Hughes and Frederick Sandys’
  • Lily Foster, ‘Painting the Modern Apartment: Domestic Interiors by Harold Gilman and Edouard Vuillard, 1910-1919’
  • Marion Richards, ‘Salon Criticism of French Landscape Painting, 1855-1867’
  • Anna Kirk, ‘”Composed of the same materials” : like-dressing and the dress of the doppelgänger in Victorian art and culture, c.1855 – c.1885’
  • Katie Faukner, ‘The Wrapped Body in the New Sculpture Movement (1880-1900)’
  • Freya Roo Gunzi, ‘Stanhope A. Forbes: Constructing Newlyn, 1885-1911’
  • Esmé Whittaker, ‘The Arts and Crafts house in the Lake District: buildings, landscapes and communities’
  • Ayla Lepine, ‘Sacred beauty : George Frederick Bodley’s designs for Oxford and Cambridge, 1858-1907’
  • Keren Hammerschlag, ‘Death and violence in the art of Frederic Leighton’
  • Lucetta Johnson, ‘Beyond the hairline : the representation of hair in the work of Gabriel Dante Rossetti’

Selected publications

Books, Exhibition Catalogues

  • C. Arscott and K. Scott (eds), Manifestations of Venus: Essays on Art and Sexuality, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000. Joint editor of the volume, joint author of the first chapter ‘Introducing Venus’, pp. 1-23 and sole author of chapter 6, ‘Venus as Dominatrix: nineteenth-century artists and their creations’, pp. 109-125 (on John Gibson and Edward Burne-Jones).
  • Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris: Interlacings, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2008.
  • Victorians Decoded: Art and Telegraphy, exhibition catalogue, edited by Caroline Arscott and Clare Pettitt (with contributions by: Caroline Arscott; Anne Chapman; Natalie Hume; Mark Miodownik; Cassie Newland; Clare Pettitt and Rai Stather),The Courtauld Institute of Art, London and King’s College, London 2016, ISBN: 987-1-907485-053  Open access   for the exhibition Victorians Decoded: Art and Telegraphy held at The Guildhall Art Gallery, London, from 20th September 2016 to 22nd January 2017, CA lead curator Clare Pettitt co-curator.        Includes: Caroline Arscott and Clare Pettitt, ‘Introduction’; Caroline Arscott, ‘Electrifying the Literal: Topham’s Rescued from the Plague‘; Caroline Arscott, ‘Grim Spectres: Logsdail’s The Ninth of November, 1888‘; and Caroline Arscott, ‘Engineering and Oratorios: Poynter’s Israel in Egypt’.

