Past Events

Rossettis: In Relation

Conference – Caitlin Meehye Beach, Natalie Prizel, Timothy Barringer, Helen Bratt-Wyton, Tara Contractor, Suzanne Fagence Cooper, Helena Cox, Eduardo De Maio, Nicholas Dunn-McAfee, Imogen Hart, Debbie Hicks, Thomas Hughes, Sadbh Kellett, Deborah Lam, Mark Samuels Lasner, Sophie Lynford, Roisin Neenan, Wendy Parkins, Elizabeth Prettejohn, Jennifer Rabedeau, Kimberly Rhodes, Marte Stinis, Frances Varley, Megan Williams, Glenda Youde

  • 15 to 16 June 2023
  • Thursday 15th 13.00–17.15 (plus Private View) and Friday 16th June 10.00–16.15
    Conference to be held at Tate Britain (Clore Auditorium)

Tate Britain’s current exhibition The Rossettis suggests a different model for thinking about how artists’ careers and lives are shaped – not as the singular and self-contained subjects often presented by a monographic approach – but one that is relational, collaborative and part of familial and professional networks. While the exhibition is centred around Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal, the conference will use this model as methodology, exploring how the work of art and life are enmeshed. We encourage interventions that look at and go beyond these artists to think through intermedial relationships between the poetic, pictorial, musical and decorative arts. The Rossettis exhibition also prompts discussion of the relationship of the arts to activism, organising, politics and labour. Contemporary artists and writers continue to draw on the work of these artists, directly and obliquely. What does it mean to think about the Rossettis (plural) today?

Day 1: Thursday 15 June, Tate Britain

13.00–13.30 – Registration and refreshments in Clore Foyer

13.30–14.00 – Welcome and opening comments Sarah Victoria Turner (Paul Mellon Centre) and Carol Jacobi (Tate Britain)

14.00–15.15 – Panel 1: Methodologies Chair: Liz Prettejohn (University of York)

(Three × 15-minute papers + 30 minutes conversation)

Natalie Prizel (independent scholar), “Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Race Relations”

Imogen Hart (independent scholar), “Dorothy Walker and May Morris in Relation”

Kimberly Rhodes (Drew University), “Shakespeare’s Sisters: Sororal Subterfuge and Pre-Raphaelite Identity”

15.15–16.00 – Refreshments in Clore Foyer

16.00–17.15 – Panel 2: Relationships Chair: Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre)

(Three × 15-minute papers + 30 minutes conversation)

Glenda Youde (University of York), “A Complex Relationship: Gabriel, Christina and Elizabeth Rossetti”

Wendy Parkins (University of Otago, New Zealand) “‘I Never Quite Gave Myself’: Pre-Raphaelite Women and Gifts of Creative Exchange”

Jennifer Rabedeau (doctoral candidate, Cornell University), “Pre-Raphaelite Women in Relation”

17.15-18.30 – Drinks Reception in Grand Saloon

18.30-19.30 – Private view of the Rossettis

Gallery Talks (five minutes each, given twice at 18.40 and 19:00)

  1. Debbie Hicks (Oxford University), “The Model Paints Back: Marie Spartali’s Reformation of Rossettian Aesthetics”
  2. Suzanne Fagence (writer, curator, broadcaster), “’Shall I Find Comfort?’: Jane Morris and the Rossettis”
  3. Megan Williams (University of Surrey), “Helen and Olivia Rossetti: Art and Anarchy”
  4. Helen Bratt-Wyton (National Trust), “Rossetti, Pre the Pre-Raphaelites”
  5. Mark Samuels Lasner (University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press), “The Lock of Elizabeth Siddal’s Hair”
  6. Amy Griffin & Gabriella Macaro (Tate), “A new view of Rossetti’s technique, dilitante or workaholic?”

