The Research Forum extends congratulations to Federico Botana on the recent publication of his book, The Works of Mercy in Italian Medieval Art (c.1050-1400) (Brepols, 2012). An official launch took place at the Courtauld in November 2012. Botana was the 2009 Andrew W Mellon Foundation/Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow (Activities Co-ordinator) and much of the research for his book took place during the fellowship year at the Research Forum. He is currently a researcher for the project ‘Manuscript Egerton: Histories and Genealogies’, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and based at the University of Reading.



Research Forum Visiting Professors


Visiting Professorships are offered to scholars whose work plays a defining role in the discipline of art history and who are willing to share their research with the Courtauld community formally (through lectures and seminars) and informally for a period of one to five weeks.



The Research Forum is pleased to announce that Eric Jorink and Peter Stallybrass have been appointed Research Forum Visiting Professors for the Academic Year 2012-13.


Eric Jorink studied History at the University of Groningen and subsequently spent a year at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2004 he gained his PhD cum laude at the University of Groningen with a thesis entitled ‘Het Boeck der Natuere’. Nederlandse geleerden en de wonderen van Gods Schepping, 1575-1715. Since 2001 Jorink has been working as a researcher at Huygens ING. At present he is working on the completion of two projects: a biography of the natural scientist Johannes Swammerdam (1637-1680) from Amsterdam, and a study of the image-forming of the English natural philosopher Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in the Republic of the Netherlands. The former project will result in a monograph, the latter in a number of articles. In addition, he is closely connected to the Digitaal Wetenschapshistorisch Centrum, DWC (Dutch History of Science Web Centre). At the same time he is section leader of the NWO-funded project ‘Circulation of knowledge and learned practices in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic’, which is being implemented by Huygens ING, the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) and the Descartes Centre of Utrecht University. In 2012-13 he will be co-teaching the MA special option on Visualizing Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands, c.1550-1730 with Joanna Woodall and Edward Wouk.


Peter Stallybrass is a visiting professor at The Courtauld in spring 2013. He is Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English and of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory. For the last fourteen years, he has directed the seminar on the History of Material Texts, and he co-edits the Material Texts series for the University of Pennsylvania Press. He has received fellowships from the American Council for Learned Societies, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Globe Theater, London, the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1999, he was chair of the English Institute at Harvard University, and he has been a Trustee of the Institute since 2002. Peter’s interest in the history of books began when he read Magreta de Grazia’s Shakespeare Verbatim, and, drawing upon many of the ideas in that book, he wrote with her “The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text” (Shakespeare Quarterly 1993). He also began to teach a graduate class that met in and drew upon the wealth of Philadelphia’s libraries, including the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Library, and the Free Library, in addition to the University’s libraries. In 2007, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society, this country’s first learned society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743.




The Research Forum is pleased to announce that Professors T.J. Clark, Boris Groys, Richard Meyer, Anne Wagner and Ursula Weekes have been appointed Research Forum Visiting Professors for the Academic Year 2010-11.


Anne Wagner

Anne Wagner is Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of California, Berkeley. She studied at Yale University and Brown University and has a PhD from Harvard University. Prior to her current role at Berkeley she was Associate Professor there from 1988 to 1991, and Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. She has lectured widely around the world and is the author of several books including: Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture; Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: Sculptor of the Second Empire; and Three Artists (Three Women): Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner, and O'Keeffe. She has also contributed to many exhibition catalogues and journals, including ArtForum, Sculpture Journal and October. Professor Wagner will be at the Courtauld in February 2011

TJ Clark

T.J. Clark, one of the world’s leading authorities on the history French art of the nineteenth century and modernism, is Professor Emeritus of Modern Art t the University of California, Berkeley and holds a PhD from The Courtauld Insitute of Art. His books include The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848-51, Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers, Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism, and more recently, The Sight of Death: An experiment in Art Writing (2006). Professor Clark will be at the Courtauld in May 2011.





Ursula Weekes was formerly Supervisor of the Print Room at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She gained her PhD in 2002 from the Courtauld Institute of Art (published as 'Early Engravers and their Public' by Brepols/Harvey Miller, 2004). From 2004 to 2010 she was based in Delhi as a Postdoctoral Commonwealth Fellow at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, and she also taught on Mughal and Renaissance art for the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is now in London, completing her book on 'The Great Mughals and the Art of Europe'.



