History of Art PhD Students

Take a look at what our current History of Art PhD students are researching.

Vivien Bird

Vivien Bird, History of Art PhD student

Research topic: ‘The Collection of Classical Antiquities of Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824): Antiquarianism and Connoisseurship in the Age of Enlightenment’

Vivien’s PhD research focuses on Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824) and his activities as an antiquarian, classical scholar, and collector of ancient art. His collection of antiquities – comprising ancient bronzes, coins, gems, and other ancient artefacts – and Old Master drawings was one of the most important formed in England and was bequeathed to the British Museum in 1824. During his lifetime, Knight enjoyed a considerable reputation as an art connoisseur and authority on ancient art (although his undervaluing the Elgin marbles later left an indelible mark on his reputation). The aim of this thesis is twofold: to reconstruct the formation of Knight’s collection of classical antiquities alongside their significance for his intellectual endeavours, and to reexamine Knight’s position as one of the most eminent antiquarians and connoisseurs of the late eighteenth century.

Vivien’s wider interests lie in the history of collecting, antiquarianism, art historiography, numismatics and, more broadly, the cultural and intellectual history of Enlightenment Europe.

She holds a BA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and an MA from Birkbeck College, University of London. Prior to embarking on her PhD, Vivien was the Anne Christopherson Fellow in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum (2017-2018). She is a recipient of the Francis Haskell Memorial Scholarship (2022). This research is jointly supervised by Dr Adriano Aymonino and Sir Nicholas Penny.

Review: ‘Ars Critica Numaria: Joseph Eckhel and the Transformation of Ancient Numismatics’, The Numismatic Chronicle, 2023 (forthcoming)

Albertina Ciani

Albertina CianiAlbertina holds a BA in Cultural Heritage from the University of Turin and received her Masters in History of Art from the Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna. Her final dissertation was focused on the Piedmontese sculptures of Baron Carlo Marochetti, for which she attended an internship at the Royal Collection of the Castello Ducale d’Agliè (2020/2021).

Albertina’s PhD research focuses on the analysis of the British sculptural production of Italian artists in the second half of the nineteenth century, beginning from the activity of Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-1867) and Raffaele Monti (1818-1881). The two artists’ different and multifaceted prolific activities are an ideal lens to investigate the various trends in Victorian sculpture and their relationship with official patronage and innovative industry.

Her thesis aims at studying the production of public and private sculpture in mid-Victorian Britain from the point of view of the social history of art. Her goal is to investigate how the British milieu of second half of the nineteenth century influenced and changed the sculptural production of the Italian émigrés and, vice-versa, how the peculiar characteristics of these émigrés impacted on the production of sculpture in Britain in the age of the Empire and diffusion of public celebratory sculpture.