no image available

Prof Sam Smiles

Visiting Specialist

School of Humanities and Performing Arts (Faculty of Arts and Humanities)


Research co-ordinator for History of Art


BA Philosophy and History of Art, University of Cambridge.

MA Philosophy and History of Art, University of Cambridge.

PhD History of Art, University of Cambridge.

Professional membership

Association of Art Historians

Teaching interests

Western Art 1900-1970.


American art, 19th and 20th centuries.

17th-century art and architecture in England and the United Provinces.

Art historical methodology.

Australian Art, 19th and 20th centuries.


European art, 1850-1900.

Modernism in Britain between the wars.

Staff serving as external examiners

Currently external examiner MA University of Reading

Previous appointments as external examiner include:

BA University of Central England; Richmond: the American International University; University College London

BA and MPhil University of Birmingham.

MA University of Warwick; University of Nottingham.

PhD Universities of Cambridge, Warwick, Bristol, London (Birkbeck), Sydney, Melbourne, Falmouth College of Arts.

Research interests

British art c. 1750-1950. Art and the illustration of archaeological/antiquarian knowledge. Landscape. Art and historiography. The life and career of J.M.W. Turner. Visual culture in the West of England.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

1991 PhD Malcolm Jones 'The Misericords of Beverley Minster: a corpus of folkloric imagery and its cultural milieu, with special reference to the influence of Northern European iconography on late medieval and early modern English woodwork'

1995 PhD Diane Bell 'Doublecloth: history, technique, possibilities'

1998 PhD Peter Pay 'An investigation of the Sculpture/Language homology'

1999 PhD Ian Wightman 'The Landscapes of Richard Long: Perspectives on Prehistory, Space and Sculptural Form'

2002 PhD Graham Clucas 'Painting Silence'

2002 PhD Rachel Harrison 'Dorothy Elmhirst and the Visual Arts at Dartington Hall, 1925-1945'

2006 PhD Alice Strickland 'Three Officially Commissioned War Artists of the Second World War: Ethel Gabain, Evelyn Gibbs and Evelyn Dunbar'
2006 PhD Clive Easter 'Church Monuments of Devon and Cornwall, c.1660-c.1730'

Grants & contracts

1984 Visiting Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra
1987 Visiting Fellow, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
1989 Visiting Fellow, University of Western Australia
2005-2008 Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship
2008 Visiting Fellow, Research School of Humanities, Australian National University, Canberra


'Imaging British History - Patriotism, Professional Arts Practice and the Quest for Precision,' in Sheila Bonde and Stephen Houston (eds) Representing the Past: Archaeology through Image & Text, Providence: Joukowsky Institute, Brown University, (forthcoming 2008)
'John White and British Antiquity,' European Visions and American Voices, British Museum research publications online (forthcoming 2008)
 'J.M.W. Turner: space, persona, authority' in Dana Arnold and Joanna Sofaer (eds) Biographies and Space: Placing the Subject in Art and Architecture, London: Routledge, (forthcoming 2008)
'Turner and the slave trade: speculation and representation, 1805-1840,' British Art Journal,  Vol VIII, no. 3, Winter 2007 (forthcoming 2008)
'On the Waterfront: The Darker Side of The Ship and Bladebone,' Turner Society News, 107, December 2007, pp. 3-5
JMW Turner: The Making of a Modern Artist, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007
'The Art of Recording,' in Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007, London: Royal Academy, 2007, pp.123-25, catalogue entries: pp. 133-35, 137, 238, 242, 244.
‘Art and antiquity in the long nineteenth century,’ in Susan Pearce et al (eds) Visions of Antiquity: the Society of Antiquaries of London, 1707-2007, London : Society of Antiquaries, 2007, pp. 123-145.
The Turner Book, London: Tate Publishing, 2006
Light into Colour: Turner in the South West, Tate Publishing for Tate St Ives, 2006

'The Image of the Druid' in Sabine Rieckhoff and Felix Fleischer (eds) Kelten und Gallier in Geschichte, Geschichtsschreibung und moderner Ideologie (Celtes et Gaulois dans l’histoire, l’historiographie et l’idéologie moderne) (published for  Internationales Kolloquium der Professur für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität Leipzig und dem Centre archéologique européenne du Mont Beuvray, 2006, vol.1, pp. 111-122

Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image, Oxford and Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), co-editor

'Antiquity and Modern Art In Britain, c.1930-1950,' in David Barrowclough (ed.) 'Art and Archaeology:Unmasking Material Culture,' Archaeological Review from Cambridge, vol. 19.1, April 2004, pp.81-98

'Albion's Legacy: Myth, History and the Matter of Britain,' in Dana Arnold (ed.)Cultural Identities and the Aesthetics of Britishnesss, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004

'Record and Reverie: Representing British Antiquity in the Eighteenth Century' in L. Syson, M. Caygill et al. Enlightening the British: Knowledge, Discovery and the Museum in the Eighteenth Century, London: British Museum, 2003

'Ancient Country: Nash and Prehistory' in Jemima Montagu (ed.) Paul Nash: Modern Artist, Ancient Landscape, London: Tate Publishing for Tate Liverpool, 2003

'Data, Documentation and Display in Eighteenth-Century Investigations of Exeter Cathedral' in Dana Arnold and Stephen Bending (eds) Tracing Architecture: The Aesthetics of Antiquarianism, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003

