Category Archives: Call for Papers

‘Portraiture as Interaction: The Spaces and Interfaces of the British Portrait’

December 11-12, 2015

The Huntington, San Marino, California

This symposium has been inspired by the important collections of British portraits at the Huntington Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, and by an upsurge of scholarly interest in the interactive nature of portraiture – both in its intrinsic character and as a curatorial construct.

Portraiture implies an interaction between the sitter and the spectator. It often rehearses an interaction between two or more protagonists and regularly focuses on the interaction between the person(s) represented and his, her, or their surroundings. Portraits – of husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends, and colleagues – are often depicted by artists and arranged by curators so as to interact with each other in meaningful ways. As they are created, and once they are completed, portraits (and the figures they represent) interact with their settings: with the studio, the exhibition space, the domestic interior, the public building or square; and with the objects, people, and spaces found in those settings. The same portrait, or portraits of the same sitter, can also find themselves interacting with each other across different media – paint, print, sculpture, and more.

Furthermore, curators are continually thinking about the ways in which the portraits they display – and the individuals these pictures portray – will relate with each other across and around a gallery. The Thornton Portrait Gallery at the Huntington and the galleries at the Yale Center for British Art exemplify portraiture’s continuing forms of interaction: implied and actual, pictorial and physical, and formal and figural.

This two-day international symposium will use the rich collections at the Center and the Huntington Art Gallery and the different concepts of interaction outlined above as points of departure and return, in order to open up new approaches to the history and workings of British portraiture up to the present. Participants will be encouraged to offer original and innovative readings of individual portraits, groups of portraits, portrait galleries, and portraiture as a genre. Talks that respond explicitly to works in the collections of the Huntington and the Center are particularly encouraged.

We invite proposals for thirty-five to forty-minute papers on this theme from scholars working in any discipline. Cross-disciplinary and comparative studies are particularly welcome.

Please e-mail abstracts of no more than 300 words, along with a short CV, to

The deadline for proposals is November 7, 2014

Travel and accommodations will be provided for speakers arriving from outside the Los Angeles area, and meals will be provided for all.

Irish Fine Art in the Early Modern Period

Deadline for submissions: Monday 12 January 2015

Papers are invited for a forthcoming book which will showcase new scholarship focused on the history of fine art in Ireland in the early modern period (c.1600-c.1815). Publication by Irish Academic Press is due in 2016.

Dedicated research in the past decade into Irish fine art of this period has produced some excellent – though isolated – examples in the form of displays, publications and articles. In notable contrast are coeval fine art studies in Britain which currently enjoy a revival in research funding, museum partnerships, publishing opportunities, exhibitions, and active expertise networks, all of which provide vital scholarly momentum to the field.

While a more sustained format for focused scholarly output in this area remains a desideratum, this project provides an opportunity to draw together and highlight substantial new work on the production and reception of fine art in Ireland in this period, and its contemporary discourse.

Contributions are warmly welcomed from academics and graduate students working in art history and associated humanities disciplines, curators and independent scholars actively engaged in related research. Papers should engage with fine art media – painting, drawing, miniatures, sculpture, and print culture – and demonstrate original and previously unpublished research.

Possible topics for papers include, but are not confined to, the following themes as considered in an Irish context:

  • Artistic patrons, patronage and collecting
  • Modes of acquisition and display
  • The impact of contemporary politics and ethnographic change on artistic production and consumption
  • Artistic networks
  • Artistic genres
  • Artist biographies
  • Artistic training and education
  • Foreign travel for formal or informal artistic education
  • Amateur artists and artistic production
  • Fashioning an artistic career; artists’ means of self-promotion and engagement with patrons and the art market
  • Art writing, published or otherwise
  • Art historiography of the early modern period

Please send an abstract of your proposed paper (approx. 400 words) and a brief biographical note (max. 200 words) to by Monday 12 January 2015. If you have any queries please address them to the same email. Final papers will be in the region of 9,000 words, but abstracts for shorter papers are also welcome (please indicate if possible when submitting your abstract). Authors are welcome to submit more than one abstract for consideration by the editorial committee, which comprises Dr Jane Fenlon, Dr Ruth Kenny, Caroline Pegum, and Dr Brendan Rooney. Final papers will be peer-reviewed.