Day 2: Friday 16 June, Tate Britain

10.00–10.20 – Registration and refreshments in Clore Foyer

10.20–10.30 – Welcome

10.30–11.45 – Panel 3: Close Reading Chair: Nicholas Dunn-McAfee (University of York)

(Three × 15-minute papers + 30 minutes conversation)

Thomas Hughes (The Courtauld Institute of Art), “Transformation in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s La Ghirlandata (1873) in Relation to Christina Rossetti”

Marte Stinis (University of York and the Netherlands Institute for Art History), “Love and Longing: Intermedial Relationships Between Painting and Music in the 1850s”

Roisin Neenan (PhD student, University of St Andrews) “'Absorption is Not Annihilation’: Kisses and Originality in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Poetry and Art”

11.45–12.00 – Comfort break

12.00–13.15 – Panel 4: Labour(ing) and Art(work) Chair: Tim Barringer (Yale University)

(Three × 15-minute papers + 30 minutes conversation)

Deborah Lam (University of Bristol), “Hard Work, Soft Work: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Effort in Relation”

Frances Varley (The Courtauld Institute of Art), “Making Meaning in Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel at the Manchester Art Museum”

Tara Contractor (The Philadelphia Museum of Art), "The Little Sister Art’: The Rossettis and the Illumination Revival”

13.15–14.15 – Lunch (not provided)

14.15–15.30 – Panel 5: International Exchanges Chair: Eduardo De Maio (University of York)

(Three × 15-minute papers + 30 minutes conversation)

Helena Cox (art curator at the University of York and PhD candidate in History of Art), “Czeching Out the Rossettis – Artistic and Literary Networks Mediating Pre-Raphaelite Art in 1900s Czech Lands”

Sophie Lynford (Delaware Art Museum), “The Rossettis in America”

Sadbh Kellett (University of St Andrews), “’Better than the Lancelot of Arthurian Legend’: Katharine Tynan, Gaelic Mythology, and the Pre-Raphaelites”

15.30–16:30 – Conversation reflecting on the themes of conference and exhibition with Carol Jacobi, Liz Prettejohn, Tim Barringer, Caitlin Meehye Beach and Sarah Victoria Turner

This conference is a collaboration between Tate Britain, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the History of Art Department at the University of York.


Price £5. Tickets for sold separately for each day. Please book through Eventbrite.

About the speakers

  • Caitlin Meehye Beach

    Caitlin Meehye Beach is assistant professor of art history and affiliated faculty in African and African American studies at Fordham University. She is interested in the ways sculpture and the decorative arts intersect histories of racial formation and racial capitalism. Her first book, Sculpture at the Ends of Slavery, was published by the University of California Press in 2022 as a recipient of the Phillips Book Prize. Other work has appeared in British Art Studies, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Caitlin is currently at work on a new project on art, labour and nineteenth-century Asian America, and for the academic year 2023–24 will serve as co-director to Fordham’s newly established programme in Asian American studies.

  • PRIZEL, Natalie

    Natalie Prizel is a scholar of nineteenth-century British art history and literature as well as of queer and disability theory. Most recently she was a senior fellow in European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and prior to that, the Haarlow-Cotsen Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows. Prizel has also served as a visiting assistant professor of literature and gender and sexuality studies at Bard College. Her work has been published in Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, GLQ, Victorian Poetry, Literature Compass and other venues. Her first book, Victorian Ethical Optics: Innocent Eyes and Aberrant Bodies is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She is currently working on another book project called Pre-Raphaelite in Black, treating the influence of Italian Renaissance art on the Pre-Raphaelites in their depiction of Black subjects.

  • Tim Barringer headshot.

    Tim Barringer is Paul Mellon Professor the Department of the History of Art at Yale University, of which he was Chair from 2015 to 2021. He specializes in British art and art of the British Empire. Books include Reading the Pre-Raphaelites (1999) and Men at Work: Art and Labour in Victorian Britain (2005). He co-edited Frederic Leighton (1998); Colonialism and the Object (1998); Art and the British Empire (2007); Victorian Jamaica (2018) and On the Viewing Platform (2020). He was co-curator of American Sublime (Tate, 2002); Art and Emancipation in Jamaica (Yale, 2007); Before and After Modernism (2010); Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde (Tate, 2012); Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills (2015); Thomas Cole’s Journey (Metropolitan, 2018) Picturesque and Sublime (Catskill, 2018) and Radical Victorians (2019-22). He gave the Paul Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery, London, in 2019, on Global Landscape. He is currently completing a book Broken Pastoral: Art and Music in Britain, Gothic Revival to Punk Rock.