Research Forum / Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor




Boris Groys (Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany) is the Research Forum/Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor for the academic year 2010-11. He will be teaching, in collaboration with Dr Sarah Wilson, the MA Global Conceptualism: The Last Avant-Garde or a New Beginning? This MA course seeks to redefine Conceptual art as the last coherent international avant-garde movement, and as a starting point for different contemporary artistic practices. Click here for additional information on the Research Forum/Andrew W. Mellon MA



With sponsorship from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Research Forum is pleased to announce a new two-year fellowship for the teaching and study of historical American art (pre-1980), as well two short-term visiting professorships in American art. These fellowships are part of an initiative of the Terra Foundation that aims to internationalise the field of historical American art, building a network of scholarly peers and has been awarded in conjunction with similar fellowships at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris.  The two-year fellowship will enable an emerging scholar to teach on a selected American art topic at the Courtauld Institute and to undertake a major research project intended for publication.  The visiting professorships are designed for scholars of American Art whose work plays a defining role in the disciplines of art and architectural history and conservation and who are willing to share their research with the Courtauld community formally (through lectures and seminars) and informally. In addition to presenting their research, the Visiting Professors are expected to meet with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to discuss their individual projects.






William McManus completed her PhD at Princeton University in 2012, where his dissertation focused on the art and films of Andy Warhol in the social and psychoanalytic context of contemporary neoliberal aesthetics.




Dr Wendy Ikemoto

Wendy Ikemoto completed her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2009.  Her dissertation examined paired, or pendant, painting in the antebellum United States.  She is currently working on the book manuscript of her dissertation and developing a study of American art in the Pacific world in the 19th and early-20th centuries.  Her article Putting the ‘Rip’ in ‘Rip Van Winkle’: Historical Absence in John Quidor’s Pendant Paintings, was published in the summer 2009 issue of American Art.






Christopher ReedChristopher Reed is Professor of English and Visual Culture at Pennsylvania State University. His interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on issues of identity as they play out in visual culture, including fine art, design, and the mass media. Reed's influential anthology Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture was published in 1996. Also in 1996, he published, A Roger Fry Reader, which presented little known texts by this influential of art critic, widening his legacy beyond his reputation as the father for formalism. Reed’s 2004 Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity explored the relationship of the Bloomsbury group to ideas about the look of modern life. This was followed by a major traveling exhibition co-organized with Nancy Green in 2008, A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections. Recent publications include Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas (Oxford 2011) and If Memory Serves: Gay Men, AIDS, and the Promise of the Queer Past (Minnesota 2012), co-authored with Christopher Castiglia. In 2010 he published The Chrysanthème Papers: The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème and other Documents of French Japonisme. Reed’s current research, which forms the basis of his teaching at The Courtauld in autumn 2012, investigates how Japanese aesthetics were marshaled to define alternative forms of masculinity in modern America.





Richard Meyer (Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Director the Contemporary Project at the University of Southern California) has been appointed as Terra Foundation Visiting Professor for the Academic Year 2010-11.



Research Forum/Andrew W Mellon Foundation MA Postdoctoral Fellowship


The Research Forum is pleased to announce that Edward Wouk has been awarded the Research Forum/Andrew W Mellon Foundation MA Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2012. This fellowship offers an opportunity to an early-career scholar to pursue a research project while gaining teaching experience by delivering a BA course and collaborating on the Research Forum/Mellon Foundation M.A. course, this year being offered by Professor Joanna Woodall and Professor Eric Jorink: Visualising Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands, c.1550-1730.



Anthony Gardner was awarded the Research Forum/Andrew W Mellon Foundation MA Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2010-11.  He taught with Professor Sarah Wilson and Visiting Professor Boris Groys on the Research Forum/Mellon Foundation M.A. course, Global Conceptualism: The Last Avant-Garde or a New Beginning? Anthony Gardner received his doctorate from the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, in 2009, with a thesis entitled Politically Unbecoming: Critiques of “Democracy” and Postsocialist Art from Europe.