George Scharf and the museum professional

George Scharf and the emergence of the museum professional in nineteenth-century Britain

A one-day participatory workshop concerning the emergence of the museum professional in the nineteenth-century, to be held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on Tuesday the 21st April 2015.

Current research focusing on the career of Sir George Scharf, the Gallery’s first Secretary and Director (1857-95), aims to establish his approach museum practice, the nature of his professional networks and the extent to which he collaborated with figures in the museum and wider art world. As custodian of the national portraits, Scharf oversaw the acquisition, display, interpretation and conservation of the early collection. He was also responsible for the establishment of a research library of engraved portraits, periodicals, books and documents. This, coupled with his diligent research into works in numerous private collections, served as a vital resource for authenticating potential portrait acquisitions for the Gallery. In recording what he saw by means of densely annotated sketches and detailed tracings, Scharf developed a procedure for the documentation, identification and authentication of portraiture, which continues to inform the research practice of the institution.

Short papers are invited from scholars on nineteenth-century practitioners centrally engaged in research, conservation, management or curatorship, within national or regional public galleries and museums. Participants should consider one or both of the following:

  • Evidence of the development of professional standards within individual careers.
  • Evidence of a collective contribution to the professionalization of museum practice during a period which saw the development of a range of clearly defined, independent, professions.

Whilst the careers of figures, including Sir Henry Cole, Sir Charles Eastlake and Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, have been examined in relation to wider institutional histories and studies of the public art museum in the Victorian era, little scholarly attention has been directed towards the identity of such individuals as a discrete group of professionals or the manner in which they interacted. To this end, presentations will be followed by a round-table discussion with reference to both the potential for collaboration between employees of different institutions, and the consolidation of museum roles throughout the 1800s. Participants might also consider the following questions:

Did potential networks extend beyond national boundaries to include contemporaries working in European museums and galleries, and what influence did this bring to bear upon British museum practice?

What were the differing needs of individuals working in various arts institutions, and how were these met within a circle of professional contacts?

How did the role of the curator develop in the nineteenth-century and how did this job specification vary between institutions?

Considering the backgrounds, or ‘skill-sets’ of these individuals, can we pinpoint a shift from connoisseurship towards an emerging curatorship?

Please direct abstracts for a 20-minute paper (approx. 250 words) and a biographical statement (100 words) to Elizabeth Heath at, no later than Monday 15th December 2014. Speakers will be notified in early January 2015.

CFP: Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House

Organised by the Paul Mellon Centre, the National Gallery, and Birkbeck, University of London

5-6 March 2015

When we visit a Georgian country house, wander through its interiors, and stop to look across a rope at a particular arrangement of pictures and furniture, it is common to experience the sense we are looking at a snapshot of the past, a frozen moment of time. This impression of the country house as a static, unchanging environment belies a crucial aspect of such properties: the fact that, during the eighteenth century itself, they were continually in flux and being fashioned and experienced anew. Recent research encourages us to think afresh about such issues. Sources such as diaries, letters, inventories, catalogues and account books show country-house objects being inherited, gifted, purchased, removed and relocated, and provide evidence that the spaces in which such objects were located were subject to constant development and reconceptualization. Accordingly, this conference will focus on the Georgian country house as an environment that was always evolving, and that was animated by the interaction between objects and people.

This conference will look at the ways in which objects, when placed on display within a particular space – a room, a corridor, a garden – entered into different kinds of dialogue with the contents, decoration and associations of that environment, all of which were subject to change and adaptation. It will also explore the ways in which the evolving spaces of the country house, and the forms of display found within them, were experienced – by those who lived in the house, by those who visited as tourists or invited guests, and by those who engaged vicariously through the process of ‘armchair travel’, reading guidebooks and other contemporary accounts.

