BA,  MA,  PhD (Cambridge)  

Contact details

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN

+44 (0)20 7848 2687

Professor Deborah Swallow
Deborah Swallow came to The Courtauld as its Director in 2004 after a museum career, firstly at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology  and  then at the Victoria and Albert Museum where she was  the Keeper of the Asian Department  and Director of Collections.  After taking a first degree in English literature, a year teaching in India gave her a deep interest in the arts, culture and religion of the Subcontinent, initially explored through the discipline of  social anthropology (the discipline of her PhD) and subsequently as a curator within the context of an art museum.  As head of the Indian Department at the V&A, Deborah oversaw the creation of the Nehru Gallery of Art and a series of major exhibitions on the arts of different regions and communities of the Subcontinent and established close working relationships both with the South Asian communities in the UK and colleagues and institutions in the Subcontinent.  She continues to work on issues relating to the arts and cultural heritage in contemporary India.  

Research Interests

  • Indian art c.1850 to the present
  • Indian textile history
  • Museums and heritage in colonial and post-colonial India


  • Assessing and Managing Risk: Himalayan Wall Paintings
  • In the shadow of swadeshi: modernist musings in the work of Gaganendranath Tagore, Sunil Janah and Nasreen Mohamedi


 ‘Production and control in the Indian garment export industry’ in  From Craft to Industry: the Ethnography of Proto-industrial Cloth Production, E N Goody ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010,  1982,  133-165

‘The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms: Collaborating with a Community’, (with Eithne Nightingale), in Museums and Source Communities, Laura Peers and Alison K Brown, eds., Routledge, London , 2003, 55 -71

‘The Victoria & Albert Museum and its Asian Collections’, in Louis Mezin (ed), The Heritage of the East India Companies in European Museums and Public Collections, Cahiers de la Compagnie des Indes, no 5/6, Port Louis , 2000

‘The India Museum and the British-Indian textile trade in the late nineteenth century’, Textile History, 30 (1), 1999,  29-45

‘Colonial Architecture, international exhibitions and official patronage of the Indian artisan’ in Tim Barringer and Tom Flynn eds., Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum, Routledge, London, 52-67

‘Curzon’s ivory chairs at Kedleston: a puzzle of patronage in Anglo-Indian furniture’ with Amin Jaffer, Apollo, April, 1998,  35-39

The Arts of India: 1550-1900 (edited with John Guy) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1990



India; Textiles; Cloth; Colonialism; Post-colonialism; Hinduism; Craft; Artisan; Museum