  • Helen Bratt-Wyton is Senior Collections and House Manager at the National Trust, Wightwick Manor and Gardens and has a twenty-five-year association with Wightwick’s collection. Helen has spoken at numerous conferences on the Pre-Raphaelites with a particular interest in the women in the group. Her other specialisms include William Morris and May Morris on whom she has published original research. In 2019 Helen curated an exhibition at Wightwick Manor and Gardens on a collection of early drawings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti from 1846–1848; Rosetti pre the Pre-Raphaelites. Fourteen works have been loaned to the Tate/Delaware exhibition from Wightwick’s collection.

  • Tara Contractor is the Assistant Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has previously held positions at the Bruce Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Yale Center for British Art, where she was a guest curator of the exhibition Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin. She holds a PhD from Yale University and an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her research has been recognised with support from the Delaware Art Museum, the Huntington Library and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

  • Suzanne Fagence Cooper is a writer, broadcaster and curator with expertise in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British art and culture. She spent twelve years at the V&A Museum, researching the Victorian collections, and is a consultant for TV and film. She is an invited lecturer for the Arts Society and Cunard voyages, and an honorary visiting fellow at the University of York.

    Suzanne was Research Curator for Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud (York Art Gallery, 2019). Her publications include Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, Ruskin and Millais (Duckworth, 2010), To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters (Quercus, 2019) and her latest book is How We Might Live: At Home with Jane and William Morris (Quercus, 2022).

  • Helena-Cox is an art historian and curator of Czech origin currently finishing her PhD at the University of York where she also works as the inaugural Art Curator. Helena previously worked at the National Museum in Prague where she researched Czech and Japanese art in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, co-authored three monographs and a series of articles. Helena’s current research focuses on the Czech reception of British Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art, with her latest publication being an essay in the edited volume Pre-Raphaelite Sisters published by Peter Lang in 2022. Helena’s research interests span Czech, British and Japanese art with focus on cultural transfer and intercultural dialogues. As a curator at the University of York, Helena oversees a collection of over nine hundred artworks of mainly British modern art. As the first curator in the University’s history, Helena is passionate about making art on campus accessible to students and the public.

  • Eduardo De Maio is a PhD candidate at the University of York. His research investigates the phenomenon of cultural interchange between Britain and Italy at the turn of the twentieth century. His interests include curatorial and museum studies, history of art-magazines, history of art trade, cultural internationalism, Futurism, social and political engagement in art. Eduardo was a research fellow at the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York in 2022, and an Associate Editor of the University of York’s History of Art Department journal Aspectus: A Journal of Visual Culture from 2019 to 2021. Eduardo is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of York and has collaborated with cultural institutions, notably the Henry Moore Institute in 2019, and the York Museum Trust in 2020, and in cultural projects in Italy. Eduardo contributes to art magazines and is a member of the British Art Network and PMC Doctoral Research Network.

  • Nicholas Dunn-McAfee is a doctoral researcher at the University of York. His work – supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council – explores the image-word 'double works of art' of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and how visual-verbal forms enable us to say, think, or do things that could not otherwise be said, thought, or done. His criticism and research has been published in The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, Yellow Nineties 2.0, Vides, and Aspectus.

