Posted on 1 August 2009

Department news from August 2009

Dr Jason Edwards wins major AHRC award on 'Displaying Victorian Sculpture'

Following the department of History of Art's success last winter in securing its first major AHRC grant for the Court, Country, City: British Art 1660-1735 project, Dr. Jason Edwards has just won the department a second ca. £410,000 AHRC award, as the co-investigator, with Professor Michael Hatt at the University of Warwick, of a second, three-year research project, Displaying Victorian Sculpture.

While Victorian Studies has undergone a remarkable growth in the past two decades, with exhaustive research into many aspects of 19th-century British culture, scholars have almost entirely overlooked Victorian sculpture. Displaying Victorian Sculpture seeks to return sculpture to centre stage, and to re-assert the importance of sculpture to Victorian national and imperial history. The project focuses on the ubiquitous display of sculpture in 19th-century Britain and its colonies, in museums and galleries, public spaces inside and out, and in homes from royal palaces to suburban villas; and on a range of objects, ranging from cameo brooches and commemorative medals to the fountains at Osborne House.

The project, which begins in March 2010, is a collaborative endeavour involving the departments of Art History at York and Warwick with a team of curators at the Yale Center for British Art. Displaying Victorian Sculpture will also involve the participation of three important regional collections.

The project will deliver a range of internationally-significant outcomes. These will include


  • the first synoptic exhibition of Victorian sculpture anywhere in the world, opening first at the Yale Center for British Art in Spring 2013, then at a significant London venue, accompanied by a catalogue published by Yale University press;

  • a much-needed, edited collection of Victorian visual and textual sources on sculptural display, to be edited by a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of York;

  • two PhD theses, both co-supervised at the Universities of York and Warwick, the first on the question of royal patronage and the sculptural iconography of the Victorian monarchy; the second on the place of sculpture at the century's many international exhibitions; and
  • three colloquia at important regional UK museums in Glasgow, Liverpool and Cardiff

The project's widest strategic objective is to create a sustainable research culture in the field and to provoke further research, teaching, exhibitions and publications. We aim to equip the junior members of our team with the skills they need to develop the field by introducing them to the methods of high-level collaborative research, to exhibition practice and to KT strategies which will inform their future research projects. By developing cross-institutional collaboration, we shall also enable scholars in museums, and particularly those in regional collections, to re-assess their collections and how they might be presented in more historically and aesthetically compelling ways.