Saskia Rubin

PhD student

Thesis title: Intersections between literature and the visual arts under Cardinal Richelieu and his ministers

Supervisors: Prof. Genevieve Warwick
Dr Stephen Whiteman

Funded by Courtauld Scholarship / Stavros Niarchos Foundation

My research will highlight the involvement of writers from the Académie française in the visual culture of their time. The institution, formalised in 1635 but active some years prior, regulated French publications along lines of linguistic prowess as well as religious and political loyalty. At its helm were Cardinal Richelieu and Chancellor Pierre Séguier, whose commissions of art and literature (including illustrated books) served a political agenda. Artists in their employ, such as Philippe de Champaigne and Simon Vouet, worked with poets and playwrights to create schemes vaunting the power and morality of Louis XIII and his ministers. Studies of artistic and literary exchange of the period primarily centre on the painter Nicolas Poussin or the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (est. 1648). Focusing on the artworks decorating ministerial homes, as well as the illustrations for state-sponsored texts, this research will reveal a new dimension to the sisterhood of literature and art in 1630s Paris. Its chief contribution will be to unpack the allegorical articulation of political aspiration, French identity and masculinity across medial boundaries.


  • 2014–15 MA History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2013–14 Graduate Diploma in History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2008–11 BA Hons Music, The University of Cambridge

Prizes and Awards

  • 2017: The Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize (£1000 and the opportunity to present a 1-hour prize lecture on my winning paper: ‘Simon Vouet, Claude Mellan and the Science of Superficiality’)
  • 2015: Director’s commendation for an outstanding dissertation (‘Craft Fit for Contemplation: The Collaborative Prints of Simon Vouet and Claude Mellan, 1624–27’)
  • 2014: Director’s commendation for an outstanding dissertation (‘Domine, Quo Vadis? Annibale Carracci Approaches an Old Theme Anew’)


  • ‘Allegory and Social Mores in Abraham Bosse’s L’Hyver’The Seventeenth Century, Vol. 37, No. 4 (2022): 621–53.
  • Domine, Quo Vadis? Annibale Carracci Approaches an Old Theme Anew’. Artibus et Historiae, No. 77 (2018): 231–53.
  • ‘Galileo and Art’. In Visions and Visionaries, ex. cat. for The Guildhall Art Gallery, London, 11 December 2018 – 30 April 2019, 68–87.
  • ‘Review: The Image of the Black in Western Art,    Vol. 3′. Print Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4 (December, 2016): 446–49.
  •  ‘Biographies’. In Unseen London, Paris, New York: Photographs by Wolf Suschitzky, Dorothy Bohm and Neil Libbert, edited by Katy Barron, 102–07. London: Ben Uri Gallery, 2016.

Papers and Lectures

  • 9 March 2019: ‘Reflections of the New Science: The Roman Prints of Claude Mellan and Simon Vouet, 1624–27’, presented at Birkbeck, University of London, as part of the interdisciplinary conference Mirror, Mirror: Perceptions, Deceptions, and Reflections in Time
  • 15 June 2018: ‘Galileo and Art’, presented at the Museum of the Order of St John, London, in conjunction with the exhibition TechnoMedioevo: Age of Future Reloaded
  • 24 January 2018: ‘Technical and historical approaches to exploring the Valence House portrait of Susannah Fanshawe (1698–1759)’, co-presented with Olivia Stoddart at Valence House Museum, Dagenham, as part of an event organised by the National Portrait Gallery’s Understanding British Portraits professional network

Other Professional and Academic Activity

  • October 2018–October 2021: Print Room Assistant at The Courtauld Gallery
  • March–June 2018: Michael Bromberg Fellow at The British Museum
  • November 2017–June 2018: Painting Pairs: Art History and Technical Study, a scheme run by the Sackler Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • May 2016–present: Paintings researcher at Ben Elwes Fine Art (covering works by an anonymous abolitionist painter, Benjamin West, Odilon Redon, Jules Pascin)