Professor Liz Prettejohn
Professor of History of Art



BA (Harvard), MA, PhD (Courtauld Institute of Art)

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Liz studied American art and architecture at Harvard University, before moving to London to study British and French art at the Courtauld Institute. She has worked as Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and held chairs at the Universities of Plymouth and Bristol. Liz joined the York department in 2012 and served as Head of Department until 2016.

Liz is an active guest curator and has co-curated exhibitions on Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and John William Waterhouse. In 2011 she gave the Paul Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery, London, on ‘The National Gallery and the English Renaissance of Art’.

Departmental roles

  • Head of Department (2012-16)
  • Senior Management Team
  • Research Committee
  • Teaching Committee
  • Graduate Studies Committee




  • Receptions of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance art
  • Victorian painting and sculpture
  • The Pre-Raphaelites
  • Victorian Aestheticism
  • Art Criticism (particularly Water Pater, Roger Fry)
  • Relationships between philosophical aesthetics and art practice

Liz’s research early in her career was motivated by curiosity about the low status of British (especially Victorian) art in academic art history. Her books on the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement assessed the achievements of Victorian artists and placed them in relation to European Modernism. Her work on the critical fortunes of Victorian art has led to a more general interest in taste and aesthetics, explored in her books Beauty and Art 1750-2000 (2005) and The Modernity of Ancient Sculpture: Greek Sculpture and Modern Art from Winckelmann to Picasso (2012). Her book Modern Painters, Old Masters: The Art of Imitation from the Pre-Raphaelites to the First World War (2017) argues that Victorian artists were, paradoxically, at their most original when they imitated the Old Masters most faithfully.


Liz is working on a new project provisionally entitled Revaluations: The Story of British Art from the Death of Rossetti to the Stock Market Crash. This will make use of the recent dramatic increase in availability of digital images of works of art to examine a much wider range of artistic production, from the years 1880-1930, than the current scholarly literature acknowledges. It will ask how the consideration of this wider range of work can change our understanding of international modernism in this period, and of its relations both to the art of the past and to the art of more recent periods.

Research group(s)



Liz’s current and recent PhD supervisions include the following research areas:

  • Aesthetic Interiors
  • Costume in the Productions of Herbert Beerbohm Tree
  • Mirrors in Victorian Painting
  • Darwin and Beauty
  • The Classical Nude in Romantic Britain
  • Country House Collections: Tyntesfield and Dartington
  • Lawrence Alma-Tadema
  • Murray Marks: Dealing in Chinese Porcelain and Renaissance Bronzes
  • Frederick Sandys and Victorian Illustration
  • John Singer Sargent
  • Graham Sutherland
  • The Contemporary Art Society
  • The 'Generation of 1863' as transnational network
  • Abraham Solomon
  • William Etty
  • Representations of Witchcraft, Spiritualism, and the Dark Arts in Victorian Britain
  • The Caryatid in Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • Artists on Capri
  • Nineteenth Century Female Sculptors
  • Interwar British Art and the Apocalypse
  • German Traveller-Artists in Chile
  • Leighton’s Landscapes
  • The Influence of British Art on Bohemia 1848-1914
  • The New Gallery 1888-1910
  • Edward Burne-Jones
  • Ancient Erotic Art in Nineteenth-Century Museums
  • Faith and Fantasy in Late-Nineteenth Century English Art and Literature
  • Art Patronage in Victorian Britain
  • Simeon Solomon
  • Ambrose McEvoy
  • Frances Hodgkins and Cedric Morris
  • Representations of Battle and Conflict in Victorian Art
  • Music as Ideal Art
  • Flowers in the Art of Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • The Artistic Legacy of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal


