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Sally Woodcock

Dr Sally Woodcock is an easel paintings conservator and technical art historian. Her longstanding interest in the trade in artists’ materials in nineteenth-century Britain began at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, examining the papers of the Victorian artists’ colourman Charles Roberson. She is currently preparing her PhD thesis, Charles Roberson, London colourman, and the trade in artists’ materials 1820─1939, for publication.

While an affiliated researcher Sally will continue to contribute to the Hamilton Kerr Institute’s work on its colourmen’s archives, as well as developing a related research project entitled The Starving Artist: the romance and reality of suffering for art in the long, hard nineteenth century. This combines the history of art with social and cultural history in order to illuminate the lives of the lower ranks of British nineteenth-century artists. Its central aim is to identify what caused these artists to fail in an era when many British painters experienced unprecedented prosperity, and to assess the influence of artistic failure on the art market and the art history of the period. In addition, comparing unsuccessful artists’ actual experiences with the trope of the starving artist through a cultural survey of art, music and literature, from the sophisticated to the sensationalist, will investigate how new theories about madness, genius and creativity shaped the public perception of the artist, revealing both the myth and the reality of suffering for art in nineteenth-century Britain.

Dr Woodcock would like to acknowledge the past support of the Leverhulme Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art as well as the Faculty of History and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge.

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