Dr Francesca Berry BA MA PhD (University College London)

Dr Francesca Berry

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TS

My specialisms are: French art, design and visual culture 1850-1940; Edouard Vuillard, the Nabis and domesticity; the representation of the domestic interior across a range of modern visual media; feminist methodologies.


BA MA PhD (University College London)


I joined the University of Birmingham in 2005 as Lecturer in History of Art, having previously been Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Warwick. Prior to this I held a two-year post-doctoral research fellowship at the AHRB Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior at the Royal College of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum and Royal Holloway College, University of London. I studied for my BA, MA and PhD in the Department of History of Art at University College London. Between 2013 and 2016 I was Head of the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies at University of Birmingham and took this role up again in 2017-18. I have been a member of the editorial board of the Oxford Art Journal, published by Oxford University Press since 2010 and am currently Chair of its editorial group. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Birmingham in August 2017.



I contribute to many aspects of History of Art undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, most notably the modules:

  • LH/LM Paris Moderne 1850-1930: Image, Concept, Femininity
  • LH/LM Inside Out: Interior and Interiority in French Art, Design and Culture 1860-1940
  • LI Impressionism and After: Art and Society 1870-1900
  • LI Real and Ideal: Art and Society in Mid Nineteenth-Century France
  • LM Criticism and Methods

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students wishing to research any subject that overlaps with my research and teaching interests.

Current Postgraduate Research Supervision


  • Cai Lyons, ‘Networks of Modernism: a feminist and geopolitical analysis of Mary Swanzy (1882 – 1978)’ (Haywood Doctoral Scholarship).
  • Rebecca Savage, ‘Redesigning Modernism: Opportunities for Female Autonomy with the World of Poster Design (1918-39)’ (AHRC Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Award) with Dr Richard Hornsey (University of Nottingham).
  • Hannah Halliwell ‘Morphine Addicts in Fin-de-Siècle French Visual Culture: Art, Medicine, Sexuality and Femininity’ (AHRC Midlands 3Cities Doctoral Award) with Dr Ting Chang (University of Nottingham) and Dr Camilla Smith (University of Birmingham)
  • Sara Tarter 'Commercialising Culture: The Display of Art in French, British and American Department Stores (1875-1914) (University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law Doctoral Scholarship)


  • Jon Stevens ‘Shadows and Silence Under Glass: Fernand Khnopff, Henri Le Sidaner and Frank Brangwyn’s fin-de-siècle Visions of Bruges’

Previous Postgraduate Research Supervision


  • Alison Hall ‘The Shelter Photographs 1968-72, Nick Hedges: The Representation of the Homeless Child and a Photographic Archive’ (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award) with Prof Ian Grosvenor and Dr Sian Roberts. PhD awarded 2016.
  • Richenda Roberts ‘”Patriotism is not enough”: Visual responses to Pacifism and Feminism in Britain during World War One’ (AHRC Doctoral Award) with Dr Jutta Vinzent. PhD awarded 2013.


  • Hannah Carroll ‘Travels Through Text and Image: Estella Canziani’s ‘Costumes, Traditions and Songs of Savoy’ (AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award) with Dr Camilla Smith. MPhil awarded 2013.
  • Kathryn Murray ‘Self-Ordering Creativity and an Independent Work Space. Edna Clark-Hall’s Poem Pictures’ (AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award). MPhil awarded 2012.
  • Elin Morgan ‘The Studio Practice of Jacob Epstein as revealed by an examination of selected contemporaneous photographs and a selection of his sculptural fragments’ (AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award). MPhil awarded 2012.

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


The main focus of my research is the artistic and visual culture of domesticity in France 1880-1940 as framed by questions deriving from feminist methodologies. On the one hand my research lies in painterly, avant-garde, domesticities and, on the other, in mass-consumed, mediated domesticities. Either way, I consider how and to what historical effect these domesticities are productive of subjectivities that are sexually differentiated.

Currently I am completing a book examining the personal and social politics of domesticity in the work and working arrangements of French Nabi artist Edouard Vuillard, Edouard Vuillard and the Nabis: Art and the Politics of Domesticity. This will constitute the first book-length feminist engagement with Vuillard and Intimisme more generally. I am also curator of the international loan exhibition ‘Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard’ at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, October 2018 to January 2019. I am author with Mathias Chivot (Director of the Archives Vuillard, Paris) of the fully-illustrated catalogue, Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard, published 2018 by Paul Holberton Publishing. A further article on the historiography of Intimisme, ‘Intimisme: Private Life of a Critical Category’ is planned.

I am also currently researching mass media publications associated with the hugely popular interwar Salon des Arts Ménagers (1923-1983), including the journal L'Art Ménager and the annual exhibition poster. My article ‘Housewife Writ Large: Marie mécanique, Paulette Bernège and New Feminist Domesticity in Interwar France’ that critically analyses the representation of housewife-automata in SAM publicity materials was published May 2017 in Oxford Art Journal. A further article on the topic of interwar French mass-media domesticity, ‘Housework, The Eighth Art’, is planned.

I am in the process of building a research project on the theme of ‘Nabis Politics: Art at the Vanguard of Debate after 1888’. This project will investigate the political and social attitudes of the influential Nabi artists, who rose to artistic prominence in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. By studying their work, objectives and affiliations in unprecedented detail, the network will develop an innovative critical perspective that casts much-needed new light on the Nabis' approach to art and design, promotes public engagement with their work and offers fresh insights into the turbulent relationship between culture and politics in 1890s France; the decade of feminist congresses, labour agitation, anarchist bombings, presidential assassination and the Dreyfus Affair. The project will foster vital international links between academics, archivists and curators, and their audiences, and reconcile discrete strands of research to produce an online research portal and edited collection.

