Dr Claire Jones

Photograph of Dr Claire Jones

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

Contact details

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TS

My specialisms are French and British sculpture and the decorative arts 1800-1900, with a particular interest in intersections between sculpture and the decorative arts, between art and industry, and in curating the decorative. 


  • PhD, University of York
  • MA, Royal College of Art
  • BA (Hons), University of Essex 


I am a researcher, lecturer and former curator, with experience across the university and museum sectors.

I joined the University of Birmingham in September 2015 as Lecturer in History of Art. Prior to this I held two AHRC-funded postdoctoral positions: on Dance and Memory at the University of Chichester, and on Displaying Victorian Sculpture, a major three-year collaborative project at the universities of York and Warwick, which in part culminated in the Sculpture Victorious exhibition at Tate Britain and the Yale Center for British Art.

I gained my PhD from the University of York in 2010. I was previously Curator of Furniture at the Bowes Museum (2001-07), and have written for exhibition catalogues for the Musée Rodin in Paris and the Yale Center for British Art.

I am on the Advisory Board for the series ‘The Material Culture of Art and Design’ (series editor Michael Yonan), and welcome proposals for monographs, thematic studies, and edited collections, https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/series/material-culture-of-art-and-design/


For the MA Art History and Curating I convene and teach on the following modules:

  • Curatorial Practices
  • Placements: Art History in the Field
  • Theorising and Historicizing Exhibitions

I also supervise BA and MA dissertations.

Further teaching includes:

  • Sculptural Experiments in Britain, 1837-1901 (Special Subject module)
  • Inside the Gallery

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students wishing to research any subject that overlaps with my research and teaching interests, including 19th-century French and British sculpture, the decorative arts, and the history of galleries, museums and exhibitions.

PhD supervision:

  • Helen Jonas, ‘Where Art and Science Meet: Art and Design at Oxford University Museum of Natural History’, a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with Oxford University Museum of Natural History. 

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


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.  

Other activities

  • Director of Postgraduate Studies
  • Postgraduate Admissions Tutor
  • Convenor of MA Art History and Curating
  • Convenor MA History of Art
  • Employability,  Internships and Placements 



  • Sculptors and Design Reform in France, 1848 to 1895: Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (Ashgate, 2014).
  • Sculptural Experiments in Britain, 1837-1901 (under contract with Manchester University Press).

Edited collections

  • Co-edited with Imogen Hart, Sculpture and the Decorative in Britain and Europe, 17th Century to Contemporary (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic). 

Peer-reviewed essays and journal articles

  • ‘“A Perverted Taste”: Italian depictions of Cloth and Puberty in mid-19th-century century Marble’, in Alice Kettle and Leslie Millar (eds), The Erotic Cloth: Seduction and Fetishism in Textiles (Bloomsbury Academic, February 2018).
  • ‘Nathaniel Hitch and the Making of Church Sculpture’, in a Special Issue on Victorian Sculpture, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 22 (2016).
  • ‘A Creative Engagement with Historic and Modern Sculpture: Waldo Story's Fallen Angel’, Sculpture Journal, 23:2 (2014), pp. 145-158.

Exhibition catalogues

  • G.G. Scott, Model, Tomb of Philippa of Hainault (1851)’, ‘Anon., Cast of tomb of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1852-4)’, ‘A.W.N. Pugin and Hardman and Co., Brass Rubbing (1850)’, H.N. Humphreys, Parables of Our Lord (1847) and A Record of the Black Prince (1849)’, ‘J.D. Sedding, Pastoral staff (1883)’ and E. Burne-Jones, Perseus and the Graiae (1877-88)’, in Martina Droth, Jason Edwards and Michael Hatt (eds), Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901 (Yale University Press, 2014), cat. 45-46, 48-51, 144; pp. 157-62, 167-72, 396-99.
  • ‘La Formation d'un Sculpteur’, in François Blanchetière and William Saade (eds), Rodin, les Arts décoratifs (Musée Rodin, 2009), pp. 10-15.
  • Howard Coutts and Claire Jones (eds), Toulouse-Lautrec and the Art of the French Poster (The Bowes Museum, 2004).

Essays and articles

  • ‘Pietro Magni’s The Reading Girl’, Midland Art Papers (2017), Issue 1.
  • ‘Eiffel Tower, France (Gustave Eiffel, 1889)’, in Grace Lees-Maffei (ed.), Iconic Designs: 50 stories about 50 things (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2014), pp. 26-29.
  • ‘Sculpture c.1840-1901’, in Dee Dyas (ed.), English Cathedrals and Monasteries through the Centuries:History, Community, Art, Architecture, Worship, Spirituality, Music, DVD-ROM (York: The Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, 2013).
  • 'A Neo-Classical Discovery at the Bowes Museum', Apollo (May 2005), pp. 64-67.

Book reviews

  • John C. Welchman (ed.), Sculpture and the Vitrine (Ashgate, 2013), Journal of the History of Collections (July 2014), vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 325-326.
  • David J. Getsy, Rodin: Sex and the Making of Modern Sculpture (Yale University Press, 2010), Sculpture Journal, vol. 20.1 (2011), pp. 280-282.

Encyclopaedia entries

  • ‘William Dyce (1806-1864)’, vol. 1, 447-448;  ‘Charles Eastlake (1836-1906)’, vol. 1, 445-456; ‘Ornament’, vol. 3, 17-18; and ‘Richard Redgrave (1804-88)’, vol. 3, 147-148; in Clive Edwards (ed.), The Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Design (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). 

View all publications in research portal