BA (Oxon), MA (London), PhD (V&A Museum / Brunel)
Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper is an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Department of the History of Art.
Her research is focused on 19th and 20th Century British art and design, with a special interest in the history of women and the interior. Her doctoral research considered the relationship between art and music in Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic art, and she has continued her interdisciplinary approach in her work on Burne-Jones and William Morris, Rossetti and Millais, and photographers Cameron and Hawarden.
She was a curator and Research Fellow at the V&A Museum for 12 years. At the V&A she worked in the Exhibitions team, and on the 19th century British Galleries redisplay. She was closely involved with a number of exhibitions including ‘Carl and Karin Larsson’, ‘The Power of the Poster’, and ‘Christopher Dresser’. She was a consultant for the exhibition on ‘The Cult of Beauty: Aestheticism in Britain’ (2011), and in 2001 co-curated ‘Inventing New Britain: the Victorian Vision’.
She was convenor and Chair of ‘The Victorian Interior’ conference at V&A Museum (2003), and convenor of ‘The Heart of England: art, design and the landscape’ study day in 2005. In 2006-7 she organised a series of interdisciplinary workshops with the Royal College of Music on ‘The Music Room: music and the domestic interior’.
In 2010-11, Dr Fagence Cooper was an associate lecturer in the Faculty of Art at the University of Bern, offering an MA module related to the ‘Aestheticism in Britain’ exhibition at the V&A. From 2013-2014 she was Course Director at the Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street. Here she developed her interest in 20th century and contemporary art.
In 2017-2019 she was Research Curator at York Art Gallery for the major exhibition, ‘Ruskin, Turner and Storm Cloud’. Her post and the exhibition publication were supported by grants from the Paul Mellon Centre. She also published two books on Ruskin for the bicentenary celebrations: ‘To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters’ (Quercus) and ‘The Ruskin Revival’ (Pallas Athene).
She has worked as a consultant for a number of TV and film projects. In 2012 she was historical consultant to Ralph Fiennes, director of ‘The Invisible Woman’, for a film about Charles Dickens. She was also an advisor for the BBC drama series, ‘The Living and the Dead’ (2016) set in the 1890s, and for an Agatha Christie film, ‘See How They Run’ (2022).
Her latest book is ‘How We Might Live: At Home with Jane and William Morris’ (2022). This joint biography reconsiders the life and work of Jane Morris, and the art and homes she made together with her husband.
She lectures for Cunard and the Arts Society, and is a tour director for Ace Cultural Tours. She is also a trustee of the Burne-Jones Catalogue Raisonné.
Dr Fagence Cooper’s current research interest include visions of Creation and Apocalypse in the art of Burne-Jones. She has a continuing interest in questions of gender and design history in the 19th and early 20th centuries. She has also been reconsidering the relationship between the visual arts, literature and music.
Dr Fagence Cooper published her biography of Effie Gray, wife of John Ruskin and then John Everett Millais, in 2010. Her previous books include Pre-Raphaelite Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum (2003). This study presented works of art in many media which had not been previously photographed or researched. It covered textiles, ceramics, furniture, book illustrations, and jewellery as well as paintings and works on paper.
In conjunction with the 2001 exhibition ‘The Victorian Vision’, she published The Victorian Woman, and co-authored The Victorians at home and abroad with Paul Atterbury.
Her essay, ‘Burne-Jones as Designer’ was included in the Tate Britain catalogue, ed. Alison Smith, for the exhibition ‘Edward Burne-Jones’ (2018).
In 2019 she co-edited the exhibition publication for ‘Ruskin, Turner and the Storm Cloud’, with Richard Johns, and contributed an essay on ‘Ilaria and Rose: Ruskin’s Grief’.
For the Ruskin bicentenary in 2019, she wrote ‘To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters’, (Quercus) as an introduction to Ruskin’s life and work, and ‘The Ruskin Revival, 1969-2019’ (Pallas Athene). Her lecture ‘Stones and Lilies: Ruskin’s legacy since 1969’, given at the National Gallery Ruskin conference in 2019, was published in the Journal of Art Historiography, June 2020
Her articles include ‘The Liquefaction of Desire: Music, Water and Femininity in Victorian Aestheticism’, in Women: a cultural review, August 2009 and ‘Aspiring to the Condition of Music: Painting in Britain 1860-1900’ in ed. Dibble and Zon, Nineteenth Century British Music Studies (2002). She has also written for APOLLO, with ‘The British School at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857’ published in 2001. Her essay, ‘Through the Looking Glass: photographs by Clementina, Lady Hawarden 1822-1864’, was published in The British Art Journal, winter 2019/2020. An article on ‘Storm Clouds and the Sea of Ice: Ruskin in the Alps’ is forthcoming, The Ruskin Review.
Dr Fagence Cooper reviews books and exhibitions for the Church Times.
Suzanne Fagence Cooper has co-taught an MA module, The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites and The Art of the Raj.
She has previously taught at the University of Bern and Buckinghamshire New University.
Dr Fagence Cooper is an invited speaker for Cunard. She is also a lecturer for The Art Fund and The Arts Society, and gives talks on 19th and 20th century art to Societies from Edinburgh to Gibraltar. She has led online courses for the Watts Gallery, including ‘Music and Victorian Art’ (2022).
She has worked as an historical consultant for the BBC, Channel 4 and on film projects. She has also been a contributor for BBC TV and radio programmes.
She has been invited to speak at literary festivals including Cheltenham, Wigtown and Fowey.
She is a member of the Ruskin Today network and a Companion of Ruskin’s Guild of St George. The Guild has awarded her a Companion Grant to coordinate an ecotherapy course at St Nick’s Fields in York, taking Ruskin’s writings and pictures into the community.