Sheila McTighe - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Sheila McTighe

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Dr Sheila McTighe

Senior Lecturer in 17th-century Art - Head of Examinations
A photograph of Sheila McTighe

Sheila McTighe took her PhD at Yale University with a thesis on Nicolas Poussin and libertinage, which became the subject of her first book. She taught subsequently at Cornell and Columbia Universities before arriving at The Courtauld in 1998. Her interests then took her toward the study of 17th century naturalism and the depiction of everyday life. This in turn led to fascination with 17th-century Italian and French prints and with print culture more broadly. She enjoys being able to teach in front of works of art in London’s museum collections, and travelling with students to study paintings and prints in Paris and Rome.

PhD Supervision


  • Naomi Lebens, ‘Prints in Play: Printed Playing Cards, Board Games, Fans, Fire Screens, Targets, Masks and the Fashioning of Social Roles in Early Modern Europe’
  • Chloe Gilling, ‘The Prints of Agostino Carracci and his Role as Inventor in the Reform of the Arts’

Recently completed

  • Giulia Martina Weston, ‘Niccolò Tornioli: the Life and Times of a Sienese Painter in 17th-century. Rome’, 2015
  • Anita Sganzerla, ‘Invention and Erudition in the Art of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, case studies 1645-55’, 2014
  • Edward Payne, ‘Violence and Corporeality in the Art ofJusepe Ribera’, 2013
  • Ketty Gottardo, ‘The Barberini and their Use of the Printed Image’, 2012
  • Maria Lopez-Fanjul Diez del Corral, ‘Collecting Italian Drawings in 17th –c. Spain: the Collection of the Marques del Carpio’, 2011
  • Michela Pittaluga, ‘Collecting and Social Status: Venetian Presence in Genoese Collections, 1523-1656’, 2011
  • Danielle Carrabino, ‘Ascondersi per la Sicilia: Caravaggio in Sicily’, 2010
  • Jane Hamilton, ‘Gian Paolo Panini: Antiquity, Illusion, and the Imagination’, 2003
  • Karen Serres, ‘Models and Motifs: Caravaggesque Iconography in Seicento Rome’, 2004

Research interests

  • The art and letters of Nicolas Poussin
  • Caravaggio and Caravaggism
  • Jacques Callot and 17th-century print culture
  • Reception theory and reception history
  • Artistic practice and the techniques of painting and printmaking
  • Early modern collecting and the arts of memory
  • Word and image studies, the ut pictura poesis tradition

Forthcoming publications


  • The Absent Eyewitness: Depicting “From Life” in 17th-century Italy and France (Ashgate Press)

Recent publications


  • The Imaginary Everyday: Genre Painting and Prints in Italy and France, 1580-1670, New York and Pittsburgh, The Bownes Library, 2007

Essays, articles and reviews

  • ‘A New Plea for Poussin as a Painter’ in Kermes: Rivista del Ristauro (March 2015)
  • ‘Poussin and the Modes of Music’ Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture (2013)
  • ‘The Old Woman as Art Critic: Speech and Silence in Response to the Passions, from Annibale Carracci to Denis Diderot’ Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 71, (2008) 239-260
  • ‘Foods and the Body in Italian Genre Paintings, about 1580: Campi, Passarotti, Carracci’ The Art Bulletin 86 (2004) 301-323

Recent/major grants

  • Leverhulme 3-year Senior Research Fellowship, 2005-2008
  • AHRC Collaborative PhD award with the British Museum Dept. of Prints and Drawings, 2012-2015, to co-supervise with Dr. Mark McDonald the PhD research of Naomi Lebens

Other current/ongoing professional activities

  • Editorial board of the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
  • Jury for selection of Bourse André Chastel, Académie Française de Rome 2014
  • Member of the Renaissance Society of America, College Art Association, and the Art Historians’ Association

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