Siân Walters, MA (CANTAB)
Siân Walters is the director of Art History in Focus. She is a highly qualified art historian and lectures for the National Gallery, The Arts Society, The Wallace Collection, Friends of the Royal Academy, The London Art History Society, The Art Fund and many other art societies and colleges in the UK and Europe. She was also a lecturer at Surrey University for many years. Having graduated from Cambridge University, Siân spent four years in Italy and France where she worked for the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the eminent scholar H.C. Robbins Landon. As well as running Art History in Focus, she spends much of the year lecturing abroad, particularly in Italy and Spain, and is well known for her enthusiastic, structured yet informal approach. Siân is delighted to have been nominated by an independent travel company in 2008 and 2009 for the Daily Telegraph’s Best Guide Award. In 2016 she was named a Highly Commended finalist in the Wanderlust World’s Best Guide Awards. Siân was honoured to be asked to teach the first online course for The National Gallery (Stories of Art) in September 2020 as well as the first online course given by The Wallace Collection in July 2020. She also gave the first Zoom lecture for The Arts Society in March 2020.
Siân’s specialist areas are 15th and 16th century Italian painting, Spanish Art and Architecture, Flemish and Dutch painting and the relationship between Dance and Art (she is an honorary advisor to the Nonsuch Historical Dance Society). She has given many lectures on this subject for the National Gallery, including a number of events in conjunction with the gallery’s “Renaissance Siena”, “Sacred Made Real”, and “Canaletto and his Rivals” exhibitions. A special evening event in conjunction with Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan was also commissioned by the gallery, as one of a small number of Friday evening talks given talks by Leonardo specialists and academics.
In 2020 she created a programme of online tours called Cultural Travels from Home, with live visits by special arrangement broadcast from a number of major European art galleries allowing virtual access to their collections, from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice to the Castello Storzesco in Milan. The programme has included the world’s first ever livestream tours of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, the Medici Palace in Florence, the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, the Brera Art Gallery and Castello Sforzesco in Milan, the Palazzo Baldeschi in Perugia, the Palazzo Colonna and Palazzo Farnese (French Embassy) in Rome, the National Gallery of Slovenia and many more. The collaborations continue to raise important funds for the galleries and cultural sites as well as those working in the cultural sector.
In 2013 Siân was asked to represent the National Gallery at the international Hay Festival where she gave a number of presentations on the gallery’s recent Titian acquisitions. In 2018 she was invited to be guest lecturer on the inaugural BRAVO Cruise of Performing Arts UK alongside Katherine Jenkins, Julian Lloyd Webber and Ruthie Henshall.
Siân studied music as well as art history: she was awarded a choral exhibition at Cambridge University and a 1st for her dissertation on the paintings of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, and has appeared in a film about Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. She often arranges art tours which have a musical element, such as an evening at the opera, tickets to a concert or a visit focusing on the musical heritage of a city. In 2007 Sian was invited to give the prestigious annual T Rowland Hughes Lecture at the University of Wales, which in recent years has been given by leading figures in the art world such as Neil Macgregor, Sir Roy Strong and Sir Kyffin Williams.
Siân ran a series of free, live lectures during lockdown in 2020. These can still be viewed online for free at any time – just click here
Art History in Focus also draws on the knowledge and expertise of a number of distinguished guest and visiting lecturers, as well as curators and academics who often join us for study days and tours. Here are a few of the lecturers who have worked with us recently or who will be doing so soon:
Jacqui Ansell studied at the Courtauld Institute, specialising in the history of costume. Since 1992 Jacqui has used this wider knowledge of cultural history to tutor and write for the Open University and she also lectures for the National Gallery and Christie’s, tutoring undergraduates in the fine and decorative arts.
Maria Grazia (Grace) Barbieri
Maria Grazia Barbieri is a licensed tour guide of Rome, an official educator at the Vatican Museums and an art historian. Her dissertation was dedicated to the engravings of Andrea Mantegna and since graduating she has worked as a researcher for the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica (National Institute for Graphics) and the French Academy in Rome, where she has created an extensive database for their collection of engravings.
