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 (University College London)
  • MA (University College London)
  • PhD (University College London)


I joined the University of Birmingham in 2005 as Lecturer in History of Art having previously held a temporary lectureship 2003-5 in History of Art at the University of Warwick. I studied for my BA, MA and PhD in the Department of History of Art at University College London (my PhD under the supervision of Prof Tamar Garb) and then proceeded to an AHRC post-doctoral research fellowship at the Royal College of Art, Royal Holloway, and Victoria & Albert Museum. 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. From 2010 to 2022 I was an Editor of the Oxford Art Journal, published by Oxford University Press, and was Chair of its editorial group from 2017 to 2022. Currently, I am Head of Research for the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. In 2017 I was promoted to Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Birmingham. 


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

Matthew French, 'The Limits of Legibility: Modernism and the Critical Edge of Caricature and the Caricatural 1881-1900'.

Benoit Guérillot, 'Proust, Bonnard and Deleuze's Theory of Signs' (second supervisor).

Erica Tso, ‘Moga as the Epitome of Interwar Japanese Femininity: A Comparative Study of Print Culture in Japan and Britain’.

Previous Postgraduate Research Supervision

Rebecca Savage, ‘Redesigning Modernism: Opportunities for Female Autonomy with the World of Poster Design (1918-39)’ (AHRC Midlands 4 Cities Doctoral Award) with Dr Richard Hornsey (University of Nottingham).

Cai Lyons, ‘Networks of Modernism: a feminist and geopolitical analysis of Mary Swanzy (1882 – 1978)’ (University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law Doctoral Scholarship; Haywood Doctoral Scholarship).

Hannah Halliwell ‘Morphine Addicts in Fin-de-Siècle French Visual Culture: Art, Medicine, Sexuality and Femininity’ (AHRC Midlands 4 Cities Doctoral Award) with Dr Ting Chang (University of Nottingham) and Dr Camilla Smith (University of Birmingham). PhD awarded 2020.

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). PhD awarded 2019.

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.

MA by Research
Mattias Vendelmans 'Pelle Swedlund, A Swedish Symbolist Painter in Bruges'.

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

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.


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 identities and 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 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2024). This will constitute the first book-length feminist engagement with Vuillard and Intimisme more generally. I was guest curator to the international loan exhibition ‘Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard’ at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, October 2018 to January 2019. I authored the exhibition’s fully-illustrated catalogue, Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard, published 2018 by Paul Holberton Publishing.

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 the 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 ‘Nabi 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 project 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.

I have been researcher on three 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 Principal Investigator and lead supervisor to the successfully completed AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award ‘Displaying Childhood Spaces’.

Other activities

I am currently Chair of the editorial group of 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 Bloomsbury Academic, 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 convened ‘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; 2019-)
  • Departmental Welfare Officer (2005-2010)
  • Departmental Undergraduate Admissions Tutor (2005-2007; 2015-2016).
  • Departmental Study Abroad Tutor (2017-2018)


Recent publications


Berry, F & Chivot, M 2018, Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard. Paul Holberton Publishing. <https://www.paulholberton.com/product-page/maman-vuillard-and-madame-vuillard>


Berry, F 2019, 'Curating Madame Vuillard', Midlands Art Papers, no. 2, pp. 1-7. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-artslaw/historyofart/map/issue2/ON-Berry.pdf>

Berry, F 2017, 'Housewife writ large: Marie mécanique, Paulette Bernège and new feminist domesticity in interwar France', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 7–26. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxartj/kcx002

Berry, F 2011, 'Maman is my Muse: The Maternal as Motif and Metaphor in Edouard Vuillard's Intimisme', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 55-77. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxartj/kcr015


Berry, F 2023, Flat, Flexible, Meaningful: The Modernist Paravent. in N Cullinan (ed.), Paraventi: Folding Screens from the 17th to 21 st Centuries. Fondazione Prada, Milan, pp. 50-59, Paraventi, Milan, Italy, 26/10/23. <https://bookshop.fondazioneprada.org/shop/UIShop/Shop_DettaglioArticolo.aspx?idshoparticolo=160>

Berry, F 2021, The gender politics of the Nabis. in MW Chapin & HL Brown (eds), Private Lives: Home and Family in the Art of the Nabis, Paris, 1889-1900. Yale University Press. <https://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?K=9780300257595&nat=false&sort=%24rank&sf1=keyword&st1=Private+Lives&m=6&dc=135>

Berry, F 2013, 'Bedrooms: Corporeality and Subjectivity'. in Domestic Interiors: Representing Homes from the Victorians to the Moderns. Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp. 129-146.

Berry, F, Costello, D & Vickery, J 2007, Linda Nochlin. in Art: Key Contemporary Thinkers.

Berry, F, Aynsley, J & Grant, C 2006, Lived Perspectives: The Art of the French Nineteenth-Century Interior. in Imagined Interiors: Representing the Domestic Interior since the Renaissance.


Berry, F, Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard, 2018, Exhibition.

Other contribution

Berry, F 2006, 120 authored entries (FB1-FB120), together with analytical commentary, to online research database: Domestic Interiors Database: Representing the Domestic Interior Since the Renaissance..

Review article

Berry, F 2007, 'Modernity, Modernism and Sexual Difference, Again', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 327-334. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxartj/kcm001

Special issue

Applin, J & Berry, F 2017, 'Feminist Domesticities' Oxford Art Journal, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 1-222. <https://academic.oup.com/oaj/issue/40/1>

Applin, J & Berry, F (eds) 2017, 'Introduction: Feminist Domesticities', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 40, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxartj/kcx007

Web publication/site

Berry, F, AHRC Suburban Birmingham: Spaces and Places 1880-1960 research project website: Homes on Show: The Bournville Village Trust, Feminine Agency and the Performance of Suburban Domesticities (8,000 words), 2011, Web publication/site.

View all publications in research portal


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