Dr James Hamilton Ph.D, BA, AMA


Senior Research Fellow

Department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies


Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


My museum career (1972-2013), which encompassed the curatorship of art galleries, exhibitions and collections in Hampshire, Yorkshire and in Birmingham as University Curator, created the foundation for my research and writing in both nineteenth and twentieth century art history. I am particularly interested in the inter-relationships between art and science in the nineteenth century, as manifested in the learned societies, and initially in the lives and works of Turner, Davy, Faraday, Martin and their generation.


Ph.D (Birmingham), BA (Manchester), AMA


1971: BA History of Art at the University of Manchester, having entered to read Mechanical Engineering (1966).

Curator of Art, Portsmouth City Museums (1972-74), Keeper of Art, Wakefield City Art Gallery (1974-76), Keeper of the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield (1976-84), Director of the Yorkshire Contemporary Art Group, Leeds (1984-89), University Curator, University of Birmingham (1992-2013); Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, 1998/99.


Occasional lectures at the University of Birmingham, 1992-2013. I have lectured across the United Kingdom and in Europe and the USA on Turner, Faraday, and the culture of Victorian Britain, and have taken part in feature programmes on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and BBC television on aspects of the art of J M W Turner.


Working on the inter-relationships between artists, writers and scientists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Simply put, I’m just interested in art.

Other activities

Currently, a member of the judging panel of the Berger Prize for British Art History (2012-13). Working with Turner Contemporary, Margate, on the exhibition Turner/Frankenthaler [working title], 2014-15, and with Altantic Books on my forthcoming A Strange Business: The Nineteenth Century Market in Art and Image (pub. date May 2014). See also: www.jameshamilton.co


  • Volcano - Nature and Culture (Reaktion Books, 2012)
  • Volcano: from Turner to Warhol (Compton Verney, 2010)
  • Turner and Italy (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferarra; National Museum, Budapest (2008/09)
  • London Lights: The Minds that Moved the City that Shook the World, 1805-51 (John Murray, 2007)
  • Faraday - The Life (HarperCollins, 2002; US, Random House, 2004)
  • Turner: The Late Sea Paintings (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown and touring to Manchester and Glasgow, 2003/04; Yale University Press)
  • Turner’s Britain (Gas Hall, Birmingham, 2003/04: accompanying book published by Merrell)
  • Hughie O’Donoghue - Painting, Memory, Myth (Merrell, 2003)
  • Turner and the Scientists (Tate Gallery 1998)
  • Turner - A Life (Hodder and Stoughton, 1997; US, Random House, 2002)
  • Wood Engraving and the Woodcut in Britain c1890-1990 (Barrie and Jenkins, 1994)
  • The Sculpture of Austin Wright (Lund Humphries and the Henry Moore Foundation, 1994)
  • William Heath Robinson (Pavilion, 1992)
  • Arthur Rackham - A Life with Illustration (Pavilion, 1990)

Also miscellaneous articles

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