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Cora Gilroy-Ware



BA (University of Sussex), MSt (Oxon), PhD (University of York)

Cora received her PhD from the University of York as part of an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral project with Tate Britain looking at the classical nude in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century British art. Her research on obscure areas of the Tate collection resulted in an extensive series of catalogue essays for the Tate website, and Bodies of Nature: Classical Pleasure 1780-1840, an exhibition of paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings centred on Bacchanalian imagery. During postdoctoral fellowships at Naples L’Orientale University, the Huntington Library, the California Institute of Technology, and University College London, she rewrote her thesis into a monograph, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain, published in April 2020 by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. At the Huntington she curated a second exhibition on the representation of the infant putto from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Her next book project looks at engagements with Greco-Roman form among artists of colour—particularly those of African and indigenous American descent—from the 19th century to the present day. She has written on contemporary art for publications such as The White Review, the London Review of Booksand Art-agenda. Cora’s scholarship finds expression in her own visual art practice; she is currently working on a series of pictorial photographs using 19th century processes, and performs under the name Fauness. 



  • Visual classicisms from the 18th century to the present
  • Theories of ideal beauty 
  • Gender, race and racialisation in British and American art, especially with regard to black and indigenous figures 
  • Sculpture and materiality 
  • Pictorial photography
  • The rural in contemporary art 
  • Decoloniality

Cora’s research explores continuities between historic and contemporary, ancient and modern. Her doctoral project on the surprisingly under-researched classical nude in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century British art led to her first book, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain, and a broader interest in neglected chapters in the history of visual classicism. As a scholar of BIPOC heritage, she seeks to reconcile decolonial approaches with traditional art historical areas of concern. With support from the Henry Moore Foundation, she is currently at work on a second book project on adaptations of Greco-Roman art, particularly marble sculpture, among artists of African and indigenous American descent including Mary Edmonia Lewis, Augusta Savage, Selma Burke, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kara Walker. She has collaborated with the photographer Ingrid Pollard on a project exploring the image and experience of black figures in rural England, and has recently edited a book for Isaac Julien CBE RA in conjunction with the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, on the life of the freedom fighter Frederick Douglass, the most photographed man the 19th century America.

Her work with both Pollard and Julien has informed a new project Cora is working on alongside her next book. Illustrated by her own pictorial photographs, “The Lost Pleiad” is a speculative visual and verbal history of the conditions that would have allowed a black female visual artist to become known in 19th century England, and the conditions that inhibited the emergence of such a figure. Expanding the category of “artist”, the project aims to create space for new ways of writing, and presenting, the history of art. 


Cora has held grants and received funding from the AHRC, the Yale Centre for British Art, the Huntington Library, the Marc Fitch Fund and the Henry Moore Foundation. 



  •  The Classical Body in Romantic Britain (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2020)

Edited Collections

  • Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour (Isaac Julien Studio in conjunction with the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, and the University of California Santa Cruz, forthcoming 2021)

Selected Articles

  • ‘Knowledge-Montage: Page 3, Poetic Sculpture and Print’, X-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly 22:2 (winter 2019), 29-44.
  • ‘Antonio Canova and the Whatever Body’, Open Library of Humanities (2017).


  • ‘A Vindication of Fashion and Beauty: Amelia Rauser’s The Age of Undress’, APOLLO (forthcoming September 2020).
  • ‘Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s “Paintings…”’, Art-agenda, online, July 15 2020
  • ‘At Tate Modern: Kara Walker’s Fon Americanus’, London Review of Books 42:3, February 6 2020.
  • ‘Our Inner Syren: The Beguiling Syren is Thy Crestat the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw’, X-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly,
  • ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat: Boom for Real’, The White Review,
  • ‘Melting Beauty: Cindy Sherman at the Broad’,X-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly,

Catalogue Texts

  • ‘British Worthies’ (with Paul Gilroy), essay for catalogue The Lie of the Land (an exhibition at MK Gallery Milton Keynes), Milton Keynes: MK Gallery, 2019.
  • ‘William Etty’s Female Nude with a Cast of the Venus de’ Medici’: Corporeal Possibilities beyond the “Graceful Bend”, essay catalogue for Life, Legend, Landscape: Victorian Drawings and Watercolours (an exhibitionat the CourtualdGallery, 2011), London: Paul Holberton, 2011.



External Activities


  • ‘Belonging and un-belonging in the English countryside’ (with Ingrid Pollard), day of performances at MK Gallery, May 6 2019. 
  • ‘Spirit Boys: Infant Gods and Putti on Paper’, exhibition of prints and drawings) Huntington Art Gallery, April-July 2016.
  • ‘Bodies of Nature: Classical Pleasure 1780-1840’ exhibition of painting, sculpture, prints and drawings, Tate Britain, April 2013-May 2014.

Conferences Organised

  • ‘1802: Cultural Exchange Between Britain and France During the Peace of Amiens’ (with Paris Spies-Gans and Dena Goodman)two day interdisciplinary conference held at the Huntington Library, May 2019.
  • ‘Printed Stone: Sculpture and its Images’ (with Brigid von Preussen), day conference held at University College London’s Institute for Advanced Studies, June 2017.
  • ‘The Art of Decay’ international day workshop organised at the California Institute of Technology, May 2016.
  • New Perspectives on the Romantic Period (with Thomas Ardill, Hayley Flynn, and Marion Martin) day conference at Tate Britain, November 2012.

Select Invited Talks

  • ‘Classical Forms as Icons of Female Liberty in Late Eighteenth Century Britain?’ public lecture at Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham for Art Historical London, June 2019.
  • ‘The Touchstone: Benjamin Robert Haydon’s Anti-Slavery Convention’, research seminar at the National Portrait Gallery, London, September 2018.
  • ‘A song the sweeter for a taste of pain”: the Cult of the Nymph in Early Nineteenth Century Britain’, public research lunch, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, May 2014.
  • ‘Benjamin West’s Cupid and Psyche’, public lecture at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, December 2012.

Select Conference Participation

  • ‘Inferior Beauty: the British Artist’s Gaze in the Streets and in the Louvre’, paper presented at conference, 1802: Cultural Exchange Between Britain and France During the Peace of Amiens, Huntington Library, May 2019.
  • ‘Exhibiting Sculpture, 1837’, paper presented at conference, A Year’s Art: the History of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, September 2016.
  • ‘Face to Face: Gibson, Chantrey and the Marble Bust’, breakout session for conference, Portraiture as Interaction: the Spaces and Interfaces of the British Portrait, Huntington Library, December 2015.
  • ‘Her swelling breast palpitates: Life and Death in the Works of William Hilton’, paper presented at conference, Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint, Wallace Collection, May 2015.
  • ‘“The Fragment of the Negro’s Chest”: Benjamin Robert Haydon and the “Black” Body’, paper presented at the Desiring Statues conference, University of Exeter, April 2012.

Office hours:
Please email Cora to arrange a meeting.

Contact details

Dr Cora Gilroy-Ware
History of Art