Selected publications


  • Modern Painters, Old Masters: The Art of Imitation from the Pre-Raphaelites to the First World War, Yale University Press, 2017
  • (co-edited, with Charles Martindale and Stefano Evangelista), Pater the Classicist: Classical Scholarship, Reception, and Aestheticism, Oxford University Press, 2017
  • (with Peter Trippi and others), Lawrence Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, exhibition catalogue, Prestel, 2016
  • The Modernity of Ancient Sculpture: Greek Sculpture and Modern Art from Winckelmann to Picasso, I.B. Tauris (New Directions in Classics), 2012
  • The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites (editor),Cambridge University Press, 2012
  • Art for Art’s Sake: Aestheticism in Victorian Painting, Yale University Press, 2007, Winner of the 2008 Historians of British Art Book Award in the Single-Author, Post-1800 category.
  • Beauty and Art 1750-2000, Oxford History of Art series, Oxford University Press, 2005
  • The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites, Tate Publishing and Princeton University Press, 2000; paperback edition 2007
  • After the Pre-Raphaelites: Art and Aestheticism in Victorian England (editor) , Manchester Univeristy Press and Rutgers University Press, 1999
  • Frederic Leighton: Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity (co-editor, with Tim Barringer), Yale University Press, 1999
  • Interpreting Sargent, Tate Publishing, 1998
  • Rossetti and his Circle, Tate Publishing, 1997

Recent articles

  • 'Ford Madox Brown and History Painting', Visual Culture in Britain 15, 2014, pp. 239-257
  • ‘Twenty-first Century Millais’, Victorian Literature and Culture 37, 2009, pp. 287-91
  • ‘Solomon, Swinburne, Sappho’, Victorian Review 34, Fall 2008, pp. 103-28
  • ‘Art Writing Now’ (review article on T.J. Clark, The Sight of Death, and Peter de Bolla, Art Matters), Art History 30, November 2007, pp. 769-77
  • ‘From Aestheticism to Modernism, and Back Again’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, issue 2, May 2006
  • ‘Lawrence Alma-Tadema and the Modern City of Ancient Rome’, Art Bulletin LXXXIV, March 2002, pp. 115-29


Contributions to Exhibitions and Exhibition Catalogues (selected)

  • ‘Leighton’s Last Academy’, in Flaming June: The Making of an Icon, Leighton House Museum, London, 2016
  • ‘Botticelli and the Pre-Raphaelites’, in Botticelli Reimagined, London: Victoria and Albert Museum and Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, 2015-
  • ‘La question de la peinture d’histoire en Grande-Bretagne’ in L’Invention du Passé: Histoires de coeur et d’épée en Europe, 1802-1850, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, 2014
  • ‘In Dialogue with Antiquity: Alma-Tadema’s Studio Houses’, in In the Temple of the Self: The Artist’s Residence as a Total Work of Art: Europe and America 1800-1948, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, 2013
  • ‘The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy’, in Tim Barringer, Jason Rosenfeld, and Alison Smith (eds), Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, Tate Britain, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, 2012-13
  • ‘Aestheticism in Painting’ and ‘Late Paintings’ in The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement in Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, April-July 2011, pp. 64-83, 238-41
  • ‘Introduction: Life, Legend and Landscape: A Miscellany’, in Joanna Selborne (ed.), Life, Legend, Landscape: Victorian Drawings and Watercolours, The Courtauld Gallery, London, 2011, pp. 8-16
  • ‘Lawrence Alma-Tadema: Phidias showing the frieze of the Parthenon to his friends’, in Penelope Curtis, On the Meanings of Sculpture in Painting, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 2009-10, pp. 106-8
  • ‘Frederic Leightons Klassizismus’, in Margot Th. Brandlhuber and Michael Buhrs (eds), Frederic Lord Leighton 1830-1896: Maler und Bildhauer der viktorianischen Zeit, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, 2009, pp. 32-77
  • ‘Pre-Raphaelite Beauty’, in Mikael Ahlund (ed.), The Pre-Raphaelites, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2009, pp. 53-65
  • Solomon’s Classicism’, in Colin Cruise and others, Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, and Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, 2005-06
  • ‘Images of the Past in Victorian Painting’, in Angus Trumble (ed.), Love and Death: Art in the Age of Queen Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2001, pp. 85-91
  • ‘Out of the Nineteenth Century: Roger Fry’s Early Art Criticism, 1900-06’, in Christopher Green (ed.), Art Made Modern: Roger Fry’s Vision of Art, The Courtauld Gallery, London, 1999, pp. 31-44
  • ‘La Real Academia Victoriana: Mercado moderno e institución tradicional’, in La era Victoriana: un siglo de pintura Británica, Museo Nacional de San Carlos, Mexico City, 1997, pp. 42-52
  • ‘Checklist of Samuel Courtauld’s Acquisitions of Modern French Painitngs’ and ‘Modern Foreign Paintings and the National Art Collections: Anthology of British Texts, 1905-32’, in John House, Impressionism for England: Samuel Courtauld as Patron and Collector, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, 1994, pp. 221-52