  • Imogen Hart is a specialist in the theories, objects and sites associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. After completing her PhD at the University of York, she worked at the Yale Center for British Art and the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Arts and Crafts Objects (2010) and co-editor of Rethinking the Interior, ca. 1867–1896: Aestheticism and Arts and Crafts (2010) with Jason Edwards, and Sculpture and the Decorative in Britain and Europe, Seventeenth Century to Contemporary (2020) with Claire Jones. Other recent publications include a special issue of Art History on British Art and the Global (2022), co-edited with Dorothy Price, and peer-reviewed articles on exhibitions of modern British craft and the interiors of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Imogen serves on the executive boards of the William Morris Society in the United States and the Historic Interiors Group of the Society of Architectural Historians.

  • Debbie Hicks is a doctoral researcher at Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Her interdisciplinary DPhil thesis explores the semiotics of desire, the limits of representation and the transcendental signified in the poetic and pictorial works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), Elizabeth Siddal/l (1829–1862) and Marie Spartali Stillman (1844–1927). As a producer Debbie specialises in the development and delivery of new writing, particularly new musicals and immersive work.

  • Thomas Hughes is an associate lecturer at the Courtauld. He co-edited Ruskin’s Ecologies: Figures of Relation from Modern Painters to The Storm-Cloud (2021) with Kelly Freeman and has published essays on Ruskin, drawing and ecology (2022); on Ruskin, temporality and Venetian Gothic (2021); and on subjectivity and language in art-historical writing (2020). He is co-editing with Emma Merkling a book redefining the Victorian idyll, and co-editing with Rachel Stratton a special issue of Journal 21 on realism. He has an essay on Ruskin and Pater at Amiens Cathedral to be published soon by Éditions de la Sorbonne in an edited volume on couples and art history.

  • Sadbh Kellett is an Irish PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews researching the relationship between Gaelic mythology and national identity in modern Irish and Scottish literature. She is also working on her debut novel Hunt the Hare with her agent Sabhbh Curran at Curtis Brown. In 2022, Hunt the Hare was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s Discoveries Award. Kellett is a recipient of the Professor A F Falconer Memorial PhD Scholarship. She has also been a recipient of Meath County Council's Professional Artist Development Fund as well as the Irish Arts Council's Agility Award, for work on her novel.

  • Deborah Lam is a lecturer in English at the University of Bristol. Having recently received her PhD in late summer 2022, her thesis looked at the Pre-Raphaelite circle in relation to the poet John Keats. She has been invited to give talks and lectures at Keats House in London, and is currently revising a monograph on forms of excess in nineteenth-century literature and visual culture. Continuing her interests in relationality, Deborah is also working on a second interdisciplinary book project that considers how art writing frames an approach to thinking about the visible signs of effort in art.

  • Mark Samuels Lasner is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Delaware Library. His publications include The Bookplates of Aubrey Beardsley, The Yellow Book: A Checklist and Indexand A Selective Checklist of the Published Work of Aubrey Beardsley, as well as exhibition catalogues co-authored with Margaret D. Stetz. With Stetz he is organising a Max Beerbohm exhibition for the New York Public Library, a follow-up to Aubrey Beardsley, 150 Years Young, recently on view at the Grolier Club. In 2016 Mark donated his collection of more than 9,500 rare books, manuscripts, artworks and ephemera relating to Victorian literature and art to the University of Delaware.

  • Sophie Lynford is the Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art at the Delaware Art Museum. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century British and American art, with a focus on the trans-Atlantic Pre-Raphaelite movement. Prior to joining the Delaware Art Museum, she was the Rousseau Curatorial Fellow in European Art at the Harvard Art Museums, the Douglass Foundation Fellow in American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and she worked in the curatorial department of the New-York Historical Society. Her book, Painting Dissent: Art, Ethics, and the American Pre-Raphaelites, was published by Princeton University Press in 2022. She is the venue curator of The Rossettis exhibition at Delaware Art Museum, which opens in October 2023 after its close at Tate Britain.

  • Roisin Neenan is a third year PhD student in the School of English at the University of St Andrews. Her thesis focuses primarily on the kiss in Victorian poetry, and explores how a selection of poets, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti, use the kiss to imagine poetic influence. She is a recipient of the Ewan & Christine Brown Studentship.

