St John's College Oxford
Dr Catherine Whistler

Dr 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 (on view in Florence 25 October 2016 to 15 January 2017).  In bringing together drawings from two great centres of collecting, Oxford and Florence, this exhibition takes 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, autumn 2016).  My current research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, aims to transform our understanding of Raphael with eloquence in drawing as a research theme. Among other activities, including interdisciplinary workshops, this will lead to an ambitious exhibition on the drawings of Raphael at the Ashmolean and at the Albertina, Vienna, in 2017.