Essays and articles

  • ‘Pattern: Textiles and Wallpaper’ for Marcus Waithe, ed, The Cambridge Companion to William Morris, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • With Clare Pettitt, ‘Multicolour as Disavowal: the Racial Politics of the Nineteenth-Century Idyll’ in Thomas Hughes and Emma Merkling (eds), The Victorian Idyll, 1860–1900, Routledge, forthcoming.
  • Participation in Folded Life: Talking Textile Politics web project co-ordinated by Grant Watson (RCA) with CA interview and segment on William Morris, ‘Brother Rabbit’ design for printed textile, registered 1882. Open access website Folded Life ( .  CA contribution 2021.
  • ‘Whistler: Veiling the Everyday’ in Andre Dombrowski (ed.), A Companion to Impressionism, Wiley-Blackwell, 2021, pp. 234-50.
  • ‘Whistler and Memory’ in Laura Bieger, Joshua Shannon and Jason Weems (eds), Humans, Terra Foundation Essays Vol. 6., Terra Foundation, University of Chicago, 2021.
  • ‘William Morris: the poetics of indigo discharge printing’, Nonsite #35 (9 May 2021), unpaginated, open access.
  • With Clare Pettitt, ‘Signal Markings in Victorian Miscellanies’, in Anne Chapman and Natalie Hume (eds), Coding and Representation from the Nineteenth Century to the Present: Scrambled Messages, New York and London: Routledge, 2021, pp. 137-160.
  • ‘Cloud Perspective’ in Ruskin, Turner and the Storm Cloud, exhibition catalogue, York Art Gallery/ Abbot Hall, Kendal 2019, pp. 80-83.
  • ‘Ramsgate Sands’ in William Powell Frith: The People’s Painter, exhibition catalogue, Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, 2019, pp. 41-55.
  • ‘Elasticity and Sculptural Form’ in Malcolm Baker and Andrew Hemingway (eds), Art as Worldmaking: Critical Essays on Realism and Naturalism, Manchester University Press, 2018.
  • ‘Quixotic Projects: Humanities Research and Public Funding in the United Kingdom’, in David Breslin and Darby English (eds), Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities, (Clark Studies in the Visual Arts), Williamstown, Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, 2016, pp. 39-47, ISBN 978-0-300-21875-6.
  • ‘Whistler and Whiteness’, in Charlotte Ribeyrol (ed.), The Colours of the Past in Victorian England, Bern: Peter Lang, 2016, pp. 47-70, ISBN 978-3-0343-1974-4 (print); ISBN 978-3-0353-0827-3 (e-book)
  • Morris Carpets’, RIHA Journal 0089, Special Issue When Art History Meets Design History (27 March 2014), edited by Anne Puetz and Glenn Adamson, unpaginated, open access.
  • ‘William Morris, Ornament and the Coordinates of the Body’, in Warren Carter, Barnaby Haran and Frederic J. Schwartz (eds), ReNew Marxist Art History, Art/Books, London 2014, pp. 246-56.
  • Subject and Object in Whistler: the Context of Physiological Aesthetics’, in Lee Glazer and Linda Merrill (eds), Palaces of Art: Whistler and the Art Worlds of Aestheticism, Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, 2013, pp. 55-66, open access.
  • ‘William Morris’s Tapestry: Metamorphosis and Prophecy in The Woodpecker”, in Art History, C. Hunter and F. Lucchini (eds), Special Issue: The Clever Object, 36:1, June 2013, pp. 608-25.
  • ‘George Scharf and the Archaeology of the Modern’ in George Scharf: From the Regency Street to the Modern Metropolis, exhibition catalogue, London, John Soane Museum, 2009, pp. 26-41.
  • Walter Sickert and Roger Fry: “Alight Here for Whiteley’s”’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 75th Anniversary Issue, 2008, pp. 295-314.
  • Mutability and Deformity: Models of the Body and the Art of Edward Burne-Jones’, Nineteen: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century , Special Issue: Minds, Bodies, Machines, Issue 7 (October 2008), open access.
  • ‘William Powell Frith’s The Railway Station: Classification and the Crowd’, in William Powell Frith, exhibition catalogue, London, Guildhall Art Gallery, November 2006, pp. 79-93
  • ‘Stenographic Notation: Whistler’s Etchings of Venice’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 29, no. 3, 2006, pp. 371-393.
  • ‘William Morris: Decoration and Materialism’ in Andrew Hemingway (ed.), Marxism and the History of Art: From William Morris to the New Left, Pluto Press, London, Ann Arbor, MI, 2006, pp. 9-27.
  • ‘Four Walls: Morris and Ornament’, in Dave Mabb, William Morris, with essays by Caroline Arscott and Steve Edwards, exhibition catalogue, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 2004, pp. 58-69.
  • ‘Victorian Representations of Childhood’ in Journal of Victorian Culture, vol. 9, no. 1, spring 2004, pp. 96-107: contribution to cluster of articles ‘Roundtable: Victorian Children and Childhood’ alongside contributions by Hugh Cunningham and Sally Shuttleworth. This article focuses on Millais.
  • ‘The sculptural logic of Burne-Jones’s stained glass’ in D. Getsy (ed.), Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, c. 1880-1930, Aldershot, Ashgate/ Scolar, 2004, pp. 39-62.
  • ‘Response to Amelia Jones’s Body and Technology Forum’, Art Journal, vol. 60, no. 2, summer 2001, pp. 4-5.
  • ‘Representations of the Victorian City’ in M. Daunton, (ed.), Cambridge Urban History of Britain: Volume Three (1840-1950), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 811-32.
  • ‘Convict Labour: Masking and Interchangeability in Victorian Prison Scenes’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 23, no. 2, 2000, pp. 119-42 (on Frith).
  • ‘Luke Fildes: from Graphic to Academic’ in Colin Trodd and Rafael Cardoso Denis (eds), Art and the Academy in the Nineteenth Century, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000, pp. 102-16.
  • ‘Poynter and the arty’  in E. Prettejohn (ed.), After the Pre-Raphaelites: Art and Aestheticism in Victorian England, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1999, pp. 135-51.
  • ‘The invisible and the blind in Tissot’s social recitals’, in K. Lochnan (ed.) Seductive Surfaces: the Art of Tissot, Paul Mellon Centre and Yale Centre for British Art (Studies in British art 6), London and New Haven, 1999, pp. 53-76.
  • ‘Leighton: the Artist as Artificer’, in E. Prettejohn (ed.), Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity, Paul Mellon Centre and Yale Centre for British Art, London and New Haven, 1999, pp. 3-17.
  • Ramsgate Sands, Modern Life and the Shoring-Up of Narrative’ in B. Allen (ed.), Towards A Modern Art World, Paul Mellon Centre and Yale Center for British Art, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1995, pp.157-168.
  • ‘Sentimentality in Victorian Paintings’ in G. Waterfield (ed.), Art for the People, exhibition catalogue, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 1994, pp. 64-81.
  • ‘”Cultivated Capital”: patronage and art in nineteenth-century Manchester and Leeds’ (written jointly with J.Wolff) in G.Marsden (ed.), Victorian Values, Longman, London, 1990, pp. 35-46.
  • ‘Victorian Development and Images of the Past’, in M. Chase and C. Shaw (eds), The Imagined Past: History and Nostalgia, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1989, pp. 47-67.
  • –Caroline Arscott, ‘Without distinction of party’: the Polytechnic Exhibitions in Leeds 1839-45′, pp. 135-58,    –Caroline Arscott, ‘Employer, husband, spectator: Thomas Fairbairn’s Commission of The Awakening Conscience‘, pp. 159-90,    –Caroline Arscott (with Griselda Pollock), ‘The partial view: the visual representation of the early nineteenth-century city’ , pp. 191-233.
  • above three are chapters in J.Wolff and J.Seed (eds), The Culture of Capital: Art, Power and the Nineteenth-Century Middle Class, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1988.



Recent/major grants

  • Principal Investigator, Scrambled Messages: The Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900, four-year collaborative AHRC-funded project with co-investigators Professor Clare Pettitt (English, King’s College London) and Professor Mark Miodownik (Engineering, Materials Science, University College London)
  • Senior Fellow Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA Sep-Nov 2014
  • Senior Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Study of British Art, London 2014-15

Other current/ongoing professional activities

  • Editorial Group Member, Oxford Art Journal (1998-2008), ongoing Advisory Editor.
  • Board of Directors, Historians of British Art, affiliate society of CAA, from 2021.
screenshot image of Caroline Arscott standing in a field