My research is focused on sculpture in 19th century France and Britain, and on the decorative arts.
I am completing a new monograph, Sculptural Experiments in Britain, 1837-1901 (Manchester University Press). In recent decades, the scholarship on 19th-century British sculpture has been dominated by the New Sculpture of the 1870s onwards, and by a series of discrete case studies of individual sculptors and artworks. In contrast, my study considers the breadth of sculptural experimentation throughout Victoria’s reign. At its heart is a study of how sculptors attempted to make sculpture more relevant to contemporary life. It focuses on five key areas of contested sculptural activity: the first sculptor societies and their promotion of British sculpture; the portrait statue and modern clothing in sculpture; the influence of Christianity in both secular and church sculpture; sentimentality and the everyday; and a reassessment of the New Sculpture.
My research also focuses on the intersection of the arts. My book, Sculptors and Design Reform in France, 1848 to 1895: Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (Ashgate, 2014), argues for the inclusion of the decorative in the history of sculpture. Current projects include a cross-disciplinary collaboration on sculpture and the decorative with Dr Imogen Hart (University of California, Berkeley). We are co-editing Sculpture and the Decorative in Britain and Europe, 17th Century to Contemporary (Bloomsbury Academic). I am also interested in the history of the decorative in museums and galleries, and their location within art historical discourse.
I engage with questions including discourses of materials and of making; the hierarchy of the arts; reproduction and its histories; histories of display; the international movement and reception of artworks; art and industry; and artistic engagements with histories of art.
I am currently developing a project on sculpture, childhood and adolescence.