Stephanie Schwartz was appointed Research Forum Mellon MA Postdoctoral Fellow for the Academic Year 2009-10.  Stephanie Schwartz was previously the Andrew W Mellon Fellow at Bryn Mawr.  She completed her doctoral dissertation, The Crime of Cuba: Urbanism, Photography and the Geopolitics of Americanization, at Columbia University in 2007.  The title of her research project is Cuba per diem: Walker Evans and American Photography.    



Charlie Miller was appointed Research Forum Mellon MA Postdoctoral Fellow for the Academic Year 2008-09



Andrew W Mellon/Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellowship 2012 (Activities Co-ordinator)

The Research Forum is pleased to announce the appointment of Ayla Lepine as the Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow for 2012.  The Fellowship, awarded annually to an early-career scholar who has completed their PhD at the Courtauld, enables the recipient  to continue with their research, to prepare their work for publication and to work as part of the team co-ordinating the activities of the Research Forum.  In addition, the Fellow is responsible for devising, organising and leading a major Research Forum project. 2012, this will involve a workshop and conference for a cohort of international scholars exploring the theme of Revival: Utopia, Identity, Memory, as well as an online collaboratively curated exhibition, Past in Present.

Previous recipients of the Fellowship have been John-Paul Stonard (2005), Douglas Brine (2006), Catherine Grant (2007), Judith Batalion (2008), Federico Botana (2009), Francesco Lucchini (2010), and Jim Harris (2011).


Research Forum Travel Scholarships


association of art historians fellowships



The Research Forum awarded travel scholarships to six postgraduate students giving research papers at the 2007 AAH Annual Conference, in Belfast. The recipients of the travel awards were Aliya Abykayeva-Tiesenhausen, Laura Cleaver, Pat Hardy, Antigoni Memou, Rachel Wells and Hannah Williams. The six students presented their papers at the Courtauld on Friday 16th March 2007.  View the timetable and abstracts of the papers below.





The Research Forum awarded fellowships to two postgraduate students giving research papers at the 2008 AAH Annual Conference in London. The recipients of the awards were Aliya Abykayeva de Tiesenhausen, and Hannah Williams. Hannah Williams presented a preview of her paper ‘Jean-Etienne Liotard: Other than Himself’ as part of the Early Modern Work-in-Progress Seminar on 25 February 2008. Aliya Abykayeva de Tiesenhausen presented her work-in-progress, ‘From War Memorial to the Beatles: Locating Kazakh Monu-mentality’, at the Research Forum on 14 March 2008.






The Research Forum awarded fellowships to three postgraduate students who will give research papers at the 2010 AAH conference at the University of Glasgow. The recipients of the awards were: Jim Harris, Jack Hartnell, and Edward Payne. The three recipients will present a preview of their papers at the Research Forum on 12 March 2010.  The titles of their papers are: Holy Wounds or a Good Kicking? Donatello, Vasari and the Varieties of Violence (Jim Harris); Spiritual Batteries: The Price of Reanimation and the Death of the Relic ( Jack Hartnell) and Britain’s Bête Noire? The Reception of Ribera in Nineteenth Century (Edward Payne).


pdfDownload Abstracts




Each year the Research Forum awards one or more fellowships to postgraduate students who give research papers at the annual conference of the Association of Art Historians. 

The 2012 AAH Fellowships were awarded to six students, each of whom presented papers at the AAH annual conference in Milton Keynes in March 2012. Names and paper titles for the 2012 Fellows are listed below.


Miranda Stearn, ‘Art and Destruction: the artist as anti-curator in the museum’

Pei-Kuei Tsai, ‘Self-Destructive Mimicry: the Early Modified Photographic Work of Taiwanese Artist Chen Chieh-Jen (1960- )’

Kaija Kaitavuori, ‘Negotiating contracts. Participative or relational art in the gallery’

Brandon Kline, ‘The Miraflores Altarpiece in Context’

Edward Payne, ‘Courtiers in Translation: Rubens’ “Copy” After Raphael’s Baldassare Castiglione’

Emilia Terracciano, ‘Tradurre e’ tradire: tracing treason’