  • Wendy Parkins has published widely on the life and work of William and Jane Morris, including Jane Morris: The Burden of History (2013) and William Morris and the Art of Everyday Life (2009). Formerly Professor of Victorian Literature at the University of Kent, she is now a writer and researcher based at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • Elizabeth Prettejohn is Professor of History of Art at the University of York and has been a devoted student of the Rossetti family throughout her career. Her books include Rossetti and his Circle (1997), The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites (2000), Art for Art's Sake (2007), The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites (2012), and Modern Painters, Old Masters: The Art of Imitation from the Pre-Raphaelites to the First World War (2017). With Julian Treuherz and Edwin Becker, she co-curated the exhibition on Dante Gabriel Rossetti held in 2003-4 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

  • Jennifer Rabedeau is a doctoral candidate in English literature at Cornell University, where she researches nineteenth-century literature, visual and material culture, book history, historiography and the processes of national and imperial formation. Her thesis, The British Eye: Ornament, Nation & Empire in Victorian Britain, argues that ornament, despite its marginal or decorative status, played an essential role in consolidating British identity in the context of expanding empire. She is currently a Huntington Library Exchange Fellow at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library at the University of Manchester, where she is conducting research on the Pre-Raphaelite network. Alongside her research, she is working on two co-edited collections: a handbook on Victorian medievalisms and a volume of essays entitled Material Pedagogies, which offers fresh perspectives on incorporating material artifacts and cultural objects in the humanities classroom.

  • Kimberly Rhodes occupies the positions of National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities and is a professor of art history at Drew University in Madison, NJ. She is the author of numerous publications regarding the figure of Ophelia in Victorian and contemporary visual culture, including the book Ophelia and Victorian Visual Culture: Representing Body Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Ashgate, 2008). Her most recent work investigates the representation of deer in British visual culture through an ecocritical lens, featuring published essays on such various topics as John Constable’s views of the deer park at Helmingham Hall, the depiction of deer hunting in the Netflix series The Crown, and the encounter of Jaques and the wounded stag in William Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.

  • Marte Stinis is a research associate with the University of York and the Netherlands Institute for Art History, and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Paul Mellon Centre. She holds a PhD in History of Art from the University of York, in which she specialised in the relationship between British painting and music in the nineteenth century. She has published widely on the intermedial relationships between the two arts, including articles on Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler. Marte frequently speaks at international conferences and is co-organiser of an international, interdisciplinary research group which investigates non-Western modernities in the arts and humanities.

  • Frances Varley is an associate lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she is also completing her PhD. Her research focuses on collections – broadly defined – in Manchester and Philadelphia in the late-nineteenth century, exploring them as tools through which identities could be articulated, negotiated and buttressed, as well as fractured. She has delivered papers at conferences organised by the Association for Art History, Yale University, and the Courtauld, and has been a guest lecturer at the National Gallery, London. She holds an MA from the Courtauld and a BA from the University of Oxford.

  • Megan Williams is a TECHNE-funded PhD student at the University of Surrey working in English literature. Her project reads late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature in the context of contemporaneous anarchist thought and praxis, showing that anarchism’s widespread influence on the production, circulation and reception of literature at this time created new socio-aesthetic relationships across class, gender and national boundaries. In part, her work explores the anarchist activities of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's nieces, Helen and Olivia.

  • Glenda Youde received her doctorate from the University of York for her thesis entitled Beyond Ophelia: The Artistic Legacy of Elizabeth Eleanor Rossetti (née Siddall). Together with Robert Wilkes, Glenda co-organised the successful conference Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Making Art held at the University of York in December 2019 and co-edited Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Art, Poetry and Female Agency in Victorian Britain (Peter Lang, 2022). Her published essays include ”A Cuckoo in the Wrong Nest” (Pre-Raphaelite Society Review autumn 2022) and “Dante Gabriel and Elizabeth Rossetti: The Artistic Partnership” in the The Rossettis exhibition catalogue (Tate Gallery 2023).