Rachel Billinge is one of the world’s leading conservation scientists and has played a key part in many ground-breaking investigations and discoveries at the National Gallery as part of its teams of conservators and scientists. Graduating from Oxford University, she then obtained an MA in the conservation of easel-paintings and joined the Conservation Department of the National Gallery, London in 1991. Rachel studies European paintings from the 13th to late 19th centuries; specializing in non-destructive technical analysis, particularly infrared reflectography but also macro-XRF scanning, X-radiography, stereomicroscopy, and surface-textural mapping
Professor Paul Binski
Paul Binski is Emeritus Professor of the History of Medieval Art at Cambridge University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and was Slade Professor, Oxford University, 2006-7. His publications include Westminster Abbey and the Plantagenets (1995), Becket’s Crown. Art and Imagination in Gothic England 1170-1300 (2004), Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style 1290-1350 (2014) and most recently Gothic Sculpture (2019). He now writes widely on general issues of aesthetics, rhetoric and the visual arts in the Middle Ages and is at present publishing a series of lectures on architecture and affect in the Middle Ages.
Dr Xavier Bray (pictured)
Dr. Xavier Bray was Assistant Curator of 17th and 18th Century European paintings at the National Gallery, chief curator at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and is now the director of the Wallace Collection. In 2009 he curated the exhibition The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700 which received unanimous praise for its profound and sensitive examination of a subject which was previously unfamiliar to British audiences.
Marco is a well-known artist living in Siena, just a few steps away from the famous Cathedral and Museo dell’Opera. He specialises in replicating the work of the great Sienese painters of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance such as Duccio and Simone Martini.
Martin Clayton is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Collection, and curator of ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist’ which took place at the Queen’s Gallery in 2012
Sarah Dunant is an award-winning writer, historian, critic and broadcaster, and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s “A Point of View”. She has published thirteen novels and lectures regularly around the world at literary festivals and conferences. Her most recent books, set within the Italian Renaissance, weave cutting edge historical scholarship into fast moving popular fiction. These have been best sellers in Britain and America and have been translated into thirty languages. They include Blood and Beauty, The Birth of Venus and In the Name of the Family.
Andrew Graham Dixon
Andrew Graham-Dixon is one of the leading art critics and presenters of arts television in the English-speaking world. He has presented numerous landmark series on art for the BBC, including the acclaimed A History of British Art, Renaissance and Art of Eternity, as well as numerous individual documentaries on art and artists. For more than twenty years he has published a weekly column on art, first in the Independent and, more recently, in the Sunday Telegraph. He has also written a number of acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present.
Dr Elena Greer
Dr Elena Greer is the curator of Kingston Lacy in Dorset. She was formerly Assistant Curator of Renaissance paintings and Author at the National Gallery, specialising in early Italian and German Renaissance painting. She has also worked in the curatorial departments of the British Museum, the Royal Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Dr Greer wrote her doctoral thesis on the political, economic and art-historical context of the National Gallery’s collection and policies at the end of the nineteenth century and has published widely on Italian painting and the history of collecting.
Dr Arnika Groenewald-Schmidt
Dr Groenewald-Schmidt is Assistant Curator at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna. She received her PhD from Dresden University and has held both pre- and post-doctoral fellowships from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London and New Haven. Before joining the Belvedere she worked as curatorial assistant at the National Gallery in London. In 2024 Arnika will be curating an exhibition at the Belvedere dedicated to the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
Janeen Haythornthwaite is a lecturer at Tate Britain, specialising in British and International art. She is also a director of Jaggedart, a central London art gallery that shows contemporary art by both British and overseas artists.
Professor Deborah Howard
Deborah Howard is Professor Emerita of Architectural History in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. Her principal research interests are Italian Renaissance art and architecture; music and architecture in the Renaissance; and the relationship between Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean. Her recent books include Sound and Space in Renaissance Venice (with Laura Moretti, 2009); Venice Disputed (2011); The Sacred Home in Renaissance Italy (with Mary Laven and Abigail Brundin, 2018); and Proto-Industrial Architecture in the Age of Palladio (2021, in English and Italian editions). Deborah was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010.
Mr Keates is an eminent author whose works include biographies of Handel and Purcell and The Siege of Venice. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Trustee of the London Library and former President of Venice in Peril.
Dr Ross King
Ross King is a bestselling author whose publications include Brunelleschi’s Dome (2000), Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling (2002), The Judgment of Paris (Governor General’s Award, 2006), and Leonardo and The Last Supper (Governor General’s Award, 2012). He has also published two novels (Domino and Ex-Libris), a biography of Niccolò Machiavelli, and a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s fables, jokes and riddles. He is the co-author of Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743 (2015) and his most recent publication The Bookseller of Florence (2021) has also received outstanding reviews.
