Karen Serres - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Karen Serres

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Dr Karen Serres

Curator of Paintings

Karen Serres received her training in art history and museum studies at the Ecole du Louvre (1997) and the Sorbonne (1998) in Paris. She completed her MA (1999) and PhD (2004) at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where her research focused on French and Italian Baroque painting.

She was then appointed Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, working on both painting and sculpture. This led to her appointment as Robert H. Smith Research Curator in the Sculpture Department of that institution. In 2009, she was named the Nina and Lee Griggs Associate Curator of European Art at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. She returned to the Courtauld as Schroder Foundation Curator of Paintings in September 2012.

Current and recent exhibitions and projects

Karen is currently preparing an exhibition on Soutine’s Portraits: Waiters, Cooks and Bellhops, opening in October 2017. It examines the series of striking portraits of hotel and restaurant personnel executed by the Paris-based Russian painter Chaim Soutine in the 1920s.

She recently curated Bruegel in Black and White. Three Grisailles Reunited (2016); Bridget Riley. Learning from Seurat (2015-6); Unfinished… Works from The Courtauld Collection (2015) and Collecting Gauguin. Samuel Courtauld in the ‘20s (2013).

The Gallery’s permanent collection of paintings before 1900 is the object of an ongoing, long-term research project, with the aim of producing a scholarly catalogue online.

Research interests

French and Italian Baroque painting
Renaissance bronzes
History of taste and of collecting
Relationship between art history and conservation research

Recent publications

Exhibition catalogues
Bruegel in Black and White. Three Grisailles Reunited, The Courtauld Gallery, 2016
Bridget Riley. Learning from Seurat, with Barnaby Wright, The Courtauld Gallery, 2015 (main essay) 
Collecting Gauguin. Samuel Courtauld in the ‘20s, The Courtauld Gallery, 2013

‘Seurat’s Hidden Self-Portrait’, with Aviva Burnstock, The Burlington Magazine, April 2014, pp. 240-242
‘Ary Scheffer’s “The Retreat of Napoleon’s Army from Russia in 1812”’, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin, 2012, pp. 107-111
‘L’Allégorie chez Vouet et Valentin: paradoxe et propagande dans le cercle des Barberini’, in Olivier Bonfait and Hélène Rousteau-Chambon eds, Simon Vouet en Italie, Presses Universitaires de Rennes and Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, 2011, pp. 151-167

Edited publications
Francis Haskell, The King’s Pictures. The Formation and Dispersal of the Collections of Charles I and his Courtiers, New Haven and London, 2013 (completed, updated, edited and introduced)

Bronze, Boxwood and Ivory in the Robert H. Smith Collection of Renaissance Sculpture. A Second Supplement to the Catalogue Volume ‘Art of the Renaissance Bronze 1500-1650’, with Eike D. Schmidt et al., London (The Burlington Magazine), 2016

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