Terra Foundation for American Art Travel Grants




The Research Forum participates in awarding the Terra Foundation for American Art Travel Grants, in collaboration with the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, the John F. Kennedy Institut für Nordamerikastudien, Freie Universität, Berlin, and the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich. This grant is awarded with the aim of developing the Terra Foundation’s support for international research projects that encourage young European scholars to travel to the United States for research purposes. Usually, three doctoral and three postdoctoral fellowships are awarded each year, with each of the participating institutes nominating up to three postdoctoral candidates and up to four doctoral candidates. This year, three awards were given to nominations forwarded by The Courtauld Institute of Art: Meredith Brown (doctoral, The Courtauld Institute of Art) for her project A History of A.I.R Gallery: Feminism and the Art Institution (1970s, New York);  Melena Tomic (doctoral, University College London) for her project Re-enactment, Repetition and the Mise-en-scène after Modernism; and Dr. Anna Lovatt (postdoctoral, University of Nottingham) for her project

Drawing Degree Zero: The Line from Minimal to Conceptual Art.

View the 2010 competition results


The Research Forum participates in awarding the Terra Foundation for American Art Travel Grant, in collaboration with the Institut National de l’Histoire de l’Art and the John F. Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien at the Freie Universität in Berlin. This grant is awarded with the aim of developing the Terra Foundation’s support for international research projects that encourage young European scholars to travel to the United States for research purposes. Three doctoral and three post-doctoral fellowships are awarded each year, with each of the participating institutes nominating up to three post-doctoral candidates and up to four doctoral candidates. This year, James Boaden, a third-year PhD candidate at the Courtauld Institute, received one of the doctoral awards. He will travel to San Francisco to conduct interviews with filmmakers and friends of artists featured in his dissertation entitled “The Avant-Garde as Swain: The Perpetually Outmoded and the Pastoral Attitude in the United States, 1945-1965”. He will also travel to the centre for the study of the filmmaker Stan Brakhage, currently being set up at the University of Boulder in Colorado.




Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series AUTUMN 2012 – Histories in Transition

Ayla Lepine, 2012 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow (Activities Coordinator)

The Courtauld Institute of Art’s annual autumn lecture series brings together top academics from around the world to share knowledge and open out perspectives in relation to a generative theme. The 2012 theme was Histories in Transition. Conceived by Dr Ayla Lepine, the 2012 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation / Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow (Activities Coordinator), the lecture series was responsive to the 2012-14 Research Forum theme, ‘The Quick and the Dead’; it also complemented and extended the themes which sustained the 2012 flagship Research Forum project Dr Lepine developed, titled ‘Revival: Utopia, Identity, Memory’. Traditionally sponsored by the F M Kirby Foundation, the 2012 Lecture Series received additional sponsorship from The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community; Transforming Lives through Engaging, Educating and Empowering People.

The 2012 Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series comprised five lectures and two seminars. All of the events in the Series were free and open to all. Histories in Transition explored modernity and historicism worldwide, incorporating topics ranging across conceptual art, statues and sculpture, gardens, painting, music, architecture, and the decorative arts. Spanning art histories across America, Europe, and Asia from the nineteenth century to the present, each lecture and seminar demonstrated the allure and the value of the past in forming and challenging responses to new circumstances. Interrogating the nature of revival, historicism and transnationalism, the Series’ lecturers were particularly interested in nature and artifice, ritual and memory, and the flexible meanings of materials, images and structures that simultaneously inhabit traditional and innovative territory.

Mark Cheetham, Professor of Art History at the University of Toronto, began the Series in October with a seminar on ‘Landscape and Language: from Conceptualism to Ecoaesthetics’, which marshalled material from the artists’ group Art and Language, arguments regarding environmental art and ecological responsibility recently published by Rasheed Araeen, and recent imbrications of the textual and visual in the genre of Western landscape from Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels to Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. The following evening, Cheetham and the artist Mariele Neudecker explored aspects of the sublime and traditions of landscape in contemporary art. The idea of ‘nature’ as a concept and as a spur for art drove compelling presentations and a rich dialogue between Neudecker, Cheetham, and an enthusiastic audience. On 22-23 October, Yale University’s Professor Tim Barringer offered a packed early morning tour of the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition for which he is co-curator with Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith at Tate Britain. He also gave a stimulating research seminar on art and music in the Aesthetic Movement, interlacing performance, composition, discourse, and painting from the 1860s and 1870s within a framework that investigated Walter Pater’s claim that ‘all art constantly aspires to the condition of music’. This was followed by ‘Broken Pastoral and the English Folk’, a lecture on music, idealism, folk traditions and painting in England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which focused on artists and musicians including George Clausen, Henry Herbert La Thangue, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