This two-day event, which will include a half-day visit to a local property, aims to bring together scholars from a variety of fields with the objective of animating the eighteenth-century country house. Proposals for contributions are welcomed from art historians and historians working on all aspects of the eighteenth-century country house, including architecture, painting, sculpture, the decorative arts and garden history.

We particularly welcome proposals for papers exploring the following topics:

  • Acquisition: the purchase, commissioning, inheritance, gifting of works of art, furniture, books and other materials.
  • Display: picture hangs; room arrangements and decorative schemes; the organisation of art collections within and between different properties owned by the same family; garden design and layout.
  • The country house as lived environment: the lived experience of the country house as a family home; as a site of hospitality; as a space in which artists may have worked.
  • The country house as tourist destination: country house tourism; visitor experience; the multifarious literature related to country houses, including guidebooks, regional guidebooks, and periodical articles.

Abstracts for 25 minute conference papers should be no longer than 300 words in length, and should be accompanied by a short biography (of no more than 100 words) detailing any work or recent publications of particular relevance. Please send abstracts and biographies by Monday 14 July to:
Amelia Smith, The National Gallery/Birkbeck, University of London

CFP: Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House

Call for Papers

Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House

5-6 March 2015

Organised by the Paul Mellon Centre, the National Gallery, and Birkbeck, University of London.

This conference aims to address the themes of art collecting, display, architecture, interiors and gardens by bringing together scholars working in a range of fields. Proposals are welcomed from art historians and historians working on all aspects of the eighteenth-century country house.

Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House CFP

Abstracts for 25-minute conference papers should be no longer than 300 words in length, and should be accompanied by a short biography (of no more than 100 words) detailing any work or recent publications of particular relevance.

Please send abstracts by Monday 14 July 2014 to:

Amelia Smith
The National Gallery/Birkbeck, University of London


CFP: Understanding British Portraits Annual Seminar

This year’s Understanding British Portraits Annual Seminar will take place on Wednesday 26 November 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Dr Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust has been confirmed as the co-chair of the event.

This Annual Seminar aims to highlight current scholarly research, museum-based learning programmes, conservation discoveries and curatorial practice relating to British portraits of all media and time periods. They are inviting proposals for 20-25 minute papers from professionals who would like to share case studies and ideas which relate to the aims of the seminar.

Hilliard, N. George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, (c.1590). National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
Hilliard, N. George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, (c.1590). National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Understanding British Portraits is an active network with free membership for professionals working with British portraits including curators, museum learning professionals, researchers, academics and conservators. They aim to enhance the knowledge and understanding of portraits in all media in British collections, for the benefit of future research, exhibitions, interpretation, display and learning programmes.

Please send an outline of approximately 200 words, along with a brief biographical note, to before Friday 13 June.

For more information, please visit

CFP: Fashion, Function and Ornament – Accessorising the Long Eighteenth Century

A one-day symposium at the York Hilton Hotel and Fairfax House, Friday 19 September 2014

In fashion the term ‘accessory’ covers a wide range of items such as gloves, sashes, reticules, spectacles, watches, parasols, and potentially many other articles. Accessories can be seen as marginal to the nature of fashion, but historically they have played a key role in shaping the character of men’s and women’s fashions, combining ornament and function and giving scope for the expression of individual and collective identities. The era from the late Stuart to the early Victorian period saw the accessory achieve new prominence as a fashion statement, an expression of wealth, status and taste, and a desirable object of consumption, possession and display.

This symposium aims to bring together interested parties from curatorial, conservation, academic and other backgrounds with an interest in fashion, textiles, clothing and related topics to explore the nature and significance of accessories in the history of fashion from c.1660 to c.1840. Relevant topics to be addressed in contributions to the symposium may include (but would certainly not be limited to) the gender, class and identity dimensions of the accessory, collecting and collections cultures of consumerism and consumption, style, fashion and ornament, exoticism and the antique in accessory design and ornament, and the accessory in the visual and literary culture of the ‘long eighteenth century’.
Proposals are invited for symposium contributions not exceeding 20 minutes in length. Please send outlines of c.200 words to: by Monday 28 July 2014. Please direct any queries about the symposium to the same email address.