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb is an award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster. She is Emeritus Professor at the University of Roehampton, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a columnist for History Today. Suzannah was formerly a Research Curator at Hampton Court Palace, and has won awards for her work in the heritage sector. Suzannah is well-known as a broadcast historian, having written and presented numerous documentary series.
Helen is the Assistant Curator of Modern British Art at Tate Britain and has worked on a number of exhibitions including Picasso and Modern British Art.
Christopher Marinello is a lawyer and the CEO and founder of CEO Art Recovery International LLC. As one of the world’s foremost experts in recovering stolen, looted, and missing works of art and has become uniquely proficient in negotiating complex title disputes between collectors, dealers, museums and insurance companies. He has been involved in several of the best-known restitution cases on behalf of foreign governments and heirs of Holocaust victims to recover stolen artwork and cultural property. Chris successfully recovered the first work of art (Matisse’s Femme Assise) to be restituted from the infamous Gurlitt hoard and was responsible for the recovery by the heirs of Parisian art dealer Paul Rosenberg of several Nazi-looted artworks held in Museums and private collections
Dr Antonio Mazzotta
Dr Antonio Mazzotta is a lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Milan and one of the world’s leading experts on the work of Giovanni Bellini. He is also a curator and scholar specialising in Venetian and Lombard art of the Renaissance and the history of collecting. He studied Art History at the University of Milan and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and worked as Curatorial Assistant at the National Gallery in 2008-2010, where he curated the exhibition Titian’s First Masterpiece: The Flight Into Egypt (2012). In 2018-2019 he curated an exhibition at the Castello Sforzesco (Milan) on the origins of the iconography of Michelangelo’s Pietà (Vesperbild: Alle origini delle Pietà di Michelangelo). In 2023 Dr Mazzotta co-curated Titian 1508: At the Beginning of a Luminous Career at the Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice. His main research topics are Venetian and Lombard art of the Renaissance, and the history of collecting.
Lesley Miller is Senior Curator of Textiles and Fashion at the V&A and Professor of Dress and Textile History at the University of Glasgow. She has led the curatorial team on the reinterpretation of the V&A’s Europe 1600-1815 Galleries at the museum over the last five years. She has taught History of Design for over 20 years, specialising in tradition and innovation in the European fashion and textiles trades of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Jane da Mosto
Jane is an environmental scientist and international consultant on sustainable development. Since 2001, she has been working with Venice in Peril and Cambridge University to develop an independent platform for examining scientific information concerning the current state and future of Venice. In 2004 she published The Science of Saving Venice. Since 2012 she has been fully engaged in trying to change the future of Venice and for Venetians as co-founder of “We are here Venice”.
Philip Mould O.B.E. is one of the country’s foremost authorities on British art. An art dealer, writer and broadcaster, he is perhaps best known for his regular appearances on Antiques Roadshow and for his hit BBC television programme Fake or Fortune?, co-presented with Fiona Bruce, which has uncovered a number of lost masterpieces. He has published two books on art discovery Sleepers: In Search Of Lost Old Masters and Sleuth: The Amazing Quest for Lost Art Treasures and is the director of Philip Mould & Co, a gallery specialising in British art and Old Masters.
Dr Cetty Muscolini
Dr Muscolini is an eminent art historian and author, and the Director of the Museo Nazionale di Ravenna.
Dr Amy Orrock
Dr Orrock is an independent art historian and curator, and formerly Senior Curator at Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park. She has published and lectured widely on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Northern European art and curated ‘Cranach: Artist and Innovator’ (Compton Verney, 2020), ‘Painting Childhood: From Holbein to Freud’ (Compton Verney, 2019), ‘Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty’ (The Holburne Museum, 2017) and ‘Rubens and Women’ (Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2023).
Dr Duncan Philips
Dr Duncan Philips is a Chartered Building Surveyor and one of the leading experts in the field of building conservation with over 35 years experience. He is author of ‘The Essential Guide to Buying and Owning a Listed Building’ and lectures regularly on building conservation and architectural history topics. He is Professor of Architectural Conservation at the Centre for Building Conservation Studies, a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and Chair of the RICS Building Conservation Steering Group.
Leslie Primo studied at Birkbeck College and is a highly experienced National Gallery lecturer as well as one of the Art Society’s most sought-after speakers. He teaches regularly for Imperial College, City Lit and the Bishopsgate Institute and recently featured on Art at the BBC, in which he discussed the works of Michelangelo and Turner. Leslie’s latest book will be published by Thames & Hudson in Spring 2023.
