Joanna Woodall

Joanna Woodall


  • Strand, Somerset House

    WC2R 0RN London

    United Kingdom


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Joanna Woodall read history at the University of York, with a year abroad at Vassar College. She trained as an art historian at The Courtauld Institute of Art and began her PhD research at the University of Cambridge, as Speelman Fellow in Dutch and Flemish Art. Having spent several years in curatorial work at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford, and a year on a Leverhulme Fellowship at the University of Leiden, she joined the academic staff of The Courtauld Institute of Art in 1986 as Lecturer in Netherlandish Art. From 2002-2005 Joanna was Deputy Director, Head of Studies, with responsibility for the teaching and research programmes, widening participation and staff development. She has since returned to her research and teaching.

Joanna has published widely in Art History, the Berliner Jahrbuch, the Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek and the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek. Her edited book, Portraiture: Facing the Subject (Manchester University Press, 1997), has become a standard work on the subject and in 2007 she published a major monograph, Antonis Mor: Art and Authority (Waanders), that uses this sixteenth-century, internationally renowned portrait specialist to explore a period of extraordinary change, involving both opportunities and dangers (reviews by Walter Melion and Konrad Jonckheere).

The creative and educational potential of collaboration has been a longstanding interest. Joanna’s previous work in conjunction with others includes the exhibitions Rubens. A Touch of Brilliance (2003-4) in the Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House,  and Self Portrait. Renaissance to Contemporary (2005) at the National Portrait Gallery.  Another joint collaboration gave rise to Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 59 in 2009. This volume of twelve essays is concerned with the ways in which Netherlanders negotiated their positions in relation to varied, often contested ideas of what it meant to be an artist at a time when relations between a community of craftsmen and elite individuals, between consciousness of a native tradition and membership in an international humanist society, between image and word, between hand, mind and spirit, were being actively defined.

Joanna is responsible for the website Picturing the Netherlandish Canon, an online project focused on a crucial early modern text on Netherlandish art and culture: Hendrick Hondius the Elder’s print series of artists, Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris, effigies (The Hague 1610)This makes accessible online English translations by Daniel Hadas of the Latin texts relating to these prints and includes essays by Joanna Woodall and Stephanie Porras. Designed by Eva Bensasson, the website has an interactive dimension.

Research interests

  • Joanna’s current research relates to her involvement with the NWO project ‘Trading Values. Cultural Translation in Early Modern Antwerp’, for which she is working on the relationship between money and virtue.
  • She is interested more generally in Netherlandish art from about 1540-1670, particularly painting and prints, in the broader context of developments in European art and the construction of knowledge.
  • She has a longstanding interest in portraiture, especially early modern portraiture, with some forays into modern and contemporary portraiture. This extends to self-portraiture and the artist as a figure for subjectivity in the early modern period.
  • She is concerned with broader issues of realism, including the significance of the copy, translation, the relationship between realism and desire.


  • MA History of Art: Bodies of Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands 1540-1660
  • MA Curating the Art Museum

PhD Students


  • Austėja Mackelaitė, ‘Encounters in the Eternal City: Netherlandish Drawings after Ancient Sculpture in Rome, 1522-1617’
  • Albert Godycki, Inventing the ‘Mannerist’ Body in the Early Dutch Republic, c. 1575 – 1615

Recently Completed

  • Deborah Babbage Iorns, Companionship and Collaboration: Rembrandt’s Pendant Marriage Portraiture
  • Thomas Balfe, The Animal and the Edible in the Work of Joannes Fyt (1611-61)


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