The Allen Fellow contributes to two flagship research projects being developed at the Centre. The first explores the history of the summer exhibitions at the Royal Academy in preparation for a major exhibition on this topic. The second will examine various facets of the collection and display of art in the country house in Britain and Ireland from the sixteenth century to the present day. In both cases, the Fellow will take particular responsibility for the on-line research resources for these projects.
In addition to these responsibilities, Jessica pursues her own academic interests within the Centre’s vibrant research programme. Her PhD research focused on both challenging the received histories of watercolour, as well as the social networks of taste formation in the fin-de-siècle. In 2017 she co-authored the catalogue Places of the mind: British watercolour landscapes 1850–1950 that accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the British Museum, and was invited to act as expert curator in residence within the Prints and Drawings Department at the Courtauld Gallery. Jessica’s research interests are broad and include art historiography, art criticism, collecting and the art market.
Jessica was previously employed as Curator of Works on Paper at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2001-9), where she was responsible for the care, acquisition, exhibition and interpretation of 8000 drawings, watercolours and prints across several venues. She curated a number of exhibitions during this period including Turner’s Journeys of the Imagination (2002) and Art Behind Barbed Wire (2004), both of which had accompanying publications. She was also the main author of British Drawings and Watercolours: Lord Leverhulme’s collection in the Lady Lever Art Gallery (2010), a fully illustrated catalogue raisonnée of around 300 eighteenth and nineteenth-century British watercolours. During this time, Jessica was a recipient of a fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art.
Jessica has a PhD in Art History from the University of Reading for which she received a three-year AHRC scholarship. She has an MA in eighteenth-century British and French art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and a BA in History from the University of Cambridge.