Dr Sophie Hatchwell

Dr Sophie Hatchwell

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Lecturer in History of Art

Contact details

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am an historian of visual culture, and my research focuses on text-image relationship and the dissemination of art in Britain in the 20th century. My research has been supported by the Barnes-Graham Trust and Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.


PhD, University of Bristol
MA, Courtauld Institute of Art
BA (hons), University of East London


I joined Birmingham as a Teaching Fellow in 2017 and took up a lectureship in 2018. Prior to this, I taught History of Art at Bristol School of Art, and the University of Bristol, where I obtained my PhD in 2015. I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since summer 2017. 


My teaching focuses on art history in the modern period, as well as theories and methodologies.
Current and past taught modules include:

Beauty, Goodness, Truth
Paris Moderne 1850-1930
American Art in the 1960s
Reading Art History
Concepts of Modernism
Debates and Methods
Object and Medium

Postgraduate supervision

I would welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students hoping to undertake research relating to my interests in the interrelationship of word and image, art theory and criticism in the 19th and 20th centuries, art and literature, 20th Century British art, art and intertextuality, and display, spectatorship and phenomenology.

Find out more - our PhD History of Art  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research centres on visual culture in Britain and Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a particular focus on the relationships between art writing, display and aesthetic experience.  Beyond a strictly geographic and historical context, my work considers how text intervenes in an audience’s experience of art objects, and I’m interested in tracing the diverse range of texts implicated in this dynamic.

My work to date has centred on the relationship between art writing and display practices at the fin de siècle, culminating in a monograph, Performance and Spectatorship in Edwardian Art Writing (Palgrave, forthcoming 2019), which uses a phenomenological-semiotic methodology to explore the embodied or performative nature of reading about art.

Ongoing research will consider the means by which texts frame or condition display and reception of 20th century modernism in local or peripheral contexts.  This work engages in debate about the formation of cultural identities, and considers the role played by word-image relationships in mediating between the local and transnational.

This research on word and image also feeds into my pedagogic interest in the impact of digital technology on the reading and understanding of art history in higher education.

Other activities

For 2018/19 I am personal tutor to second year single honours students. I am also part of the Midland Art Papers Impact Case Stufy.


Books (single- author)

Performance and Spectatorship in Edwardian Art Writing, (Palgrave, forthcoming 2019)

Auctioning Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon: A Sales History 1990-2015 (London: Piano Nobile Works of Art, 2017)

Auctioning Stanley Spencer: A Sales History 1990-2014 (London: Piano Nobile Works of Art, 2017)

Peer reviewed journal articles/ essays

‘‘Acquiring a Foreign Accent’: painting as transnational language in Edwardian art writing’ in Imagined Cosmopolies, ed. by Grace Brockington and Sarah Turner (Peter Lang, forthcoming 2019)

‘Born Digital: early career researchers shaping art historical research’ with Hana Leaper and Fern Insh, Visual Resources special issue ‘Digital Art History- Where are We Now’? (forthcoming, summer 2018)

‘Recovering Robert Ross: Criticism, Commerce and Networking in the Edwardian Art World’ in Beyond the Garden Party: Rethinking Edwardian Culture, ed. by Samuel Shaw, Sarah Shaw and Naomi Carle (Routledge, 2017)

‘The “Language of Painting”: Aesthetic Experience in Edwardian Art Criticism’ in Visual Resources, Taylor Francis (Spring 2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973762.2017.1276725

Digital Publications

‘Perspectives on Interpretation’, with Brian Scholes, Midland Art Papers, Issue 2 (forthcoming Autumn 2018)

‘“Emblems of a Stable Order”: the RA during the Second World War’; ‘Women at the Royal Academy’; ‘The Resurrection and Stanley Spencer’s Re-election to the RA’; ‘“Solid Centrism” and Modern Realism’, in The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018, ed. by Mark HallettSarah Victoria TurnerJessica Feather (Paul Mellon Centre, May 2018), http://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/publications /browse/ra-chronicle

Response to ‘Still Invisible?’ Conversation Piece ed. Patricia de Montfort, British Art Studies (2016), Issue 2, http://www.britishartstudies.ac.uk/issues/issue-index/issue-2/still-invisible

View all publications in research portal