Other publications (selected)

  • 'Seeing and Making Art in Rome: Carel Vosmaer's The Amazon', in Timothy Saunders and others (eds), Romans and Romantics, Oxford University Press (Classical Presences series), 2012
  • ‘Medea, Frederick Sandys, and the Aesthetic Moment’, in Heike Bartel and Anne Simon (eds), Unbinding Medea: Interdisciplinary Approaches to a Classical Myth from Antiquity to the 21st Century, Legenda, 2010, pp. 95-112
  • ‘Art’, in Francis O’Gorman (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture, Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 195-218
  • ‘Reception and Ancient Art: The Case of the Venus de Milo’, in Charles Martindale and Richard Thomas (eds), Classics and the Uses of Reception, Blackwell, 2006, pp. 227-49
  • ‘The Pre-Raphaelite Model’, in Jane Desmarais, Martin Postle, and William Vaughan (eds), Model and Supermodel: The Artist’s Model in British Art and Culture, Manchester University Press, 2006, pp. 26-46
  • ‘Between Homer and Ovid: Metamorphoses of the “Grand Style” in G.F. Watts’, in Colin Trodd and Stephanie Brown (eds), Representations of G.F. Watts: Art Making in Victorian Culture, Ashgate, 2004, pp. 49-64
  • ‘The Modernism of Frederic Leighton’, in David Peters Corbett and Lara Perry (eds), English Art 1860-1914: Modern Artists and Identity, Manchester University Press, 2000, pp. 33-52
  • ‘Leighton: The Aesthete as Academic’, in Rafael Cardoso Denis and Colin Trodd (eds), Art and the Academy in the Nineteenth Century, Manchester University Press, 2000, pp. 33-52
  • ‘ “The monstrous diversion of a show of gladiators”: Simeon Solomon’s Habet!’, in Catharine Edwards (ed.), Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in European Culture, 1789-1945, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 157-72
  • ‘Undermining the Archive’ (review article on Dianne Sachko Macleod’s Art and the Victorian Middle Class), Art History 20, December 1997, pp. 616-22
  • ‘Aesthetic Value and the Professionalization of Victorian Art Criticism 1837-78’, Journal of Victorian Culture 2.1, Spring 1997, pp. 71-94
  • ‘Locked in the Myth’ (review article on Tate Gallery exhibition and other publications on James McNeill Whistler), Art History 19, June 1996, pp. 301-7
  • ‘Morality vs. aesthetics in critical interpretations of Frederic Leighton, 1855-1875’, Burlington Magazine CXXXVIII, February 1996, pp. 79-86

External activities

Editorial duties

  • 2018-ongoing: Publications Committee, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • 2006-13: Editorial Board, Art History
  • 2001-08: Editorial Board, Journal of Victorian Culture; 2008- (ongoing) Editorial Consultant