In November, Professor Remi Labrusse’s lecture, ‘Orientalism and “Islamophilia”’, suggestively argued for two distinct ways in which Islamic artefacts were perceived and engaged by European artists and audiences in the nineteenth century. For Labrusse, who is Professor of Art History at Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre, an ‘Orientalist’ trend, haunted by the shadows of an imagined past, was in fact opposed to a rationalist and progressive ‘Islamophilia’ more captivated with pattern and geometry than religion and socio-cultural exoticism. Professor Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, brought her decades of cultural history scholarship to bear on the questions surrounding the meanings, locations, and treatments of urban civic statuary in Calcutta, asserting that their ambiguous status and links with colonial and post-colonial discourses invests them with special significance deserving of increased attention. In the Frank Davis series’ final lecture in December, given by Professor Toshio Watanabe, transnationalism and the historiographies of art and cultural history were brought into sharply concentrated focus through the potent case study of Kyoto’s Ryoanji garden. Watanabe, who is Director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity, and Nation at the University of the Arts London, revealed the twentieth-century European and American discourses through which the sand and stone garden at Ryoanji temple problematically came to stand as an icon of both Japanese garden traditions and of Zen culture.

In each of the events within the Histories in Transition series, incisive critical perspectives were brought to bear on art, architecture, and design and its impacts across cultures, times and spaces. Art historical material was consistently enriched and enlivened through productive intersections with cultural, historical, philosophical, musicological, and transnational ideas. Tensions between tradition and innovation were probed and the diverse ways in which objects and knowledge have performed specific social and cultural functions created stimulating links between the lectures’ different topics across the autumn series. The Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series continue to be a highlight of The Courtauld’s Research Forum annual calendar, and the 2012 series has showcased the best of current art historical research for a wide range of specialist and non-specialist audiences.

(December 2012)


The Annual Review of the Research Forum provides a detailed summary of the Visiting Scholars and the conferences, seminars, symposia, workshops and lectures that have been a part of the Research Forum in the year to 31 July 2011.


View the 2010-11 Annual Review



Elisa Schaar, 2011-13 Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral

Teaching Fellowship


Thanks to sponsorship by the Terra Foundation for American Art, I had the privilege to join the Research Forum as postdoctoral fellow during the academic year 2011-12. My various projects for the year revolved around pop art, its international connections, and its ongoing legacies. On the topic of pop in this broad perspective, I designed and led an advanced undergraduate course aimed to promote an understanding of the richness of the pop phenomenon and the continuing relevance of its key themes, consumer culture and the mass media. The course incorporated some of the most recent scholarly literature in the field, reappraising such matters as pop’s treatment of planned obsolescence; its cold war contexts; neo-pop in the 1980s; women pop artists; and global pop. One of the highlights of the course was a visit to the American Ambassador’s Residence at Winfield House – a unique opportunity to see this carefully considered display of American postwar art in London and to reflect on the curatorial strategies in this diplomatic context.

On the occasion of the ‘Warhol: Headlines’ exhibition that put into focus Andy Warhol’s longstanding preoccupation with the news media, I co-organized with Jason E. Hill a two-day international conference on ‘American Art and the Mass Media’ that took place at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) in Paris. The conference provided a platform for the stimulating scholarship that is currently being produced on the interplay between the American fine arts and the structures, technologies, and contents of more instrumental forms of communication associated with the mass media from the early modern period to the present day. Through the thematic focus on mass media, the conference generated exchange about American art history across its long narrative and across ‘the long front of culture’ from different disciplinary perspectives, including film, media, and American studies. Under the auspices of the Terra Foundation, the event was the result of close collaboration between the Research Forum, INHA, the Ecole Normale Supérieure, the Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre la Défense, and the Université François Rabelais de Tours, with the great turnout and lively discussions testifying to the strong interest in American art in Europe.

