AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Studentship on ‘Art Patronage and Court Influence 1660–1714’

University of Oxford and Tate

The History Faculty, Oxford University, in collaboration with Tate, is pleased to offer an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award, starting in October 2017.

The award will enable a student to pursue doctoral research in early modern court studies and visual culture while gaining first-hand experience of work within a museum setting. The successful candidate will be enrolled at and receive their degree from the University of Oxford.

Principal supervisor: Dr Hannah Smith (History Faculty and St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford). Second supervisor: Tabitha Barber (Tate Britain)

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The Art Patronage and Court Influence 1660–1714 doctoral project will investigate and analyse courtier art patronage from 1660 to 1714, and interrogate the still prevailing scholarly view that by 1714 the court had declined as a sphere of cultural influence.

Until recently, it has been the supposition that by 1714 the court had waned as a vital force in politics and cultural influence. Instead of the court being the leader in terms of fashion and art patronage, to which others aspired, new avenues opened up as alternatives, notably with the growth of the public sphere. Now, however, new research has shown that this appraisal is unduly negative. Queen Anne’s court, and those of her successors, were in fact far more culturally active and aware than has been credited, and throughout the period the court remained the location where political networks might be established and political and social status reinforced.

While new research has focused on individual monarchs, the collecting and commissioning activities of those attending court have been largely neglected by scholars, leaving significant gaps in our knowledge and understanding. This project will aim to address this gap. The successful candidate will be encouraged to explore, through a series of case studies, the collecting and commissioning activities of significant individuals that speak to questions concerning court culture. The individuals could be female and male courtiers, great aristocrats, influential royal household officers and politicians, as well as figures seemingly beyond the court such as wealthy City merchants and financiers. Relevant sources such as inventories, accounts, diaries and letters, as well as the art itself in country house collections, will be used to address the central question – whether, or the extent to which, the court remained a relevant source of inspiration and aspiration; whether alternative art patronage networks opened; and the possible types of interaction between such networks.

The student will have scope to develop their interests widely within the parameters suggested above. More specifically, the project will develop alongside an exhibition English Baroque 1660–1714 in preparation at Tate Britain. The student will assist in the development of this exhibition. It is expected that the student’s contribution will include developing case studies which provide evidence to underpin and enhance our understanding of particular aspects of the show and its arguments; presenting research as part of Tate’s talks and tours; as well as other forms of engagement. In addition, it is also expected that the student will research and write summary texts on relevant artworks in Tate’s collection for Tate’s website following internal guidelines. This will provide the student with early opportunities to publish research and gain experience in writing for the public and specialists.



Applications are invited from candidates with a strong academic background in a relevant area of British art history and/or history. Applicants should hold (or expect to achieve), in a relevant area of British history and/or art history, a Master’s degree with merit or distinction and either a 1st Class or Upper 2nd Class Honours degree.

The award is funded through the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme and is subject to the AHRC’s terms (all candidates should check the AHRC eligibility guidelines to confirm their eligibility for funding). The studentship includes tuition fees up to the standard Home/EU amount and an annual maintenance grant. Note that overseas students are not eligible for AHRC awards (except under specific circumstances) and EU students need to assess whether they are eligible for fees and maintenance or fees only. The AHRC doctoral award does not include funds for travel but please note that the student will be able to apply for external grants that would help to enable travel in the region. Collaborative Doctoral Partnership awards provide funding for 3.5 years, including a period of six months for research training.


Application procedure

Applications should be made through the Faculty of History by inserting the reference code 17AHRC-CDA in the Departmental Studentship Applications section of the standard University graduate application. You will need to apply for both the programme and this studentship via the main University online graduate application form, and pay the application fee. To access the application form and application guide please visit our online prospectus at www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/apply.


Candidates who have already been offered a place on the DPhil in History or DPhil in History of Art and wish to be considered for this studentship are invited to submit an expression of interest to the History Graduate Office (graduate.admissions@history.ox.ac.uk) by the deadline.

Candidates may be required to write a summary text as part of the interview process.


Application deadline: 22 May 2017

Interviews: 13 June 2017 (Tate Britain)


Prior to application candidates may wish to discuss their proposal informally with both Dr Hannah Smith (hannah.smith@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk) and Tabitha Barber (Tabitha.Barber@tate.org.uk) .

Further information

The successful student will join a large cohort of doctoral students at Oxford University as well as a thriving research community at Tate. For more information about doctoral students at Tate, see http://www.tate.org.uk/about/our-work/tate-research/research-posts/studentships. For more details about the AHRC scheme see AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership.


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