Sculpture Studies


About Sculpture Studies

York is uniquely situated in Britain as a centre of sculptural studies, having a significant number of scholars of international repute, with expertise in all aspects of sculpture in the western tradition, from the Late Antique and early medieval through to the modern, postmodern and contemporary periods.

The Department has had considerable success in attracting AHRC and private funding for all areas of sculpture studies, having received Henry Moore Foundation Lectureships and Post-doctoral Research Fellowships, and its graduates have gone on to hold lectureships and key positions in museums, galleries and publishing in Europe and North America.

Resources and expertise

The School has particular research strengths in a number of fields and is able to draw on a remarkable wealth of resources available nearby.

In addition to its expertise in the area of the European and North American sculpture from 1945 to the present, the modernist sculpture of both Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth is among the region’s most famous resources.

There are also collections of classical and neo-classical works, accumulated during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and housed throughout the region, which form another rich source of research material.

And in the field of medieval sculpture the city of York and its surroundings make the Department a premier location for those seeking to combine the study of medieval sculpture with first-hand acquaintance of the objects themselves.

Sculpture on campus

In 2017 History of Art students Joelle Warmbrunn, Tascha von Uexkull and Lily Cheetham produced a wonderful Sculpture Trail for campus, with contribution also from Carlos Gonzalez Diaz (Computer Science). 
You can download the trail and information about the University of York's sculptures here: Sculpture Trail map (PDF , 903kb).

Sculpture in Yorkshire

While Yorkshire is unique in England for the number of surviving works of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture, the city and its outlying area are equally famous for extant later medieval sculptures (in wood and stone), and the thriving sculptural workshop attached to the Minster.

There are, furthermore, two internationally significant centres for sculptural display and study: the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which won the Art Fund Museum of the Year award in 2014, and the Henry Moore Institute, which has an internationally significant archive and annual lecture symposium and exhibition programme.

The research library at the Institute is excellent, with strong holdings particularly in the modern and contemporary period.

York is also extremely well connected for national and international travel. There is no requirement for doctoral candidates to live in York, and students needing to conduct their research outside York are encouraged to do so.


Research areas

As a research group active in all areas of theoretical and historical sculpture studies, we welcome scholars interested in pursuing significant and original research from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds, and historiographic and methodological perspectives.

We are particularly keen to promote researchers seeking Henry Moore Foundation post-doctoral research fellowships in the Department, and would welcome collaborations with the Visiting Research Fellowship Programme at the Henry Moore Institute.

Our interests

The Department is keen to develop research at masters, doctoral and post-doctoral level in the following areas:

  • Post-1945 Modern and Contemporary Sculpture, and related art
  • Sculpture in American post-war art
  • Relationships between sculpture and experimental film
  • Twentieth-Century Modernism in Europe and America
  • English Modernist Sculpture
  • The Lady Lever Sculpture Collection
  • The Sculpture of the Gothic Revival
  • Pre-Raphaelite and the New Sculpture
  • Eighteenth-century Sculpture
  • Italian Renaissance Sculpture
  • Italian Baroque Sculpture / Architecture / Decoration (inter-relationships and possibilities)
  • Late fourteenth to early sixteenth-century sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands
  • Twelfth- to fifteenth-century sculpture and monumental art in Britain and North-west Europe
  • The presentation and display of early medieval sculpture
  • The historiography of early medieval sculpture
  • The iconography of early medieval sculpture in Britain and Ireland


Research staff



Research students

Current students

  • Charlotte Drew
    The formation and early development of the sculpture collections of the South Kensington Museum
  • Claire Hildreth
    Exploring the Eccentricities and Anachronisms of Gothic Revival Sculpture in the Nineteenth Century
  • Eoin Martin (University of Warwick, member of York-Warwick AHRC research project 'Displaying Victorian Sculpture')
    Victoria and Albert and sculpture
  • Melanie Polledri
    Networks, Connections and Ambition: The work of Sir William Goscombe John 1899-1942
  • Cicely Robinson
    The National Gallery of Naval Art at Greenwich
  • Rebecca Senior
    The Death of Allegory: Problems of the Funerary Monument 1750-1850
  • Lyndsey Smith
    Ivory Carvings in Early Medieval England
  • Rachel Smith
    The International Context of the Art of St Ives 1948-60
  • Robert Sutton
    The Educational Roots of Henry Moore's Public Works, 1939-1951
  • Philippa Turner
    Image and Devotion in Late Medieval English Cathedrals
  • Gabriel Williams
    Sculpture at the Victorian International Exhibitions

Recent postgraduates

  • Kirsty Breedon
    Sculpture in the Circum-Atlantic World: Herbert Ward’s Congolese Bronzes in Europe and America 1884-present
  • Sarah Burnage
    Life and work of John Bacon
  • Cora Gilroy-Ware
    The Classical Nude in Romantic Britain
  • Claire Jones
    Between Art and Design: Sculptors and Design Reform in France, 1848-1895
  • Elizabeth McCormick
    Casts, Catalogues, and Curators: Acquisition and Display of Early Medieval Sculpture in National Museums, c. 1850 to 1950
  • Magdalena Skoblar
    Eleventh-century figure sculpture in early medieval Croatia



Undergraduate modules

  • Making Art in the Era of Nixon: Between Minimalism and Postmodernism
  • The Modernist Object
  • Museology
  • British Art since the Second World War
  • New York Modern: From the Armory to the Factory
  • Realism and Surrealism: Art and Politics between the Wars
  • Sculpture in the Twentieth Century
  • Modernism
  • The Cultures of Sculpture, 1815-1918
  • Art and Patronage in fifteenth-century Florence
  • European Art of the High Middle Ages
  • The Art of Anglo-Saxon England, c.600-1066
  • Art and Iconoclasm in 16th Century Northern Europe
  • Art and Visual Exchange in Northern Europe c. 1380-1530
  • Impacts of the Late Antique, c.350-850

Postgraduate modules

  • Encountering Modernism
  • German Art in the Twentieth Century: Die Brücke to Baselitz
  • Bauhaus and Weimar Culture
  • Structures, Sign and System: an Approach to Constructivism
  • Nostalgia, Conservatism and Modernity: Modernism in France and England , 1914-1940
  • Sculpture in Britain 1848-1930
  • Art and Aestheticism in Late Victorian Britain
  • The Domestic Interior in Italy, 1400-1550
  • Glory of Gothic: Art for England c.1400-1547
  • Art as Urban Culture in fifteenth-century Bruges and Florence
  • Art and Imagery in York Minster
  • Monastic Patronage of the Arts, 1080-1280
  • Churches and High Crosses: The Art of Stone in Anglo-Saxon England
  • Scrolls and Serpents: The Arts of the Early Insular World (c.600-900 AD)