'Defying Comprehension: Resistance to Uniform Appearance in Depicting the Poor, 1770s to 1830s,'  Textile History, vol. 33, no. 1, May 2002

'Equivalents for the Megaliths: Prehistory and English Culture, 1920-1950' in D. Peters Corbett and Y. Holt (eds) The Geographies of English Art, 1880-1940, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002

J.M.W. Turner, London: Tate Gallery Publishing, 2000

Eye Witness: Artists and Visual Documentation in Britain 1770-1830, Aldershot and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Press, 2000

Landscapes of Retrospection: The Magoon Collection of British Prints and Drawings 1739-1860, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, 1999, co-author of catalogue

'British Antiquity and Antiquarian Illustration' in M.Myrone and L.Peltz Producing the Past, Aldershot and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Press, 1999

Going Modern and Being British: Art, Architecture and Design in Devon, 1910-1960, Exeter: Intellect, 1998, editor and co-author of catalogue

'Dressed to Till. Representational Strategies in the Depiction of Rural Labor, c. 1790-1830' in M.Rosenthal, C. Payne, S. Wilcox (eds) Prospects for the Nation: Recent Essays in British Landscape, 1750-1880, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997

Two-way Traffic: British and Italian Art, 1880-1980, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, 1996,  co-author of catalogue

'J.H. Mortimer and ancient Britain: An unrecorded project and a new identification,' Apollo, vol. cxlii, no. 405 (new series), November 1995

The Perfection of England: Artist Visitors to Devon, c. 1750-1870, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, 1995, co-author of catalogue

The Image of Antiquity: Ancient Britain and the Romantic Imagination, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994)

'Nationalism and the Poetics of Prehistory,'Landscape Research, vol. 16, no. 2, Summer 1991.

'"Splashers", "Scrawlers", and "Plasterers": British Landscape and the Language of Criticism, 1800-1840,' Turner Studies, vol. 10, no.1, Summer 1990

'The Devonshire oil sketches of 1813,' Turner Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, Summer 1989

'Nymphs and shepherds: some reflections on European and Australian attitudes to nature in the recent work of Arthur Boyd,' Landscape Research, vol. 14, no. 1, Spring 1989

'St.Mawes at the Pilchard Season,' Turner Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, Summer 1988

'Turner in Devon: some additional information concerning his visits in the 1810s,' Turner Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, Summer 1987

'Turner in the West Country: From Topography to Idealisation,' in J.C. Eade (ed.) Projecting the Landscape, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, 1987)

'Samuel Palmer and the Pastoral Inheritance,'Landscape Research, vol. 11, no. 3, Winter 1986

Post-War Australian Painting: An Interpretation,' in Peter Quartermaine (ed.) Diversity Itself: Essays in Australian Arts and Culture, Exeter Studies in American and Commonwealth Arts, no. 1, University of Exeter Press, 1986

Reports & invited lectures


‘Imaging British History: Patriotism, Professional Arts Practice and the Quest for Precision,’ Representing the Past: Archaeology through Image & Text The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University (March)

‘John White and British antiquity: savage origins in the context of Tudor historiography,’ European Visions: American Voices, British Museum (June)


‘From the valley of vision to the M25: Samuel Palmer and modern culture’, Samuel Palmer: a British Romantic Artist Reassessed, Paul Mellon Centre, London (January)

‘James Douglas as Illustrator – Nenia Britannica in its artistic context,’ Digging up the Dark Ages – the antiquarian and archaeological exploration of the early medieval past, Centre for Medieval Studies and Dept. of Archaeology, University of Exeter (May)

‘Turner and the Dutch tradition’ Jacob van Ruisdael and the Traditions of British Landscape, Royal Academy (May)

‘Ruskin and Cambridge: Art, Education & the Achievement of J.M.W. Turner,’ Guild of St George Ruskin Lecture, Peterhouse, Cambridge (November)


‘British history and the visual arts, c. 1750-1800’ Celtic Romanticism and Gothic Revisionism, Dept of English, University of Otago, and Dept of Historical Studies, University of Bristol (January)

‘J.M.W. Turner: The Making of a Modern Artist,’ Turner, Whistler, Monet: Aesthetics, Pollution and the City, Tate Britain (April)

‘The Image of the Druid’ Celtes et Gaulois dans l'histoire, l'historiographie et l'idéologie moderne, Internationales Kolloquium der Professur für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität Leipzig und dem Centre archéologique européenne du Mont Beuvray, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Leipzig (June)


‘ “Late” Turner: some problems’ Turner 2004 New Perspectives, Barber Institute, University of Birmingham (January)

‘The Ex Great Man – Turner’s Napoleon’, Napoleon in British Eyes, University of Bristol and Holburne of Menstrie Museum, Bath (September)


'J.M.W. Turner: space, persona, authority' Biographies and Space. Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (March)

‘Paul Nash and Prehistoric Britain’ Paul Nash Symposium: Britishness, Identity and Landscape Tate Liverpool (October)


‘Practice and preservation: watercolours and their institutions in the nineteenth century’ The Golden Age of Watercolours, University of Nottingham (March)

‘Record and reverie: representing British antiquity in the eighteenth century’ Enlightening the British: Knowledge, Discovery and the Museum in the Eighteenth Century, British Museum (April)


‘Streams of Consciousness: rivers as fact and symbol’ in Water, Art and Culture, University of Nottingham (December)