As a member of the Research Forum, I had the opportunity to share research from my current book project on forerunners of appropriation art circa 1964-1974 in a research seminar and a public lecture. I would like to thank Gavin Parkinson and Caroline Arscott for convening these events and all participants for offering their feedback. The Research Forum, the Fellow’s office, and the classroom of my pop art course were stimulating environments for my work this year. In this context, I would also particularly like to acknowledge Mignon Nixon and Juliet Mitchell’s Mellon MA open sessions and Friends Lecture series on ‘Fifty Years of War in the Time of Peace’ that provided a thought-provoking forum for considering artistic responses to American wars since 1945 from the perspective of psychoanalysis. I owe great thanks to the Terra Foundation for sponsoring this very productive postdoctoral fellowship and to The Courtauld Institute for welcoming me so warmly into the community.

(June 2012)

B.D. Nandadeva (Nanda), 2011-12 Caroline Villers Research Fellow


The purpose of Nanda’s current research project is to characterize the materials and techniques of Buddhist temple paintings from the Southern and Western maritime region of Sri Lanka ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British in succession since AD 1505 to 1948.   It is known that the majority of those paintings were done, not by the traditional temple painters of the Sinhalese kingdom in the central highlands (‘up-country’) who held a high esteem and prestige under the native kings, but by a newly emerged class of local painters who belonged to the ‘exorcist-astrologer’ caste (that occupies a lower rank in the caste hierarchy) of the lowlands, who possessed limited artistic skills in moulding and painting of images of clay or carving and painting of wooden masks, both used in exorcist rituals and entertainment dance dramas.  Nanda is examining the hypothesis that the non-traditional painters who were ignorant of the traditional Sinhalese painting technology of the ‘up-country’ borrowed painting materials and techniques from the Europeans, and also introduced the materials and techniques that they have been using in exorcist rituals.


He is mainly using optical microscopy, EDX, staining techniques, FTIR, and Raman microscopy for pigment and binding media identification.  So far, he has examined over one-hundred paint cross-sections from fifteen temples using microscopy to determine their layer-   sequence and preliminary identification of pigments. Ten representative samples were selected for elemental analysis to confirm the pigments used.  Sequencing of the layers shows that artists have applied a thick white barium sulphate containing layer over a clay and sand ground to serve as a primer, and finished the works with the application of a layer of varnish. In some cases, calcium sulphate is mixed with the barium sulphate in the priming layer.

He has identified vermilion and orpiment applied over a priming layer of barium sulphate by elemental analysis (using EDX).  The artists first applied a thick layer of red or yellow pigment mixed with barium sulphate followed by a thin layer of pure red or yellow. The lighter under-layer serves a purpose in the final effects to diminish the intensity of colour of the final paint layer. The samples containing green paint showed two variations. Some samples contained a green coloured material with a spherical shape. Other samples had a mixture of blue and yellow. Several other samples had a thin blue layer applied on top of a thick yellow layer to create an optical green hue. Blue and green pigments have not so far been fully characterised, but the spherical shape of green pigments suggests that the pigment must be emerald green, a pigment of European origin.  The black pigment used is carbon-based.

The use of a basic three-layer structure that is comprised of a ground, primer, and the paint layer conform to the common wall painting technology of the Sinhalese tradition. The application of a varnish layer, which is not common to the traditional Sinhalese wall painting technology, could be either a southern innovation, or an idea borrowed from the Europeans.  The widespread use of barium sulphate and the occasional use of gypsum as the white pigment, the priming material, and the white extender show clear evidence of trade with Europe. The preliminary conclusions deduced as such appear to be supporting the hypothesis of the study.

(June 2012)






A new Research Forum series of events

In 2007, the Research Forum launched a new series of lectures, workshops, conversations and symposia under the title “Writing Art History”. On the 30th May 2007, Professor Griselda Pollock gave the inaugural lecture entitled “Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum”. Professor Pollock discussed numerous issues on the ways in which art history is written, starting with the deceptively simple question “What do art historians look like?”. From this Professor Pollock discussed the necessity for histories of art to be situated in their cultural and political contexts, whilst advocating a ‘Warburgian’ approach, combining different art historical periods, styles and mediums.

