AB magna cum laude (Harvard College), MA with distinction (Courtauld, University of London), PhD (Yale University)

Contact details

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN

+44 (0)20 7848 2806


Professor David SolkinOne of the world’s leading authorities on the history of British art, David Solkin taught for eight years at the University of British Columbia before joining The Courtauld in 1986, where he was promoted from Lecturer to Reader in 1993, and to Professor in 2002; eight years later he succeeded the late John House as Walter H Annenberg Professor of the History of Art.  In the autumn of 2007 Solkin became the Institute’s first Dean and Deputy Director, a position that he anticipates occupying until the end of the academic year 2015-16.

In addition to numerous articles, he has published three important books: Richard Wilson: The Landscape of Reaction (London, Tate Gallery 1982); Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven & London, Yale University Press 1993); and Painting out of the Ordinary: Modernity and the Art of Everyday Life in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain (New Haven & London, Yale University Press 2008). David Solkin was the guest curator of the exhibition Art on The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836, which took place at The Courtauld Institute Gallery in 2001-2002. He also edited and co-authored the collection of essays that accompanied the exhibition, for which he was awarded the inaugural William M.B. Berger Prize for British art history. More recently Solkin curated Turner and the Masters, the hugely successful exhibition which opened at Tate Britain in the autumn of 2009, before going on to the Grand Palais in Paris and the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.

Under the aegis of a Senior Fellowship awarded by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Professor Solkin spent the academic year 2010-11 researching and writing the opening chapters of a major new survey of British art from c.1660 to 1832, for the Yale/Pelican History of Art series. As of the summer of 2014, this project is now approaching completion, with publication expected at some point in the next calendar year.


In 2014-16, Professor Solkin will be joined by Professor Mark Hallett, Director of Studies at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, as the co-teacher on an MA Special Option entitled 'Made in Britain: Forging a Visual Culture for a Nation at War, 1793-1815'.


David Solkin was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2012.

research interests

  • Eighteenth-century British drawing practices
  • The art of JMW Turner
  • British art c.1660-1840
  • Early Nineteenth-Century London as World City: Spaces and Representations


  • Philippa Simpson: Exposing the British School: The Rise of Old Master Exhibition Culture in London c1793-1825
  • Kate Grandjouan: Close Encounters: French Identities in English Graphic Satire, c1730-1790
  • Clare Backhouse: Seventeenth-Century Print and Dress: the Ballads of the Samuel Pepys Collection
  • Andrey Shabanov: The Peredvizhniki, or Wanderers: the social history of the artists’ movement in late nineteenth-century Russia
  • Thomas Ardill: Between God, Art, and Mammon: Religious Painting as Public Spectacle in Britain, c. 1800-1850 (in progress). This thesis is jointly supervised with Dr Martin Myrone of Tate Britain, under the aegis of the Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Selected Recent publications:

‘From Oddity to Odd Man Out: James Barry’s Nineteenth-Century Critical Legacy’, in Tom Dunne & William L. Pressly, eds., James Barry, 1741-1806: History Painter, Ashgate, Aldershot and Burlington, VT 2010, 11-22

Ed. and co-author, Turner and the Masters, Tate, London 2009, 240 pp. Translated into French as Turner et ses Peintres, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris 2010; and into Spanish as Turner y los Maestros, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2010. Shortlisted for William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History for 2009.

Painting out of the Ordinary: Modernity and the Art of Everyday Life in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain, Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2008, 270pp.

‘ ‘Conquest, usurpation, wealth, luxury, famine’: Mortimer’s Banditti and the Anxieties of Empire’, in Art and the British Empire,Timothy Barringer, Geoffrey Quilley and Douglas Fordham eds., Manchester University Press, Manchester 2006, 120-38

‘Joseph Wright of Derby and the Sublime Art of Labor’, Representations 83 (Summer 2003), pp.167-94 http://www.jstor.org/stable/3176134


eighteenth-century; nineteenth-century; British art; art and the everyday; JMW Turner; Richard Wilson; Genre painting; History of drawings; Public sphere; Exhibitions; Royal Academy