Dr Raffaele Romano
Dr Romano is an archaeologist specialising in the iconic heritage of the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and a licensed tour guide of Naples. He holds a degree in Archaeology, an M.A. in Classical Archaeology and a Ph.D. in Archaeological Heritage, with a thesis on Pompeii. Dr Romano has excavated at Pompeii and is part of an international team of archaeologists researching the northern side of Vesuvius. He has also worked as an archaeologist for the Vatican. In 2019 the city of Pompeii awarded him honorary citizenship and in March 2021, during an excavation at Pompeii, Dr Romano found the remains of an extra-urban villa, an exciting discovery which has received much international coverage.
Sarah Quill, a trustee of the Venice in Peril Fund, has worked for many years in Venice, building up a photographic record of the city’s architecture, sculpture and daily life. Her book Ruskin’s Venice: The Stones Revisited (2000) was re-published in a new edition in 2015.
Vernon Rapley is now the Director of Cultural Heritage Protection & Security at the V&A Museum in London and was for many years the Head of the Art & Antiques Unit at Scotland Yard. During that time Detective Sergeant Rapley investigated all manner of art and cultural property crime and managed to recover an incredible 60% of reported stolen art, making him one of the most successful art detectives in history. He was also responsible for the arrest of a number of famous forgers such as John Myatt and the famous Greenhalgh family. Vernon is also Special Advisor for the UK Government’s Cultural Heritage Protection Fund, the founder and chairman of the National Museum Security Group and Chairman of the Security of Major Museums Europe Group.
Dr Luisella Romeo
Luisella Romeo is one of Venice’s most experienced and well-known guides and co-founder of The Best Venice Guides Project. “Venice is the city where my family comes from, where I studied and where I live, not just where I work. I consider my job a true privilege. To show Venice is not just a way to be immersed in incredible history and art heritage, it is also a responsibility. What fascinates me especially is the possibility of intertwining the narration of Venice and its past with its present time”. Art History in Focus is delighted to be collaborating with Luisella on a new concept – virtual Venetian travel – working with major art museums in order to create live online cultural tours using the latest technologies.
Guy Rooker is an orthopaedic surgeon and well-known Nadfas lecturer with a special interest in the relationship between art and anatomy, and the remarkable contribution made to our understanding of the subject by Leonardo da Vinci.
Patrick O’Sullivan is Head of Art Handling at the National Gallery, where he has worked since 2005.
Peter Schade is Head of Framing at the National Gallery in London. Few of the National Gallery’s paintings still retain their original frames but Peter Schade has spent many years sourcing, creating, carving and adapting examples which complement the paintings historically. Recent projects have included the creation of a spectatular new frame for Sebastiano del Piombo’s Raising of Lazarus, and six matching frames for the Titian: Love Desire Death exhibition in 2020.
Dr Jennifer Sliwka
Dr Sliwka is Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Prior to that, she was Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London and Senior Lecturer in Christianity & the Arts, a collaborative MA with the National Gallery London. Dr Sliwka is a specialist in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. Her exhibitions have included Monochrome: Painting in Black and White and Visions of Paradise which featured new research on Botticini’s Palmieri altarpiece and other paintings made for the Florentine church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence. She has also held curatorial and research positions at the National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Dr Richard Stemp
Richard Stemp works as a lecturer at the National Gallery, Tates Modern and Britain, Buckingham Palace and the Wallace Collection in London, and across Europe with Art History Abroad. His books include The Secret Language of the Renaissance and a follow-up on Churches and Cathedrals, and he has written and presented two series for Channel 4 Television, Art in the National Gallery and Tate Modern.
David Taylor s an independent art historian, curator and writer, and an expert on 16th and 17th century portraiture. He was previously the National Trust’s Curator of Pictures and Sculpture, and before that was Senior Curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (National Galleries of Scotland).
David Wertheim is one of the world’s leading experts on Japanese prints, and director of the Japanese Gallery in London.
An art historian and artist, Colin wwas Head of Education and Special Projects Curator at the National Gallery, from where he retired in 2016. He was responsible for the Associate Artist scheme, inviting leading contemporary artists to take up residencies at the gallery. He worked closely with Paula Rego during her time as the first Associate Artist at the Gallery and was the curator for the consequent exhibition. He also curated the National Gallery’s exhibitions of work by artists such as Frank Auerbach, Bridget Riley and Anthony Caro. Colin is also a practicing printmaker, with work in various collections including the Los Angeles County Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.