Dr Jessica Barker

Senior Lecturer in Medieval Art History

Jessica Barker is a specialist in medieval art, with a particular emphasis on sculpture. She studied at the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she was subsequently Henry Moore Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined The Courtauld in 2018, after two years as a lecturer in world art at the University of East Anglia.

Jessica’s research ranges across northern Europe and the Iberian peninsular, addressing questions of the macabre, gender, materiality and the body. Her prize-winning monograph, Stone Fidelity: Marriage and Emotion in Medieval Tomb Sculpture, based on work from her doctoral thesis, explores the intersection of love and death in funerary art. She is the co-editor of Revisiting the Monument. Fifty Years Since Panofsky’s Tomb Sculpture, a collection of essays addressing Erwin Panofsky’s scholarship on tomb sculpture. She has published widely on death and commemoration, with articles in journals including Art History, The Burlington Magazine, Gesta, and The Sculpture Journal.

Forthcoming publications include an article in Art Bulletin on “Maintenance Work and the Long Life of Materials in Late-Medieval Art,” as well as two essays on the artistic patronage of Iberian noblewomen in England. Her current projects include co-curating an exhibition exploring measurement and regulation in medieval and contemporary art, entitled The Rule: Shaping Lives, Medieval and Modern, which will open at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in 2026. She is also working on a research project investigating the lives and afterlives of the padrões, columns erected on the coast of West Africa by Portuguese navigators.

PhD Supervision


Chloe Kellow (with Prof. Joanna Cannon): A Cumulative Work of Art: The Silver Altar of Saint James, Pistoia, (1287-1456) Expanded, Reconfigured, Restaged.

Florence Eccleston: The Iconography and Perception of Sin in Late Medieval English Wall Paintings.

Sophia Adams: Measurement Relics in Late Medieval Devotion.

stone fidelity book cover, two hands holding each other, close up of a sculpture



Winner of the 2021 prize for best single- or dual-authored book on any topic in medieval art from the International Centre of Medieval Art.

Winner of the 2022 prize for exemplary scholarship (pre-1600) from the Historians of British Art



Book Chapters

Catalogue Essays

  • “Alabaster as a Material for Funerary Monuments.” In Alabaster Sculpture in Europe, 1300-1650, ed. Marjan Debaene (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022)

Other current/ongoing professional activities

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
  • Council Member, British Archaeological Association
  • Editorial board, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture book series (Brepols)