Professor Catherine Whistler

Professor Catherine Whistler

Supernumerary Fellow in Art History


At St John’s I am involved in activities relating to History of Art and Fine Art, such as the annual artist in residence programme.  I often act as college advisor to graduate students in History of Art and Fine Art.  I am the Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum, with curatorial responsibility for Italian art, French art before 1800, and Spanish art. 

Research Interests

My research is largely focused on Italian art, especially the life of objects and the history of collecting and display, though I often work on wider-ranging projects with interdisciplinary aspects.  

Exhibitions I’ve organised include Opulence and Devotion: Brazilian Baroque Art and, in collaboration with the Yale Center for British Art, The English Prize. The Capture of the Westmorland, an Episode of the Grand Tour.  A recent exhibition, in collaboration with the Uffizi, Florence, was Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice.  In bringing together drawings from two great centres of collecting, Oxford and Florence, this exhibition took a new look at Venetian art.  The Ashmolean showing also featured Jenny Saville Drawing, a response to the gestural and material qualities of Venetian drawing by a leading British contemporary artist.  This links to my larger study, Venice and Drawing: Theory, Practice and Collecting 1500-1800 (Yale University Press, 2016).  

My most recent research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, aimed to transform our understanding of Raphael with eloquence in drawing as a research theme. Among other activities, including interdisciplinary workshops, this led to the ambitious exhibition Raphael: The Drawings at the Ashmolean and at the Albertina, Vienna, in 2017.