“Writing Art History” was the theme for numerous Research Forum events, including the Frank Davis Lecture Series in academic years 2007-08, and 2008-09. As well, a core seminar group has been formed, and the first "Writing Art History" symposium took place on 21 June 2008. Details of lectures, seminars and symposia are regularly posted on the Research Forum’s events page.





immediations cover

The third issue of immediations. The cover features a new painting, Language, by Howard Hodgkin that was specially created for this year's immediations. Inside, as well as articles on Andrea del Castagno and Paolo Uccello, illustrations of Boccaccio, Christopher Wren, Renato Guttoso and Hans Ulrich Obrist, the journal includes a transcript of the conversation between Hans Belting and Henk van Os, which took place during Hans Belting’s Visiting Professorship at the Courtauld in May 2005.

More on immediations


immediations cover

The fourth issue of immediations. Continuing the journal’s series of commissioned covers, the artwork for issue 4 has been designed by Josh Smith and Christopher Wool. Inside, articles include discussions of drawings by Sacchi and Guercino, Giorgio de Chirico’s Mannequins, images of education in twelfth century sculpture and metalwork, Coypel’s Children Playing at the Toilette, Horace Vernet’s Prise de la Smala d’Abd el-Kader and relational aesthetics in the work of Jens Haaning. The issue concludes with a conversation between the 2006 Research Forum Visiting Professor, Boris Groys, and John-Paul Stonard.



The Aesthetics of Publishing: The Art Book as Object from Print to Digital


Professor Patricia Rubin, Head of the Research Forum, contributed a paper on “The Aesthetics of Publishing” at the CAA Annual Conference in New York, February 2007. This paper followed on from the research that has taken place at the Research Forum exploring issues around publishing art history. Professor Rubin’s paper was part of a panel convened by William Tronzo (Stanford Humanities Center) and Catherine Soussloff (University of California, Santa Cruz), which “identified the aesthetics of the art book as a central issue” and was one of a number of CAA sessions addressing the future of art publishing. Papers from this panel will be published in a special issue of Visual Resources on “Issues in Art History Publishing”, including papers by William Tronzo (Stanford Humanities Center), Susan Bielstein (University of Chicago Press), Catherine Soussloff (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Mariët Westermann (Institute of Fine Arts).


2005-6 Research Forum / Conway Library Project


Archaeologies of the Standpoint

Building on the success of the previous year’s Research Forum / Conway Library project on the Persistence of Antiquity, the 2005-6 Research Assistants were appointed to the Conway Library to explore topics and prepare material in conjunction with Visiting Professor Whitney Davis’s lectures and seminars on Archaeologies of the Standpoint. The Assistants presented their findings at two well-attended lunchtime seminars held in March and June 2006. Their presentations can now be viewed here:

Distinguished teachers


In the 2006 Spring term Professor Paul Crossley and Professor John Lowden delivered their inaugural lectures as part of the Friends Lecture Series, Distinguished Teachers. They provided memorable introductions to one another's lectures, and both lectures were rapturously received. Professor Lowden has kindly agreed to make his text, Towards an Understanding of the Bibles Moralisées, available here.

In addition, Professor Lowden has made his extensive bibliography on the Bibles moralisées available on-line.

View Professor Lowden's Bibles Moralisées bibliography

Frank Davis Lectures, Autumn Term 2005


Viewing time: artists on art and temporality

In a departure from tradition, the Frank Davis lectures in the 2005 Autumn Term were given by artists rather than academics. The series, entitled Viewing time: artists on art and temporality, was convened by Professor Paul Hills, whose report on the lectures is available here.

Art History: Research and Academic Publishing


Susan Bielstein, executive editor for art, architecture, film, and classical studies at the University of Chicago Press, delivered this paper on clearing copyright for images of artworks at the Art History: Research and Academic Publishing workshop event, organised by the Research Forum in collaboration with the Association of Art Historians on 3 June 2005 at the Courtauld Institute. The Research Forum is grateful to Susan Bielstein and CAA News for permission to reproduce her text here.