My research is focused on nineteenth-century French and British sculpture. I am interested more broadly in intersections between the arts, notably between sculpture and the decorative arts; discourses of materials and of making; the hierarchy of the arts; reproduction and its histories; histories of display; and artistic engagements with histories of art.
Current projects include a cross-disciplinary collaboration on sculpture and the decorative with Dr Imogen Hart (UC Berkeley). The project will culminate in an edited collection, Sculpture and the Decorative in Britain and Europe, Seventeenth Century to Contemporary (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). Through distinct case studies, from a 17th century altarpiece to contemporary ceramics, the essays chart the contexts and agendas that these shifting relationships between sculpture and the decorative expose and serve to support. In doing so, they demand a reassessment of the ways in which the two fields have been defined and separated, and offer a model for a more integrated form of art history writing.
The project develops from my monograph Sculptors and Design Reform in France, 1848 to 1895: Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (Ashgate, 2014), which argued for the inclusion of the decorative in the study of sculpture. This drew on my PhD research, examining the decorative work of sculptors including Carrier-Belleuse, Rodin, Desbois and Carabin, to offer a more accurate and comprehensive account of the practice and profession of sculpture in nineteenth-century France.
I am currently completing a new monograph, Experiments in Nineteenth-Century British Sculpture: Collaboration, Innovation, Failure (Manchester University Press, 2021). This is the first book-length study since Benedict Read’s seminal Victorian Sculpture (1982) to examine sculpture in Britain across the nineteenth century. I identify and examine four key innovations in this critical period: collaboration, church sculpture, sentimentality and the portrait statue. Finally, the study also offers a re-reading of the New Sculpture in relation to these earlier experiments - as an elitist return to the Antique - and makes a call for a more inclusive history of sculpture that pays attention to the sculpture that preceded and surrounded it.
I am also developing new projects on Childhood, Adolescence and Sculpture, and on Anglo-French Artistic Exchange.
I welcome proposals for PhD research on nineteenth-century French and British sculpture, the decorative arts, craft, hierarchies of art, and the history of galleries, museums and exhibitions.