David Solkin

David Solkin, FBA

Former affiliations
1975 …2022

Research activity per year

Personal profile


One of the world’s leading authorities on the history of British art, David Solkin taught for eight years at the University of British Columbia before joining The Courtauld in 1986, where he was promoted from Lecturer to Reader in 1993, and to Professor in 2002; eight years later he succeeded the late John House as Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the History of Art. In the autumn of 2007 David became The Courtauld’s first Dean and Deputy Director, a position that he anticipates occupying until the end of the academic year 2015-16.  He plans to retire shortly thereafter.

In addition to numerous articles, David has published four important books: Richard Wilson: The Landscape of Reaction (London, Tate Gallery 1982); Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven & London, Yale University Press 1993); Painting out of the Ordinary: Modernity and the Art of Everyday Life in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain (New Haven & London, Yale University Press 2008); and Art in Britain 1660-1815 (New Haven & London, Yale/Pelican History of Art series, 2015) . David was the guest curator of the exhibition Art on The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836, which took place at The Courtauld Gallery in 2001-2002. He also edited and co-authored the collection of essays that accompanied the exhibition, for which he was awarded the inaugural William M.B. Berger Prize for British art history. More recently David curated Turner and the Masters, the hugely successful exhibition which opened at Tate Britain in the autumn of 2009, before going on to the Grand Palais in Paris and the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.

Having just completed his monumental Pelican History, David is now turning his attention to an exhibition of Thomas Gainsborough’s portraits of the artist and his relations, entitledGainsborough’s Family Album, which is scheduled to open at the National Portrait Gallery in autumn 2018.

David was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2012.

Research interests

  • Eighteenth-century British drawing practices
  • The art of J.M.W. Turner
  • British art c.1660-1830
  • Early Nineteenth-Century London as World City: Spaces and Representations

Fellowships, Awards and Honours


  • Elected Fellow of the British Academy


  • Senior Fellowship, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art


  • Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship


  • Paul Mellon Lecturer, National Gallery, London (2004)  & Yale University (2005)


  • William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History (for Art on The Line exhibition, Courtauld Institute Gallery 2001-2)


  • Andrew Carnduff Ritchie Lecturer, Yale University


  • The Neale Lecturer in British History, University College London


  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship


  • Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada Research Fellowship


  • Frances Blanshard Prize for Best Dissertation in the History of Art Department, Yale University


  • Quebec Doctoral Fellowship


  • Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship


  • MA History of Art: Made in Britain: Forging a Visual Art for a Nation at War, 1793-1815, co-taught with Professor Mark Hallett, Director of Studies, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

PhD Students

Recently completed

  • Tom Ardill, ‘Between God, Art, and Mammon: Religious Painting as Public Spectacle in Britain, c. 1800-1850’ (This thesis jointly supervised with Dr Martin Myrone of Tate Britain, under the aegis of the Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • John Chu, ‘The Fortunes of Fancy Painting in Eighteenth-Century England’ (with Prof. Katie Scott) (2014)
  • Clare Backhouse, ‘Seventeenth-Century Print and Dress: The Ballads of the Samuel Pepys Collection’ (2013)
  • Andrey Shabanov, ‘The Peredvizhniki, or Wanderers: The Social History of the Artists’ Movement in Late Nineteenth-Century Russia’ (2013)
  • Kate Grandjouan, ‘Close Encounters: French Identities in English Graphic Satire c.1730-1790’ (2010)
  • Philippa Simpson, ‘Exposing the British School: The Rise of Old Master Exhibition Culture in London c.1793-1825’ (2009)

Education/Academic qualification

Yale University


The Courtauld Institute of Art


Harvard University


External positions

University of British Columbia


University of British Columbia



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