Professional Service

  • 2015-ongoing: Committee for Society, Arts and Letters, British School at Athens
  • 2008-14: Tate Britain Council and Tate Collections Committee
  • 2007-12: Advisory Council, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • 2005-10: Advisory Board, Cambridge Victorian Studies Group (Leverhulme Trust five-year project: 'Past versus Present in Victorian Britain: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress')

Curated Exhibitions and Exhibition Catalogues

  • Alma-Tadema: Klassieke Verleiding / Lawrence Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, Fries Museum, Leeuwarden; Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna; Leighton House Museum, London, 2016-17: guest co-curator with Peter Trippi and Ivo Blom (exhibition concept awarded Turing Toekenning I, 2015; finalist for the 2017 Global Fine Art Awards: Best Impressionist and Modern (1838-WWII) Solo Artist Exhibition
  • J. W. Waterhouse (1849-1917): The Modern Pre-Raphaelite, Groninger Museum, the Netherlands; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; co-curated with Peter Trippi, Robert Upstone, and Patty Wageman, 2008-10
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, co-curated with Julian Treuherz and Edwin Becker, 2003-04
  • Adrian Stokes, Arnolfini, Bristol, June 2002
  • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, co-curated with Edwin Becker and others, 1996-97
  • Imagining Rome: British Artists and Rome in the Nineteenth Century, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, co-curated with Michael Liversidge, 1996
  • Characters and Conversations: British Art 1900-1930, Tate Gallery Liverpool, co-curated with Fiona Bradley, 1996-97

Invited talks and conferences

Conference organisation (selected)

  • Arnolfini Histories, co-organised with Claire Yearwood, National Gallery, London, 12-13 January 2018
  • Alma-Tadema: Antiquity at Home and On Screen, co-organised with Ian Christie, Peter Trippi, Sarah Victoria Turner, and Maria Wyke, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, 19-21 October 2017
  • Were we right to fire the canon (if we ever did)?, co-organised with Tania Demetriou and Charles Martindale, University of York, 19 May 2016
  • Pater the Classicist: An Interdisciplinary Symposium, co-organised with Stefano-Maria Evangelista and Charles Martindale
    University of Bristol, 30 June – 1 July 2012
  • Study Day on John William Waterhouse,
    The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, 2 September 2009
  • The Modernity of Ancient Sculpture, co-organised with Charles Martindale
    University of Bristol, 25-26 July 2009
  • `The laurel, the palms and the paean`: Gardens of the Aesthetic Movement, co-organised with Tim Mowl
    The Institute for Garden and Landscape History, Hestercombe Gardens Trust, and University of Bristol, 30 June 2007
  • Future Directions for the Study of Victorian Art, co-organised with Tim Barringer
    University of Bristol, 16 May 2007
  • Art History and the Aesthetic, co-organised with Charles Martindale
    Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 5-7 April 2006
  • Art History and the Uses of Reception, co-organised with Charles Martindale
    Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, University of Bristol, 31 March-2 April 2005
  • Kant’s Third Critique: Its Value in the Arts and Humanities Today, co-organised with Charles Martindale and Carolyn Wilde
    University of Bristol, 24-25 April 2004
  • Adrian Stokes: Centenary Conference, co-organised with Stephen Bann
    University of Bristol, 28-30 June 2002
  • Making Exhibitions - Making Art History, co-organised with Fiona Bradley, Penelope Curtis, Sarah Hyde, and Helen Smailes
    Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, University of Southampton, 9-11 April 1999
  • Edward Burne-Jones, co-organised with Tim Barringer and Nicola Bown
    Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, 8-9 January 1999
  • Philistine and Aesthete in Victorian Britain
    Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, 12-14 April 1996
  • Lord Leighton and the Victorian Art World, co-organised with Tim Barringer
    Victoria & Albert Museum Study Day, 2 March 1996


Liz Prettejohn

Contact details

Prof. Liz Prettejohn
Professor of History of Art
Department of History of Art
Room V/234



Victorian Art


The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites

Office hours: Mondays 2-3pm and Tuesdays 4-5pm.