I have been researcher on two RCUK funded collaborative research projects: as co-investigator to AHRC Suburban Birmingham: Spaces and Places, 1880-1960 (University of Birmingham, Birmingham Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham, 2009-2012) and as postdoctoral research fellow at AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (Royal College of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2001-2003). I was lead supervisor to the successfully completed AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award ‘Displaying Childhood Spaces’.

Other activities

I am currently Chair of the editorial group of the Oxford Art Journal, having joined the editorial board in 2010. Oxford Art Journal is published by Oxford University Press.

I am an external board member of Object, the postgraduate History of Art journal published by University College London. I have been external reader to Art History, Architectural History, Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture and for Manchester University Press, and external peer reviewer to the AHRC.

Currently, I am external examiner to the BA History of Art programmes at the University of Bristol. I have been external examiner to the Masters History of Art programme at University of Nottingham and the undergraduate Humanities programme at Imperial College, London.

In July 2015 I co-convened (with Dr Jo Applin, Courtauld Institute of Art, London) at the University of Birmingham the international conference House, Work, Artwork: Feminism and Art History's New Domesticities (sponsors: University of Birmingham, University of York, Oxford Art Journal). Visit the conference website.

In November 2018 I am convening ‘Fraternity and Femininity: Family Ties in the Art of Édouard Vuillard and the Nabis’, a symposium to accompany the ‘Maman’ exhibition.

At University of Birmingham I have held the following academic management and administration roles:

  • Head of Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies (2013–2016; 2017-18)
  • College of Arts and Law Director of Joint Honours Liaison and Extenuating Circumstances (2011-2013)
  • College of Arts and Law Joint Honours Extenuating Circumstances Panel Chair (2011-2013) and Member (2010-2011)
  • College of Arts and Law Joint Honours Steering Committee Member (2011-12)
  • School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music Head of Student Development and Support (2009-2011)
  • School of Historical Studies Mitigations Panel Member (2006-2010)
  • Departmental REF Reading Group Member (2015-2016)
  • Departmental Director of Undergraduate Studies (2013-2014; 2017-)
  • Departmental Staff Student Committee Chair (2005-2013)
  • Departmental Welfare Officer (2005-2010)
  • Departmental Undergraduate Admissions Tutor (2005-2007; 2015-2016).
  • Departmental Study Abroad Tutor (2017- )



  • Édouard Vuillard and the Nabis: Art and the Politics of Domesticity, in progress for expected publication in 2019.
  • (with an additional essay by Mathias Chivot, Archives Vuillard, Paris), Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard, Paul Holberton Publishing, 2018.

Edited special issues

  • Ed. (with Dr Jo Applin, Courtauld Institute of Art, London), ‘Feminist Domesticities’, special issue of Oxford Art Journal, vol. 40, no. 1 (May 2017).
  • Ed. (with Prof. Jeremy Aynsley), ‘Publishing the Modern Home: Magazines and Interiors 1870-1965’, special issue of Journal of Design History, vol. 18, no. 1 (2005).


  • 'Housework, The Eighth Art', 8000-word article, in progress.
  • ‘Housewife Writ Large: Marie mécanique, Paulette Bernège and New Feminist Domesticity in Interwar France', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 40, no. 1 (May 2017), pp. 7-26.
  •  'Maman is my Muse: The Maternal as Motif and Metaphor in Édouard Vuillard’s Intimisme’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 34, no. 1 (April 2011), pp. 55-77.
  • ‘Designing the Reader’s Interior: Subjectivity and the Woman’s Magazine in Early Twentieth-Century France’, Journal of Design History, vol. 18, no. 1 (2005), pp. 61-79.

Chapters in books

  • ‘In Bed: The Corporeality and Subjectivity of the Bedroom Scene’, G. Downey (ed.), Domestic Interiors: Representing Homes from the Victorians to the Moderns, Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 129-46.
  • ‘Linda Nochlin’, D. Costello & J. Vickery (eds.), Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers, Berg publishing, 2007
  • ‘Lived Perspectives: The Art of the French Nineteenth-Century Interior’, J. Aynsley & C. Grant (eds.), Imagined Interiors: Representing the Domestic Interior since the Renaissance, V&A Publications, 2006, pp. 160-83.


  • ‘Homes on Show: Bournville Village Trust, Feminine Agency and the Performance of Suburban Domesticities’, AHRC Suburban Birmingham: Spaces and Places 1880-1960 collaborative research project website, 2011.
  • 123 authored entries (FB1-FB127) to 3000-entry online research database, Domestic Interiors Database: Representing the Domestic Interior Since the Renaissance, published by the AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior, October 2006.

Book reviews

  • 'Women Artists in Interwar France: Framing Femininities', French Studies, 2012, vol. 66, pp 593-4
  • ‘Inside the Psychologised Interior’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 25, no. 2 (2002), pp. 156-61.
  • ‘Modernity, Modernism and Sexual Difference, Again’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 30, no. 2 (2007), pp. 327-334.

View all publications in research portal


French art and visual culture 1840-1930, especially Vuillard and the Nabis; therepresentation of domestic space, interior decoration andwomen's magazines; gender