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Dr Samuel Shaw

Profile summary

Professional biography

Before joining the Open University as a Lecturer in July 2020 I worked at the University of Leicester. I have also taught at the Universities of Birmingham, Sussex, Warwick and York. Between 2013-2016 I was a Post-Doctoral Associate at the Yale Center for British Art. I completed my PhD in the History of Art at the University of York in 2010.

Research interests

I am a historian of art and exhibition culture. My primary research interests cover the period 1800 to the present day, with a particular focus on art in Britain and its Empire in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Major themes include the relationship between art and religious, class, and regional identities; museum history and the formation of the modern art market; and nineteenth-century ecocriticism and the intersections of art and natural history. I have published widely on artists and exhibition culture in Britain c.1850-1950.

My book Art, Identity and Cosmopolitanism: William Rothenstein and the British Art World was published by Peter Lang in 2024. This book builds on previous research into Rothenstein, including a series of essays written for the Tate on his 1899 painting The Doll's House. I am also in the early stages of developing a project on the representation and movement of African animals in nineteenth-century Britain.

Other recent book projects include an edited collection of essays on Edwardian culture (Edwardian Culture: Beyond the Garden Party, Routledge, 2017), which includes an essay on Anglo-Jewish networks in the 1900s; and a co-authored study of the cultural representation of zebras (Zebra, Reaktion Books, 2018).

Teaching interests

I currently sit on the module teams for A112 (Cultures) and A236 (Art and visual vultures in the modern world). I recently contributed to the new dissertation module A336 (Art and its critical histories)

PhD supervision

I am currently supervising a range of projects relating to nineteenth and twentieth-century art in Britain, and welcome further proposals on this subject, especially in relation to art and the natural environment.

Impact and engagement

My current priority is a project called Art and Ecology, which sets out to change the way that people understand today’s ecological crisis through the art and visual cultures of the past. This project, supported by the interdisciplinary Open University network Open Ecologies, was launched in 2022 with the release of three short films based on objects in the collections of Glasgow Museums. 

I regularly present my work at conferences and workshops, both national and international, and especially enjoy giving gallery talks.

Exhibition curation is also central to my practice as a researcher. I have co-curated several exhibitions to date, including: From Bradford to Benares: The Art of William Rothenstein (Bradford Museums and Ben Uri, 2015); Modernism and Memory: Rhoda Pritzker and the Art of Collecting (Yale Center for British Art, 2016); Reframing the Wild (Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2019); and Nature's Art: Gardens in Leicester and Beyond (Leicester Museums 2022). I also write regularly for public-facing websites, such as Art UK.

Contact me via e-mail


The Graphic’s ‘Heads of the People’ (1875-1883): Further Influences and Legacies (2021-07-01)
Shaw, Samuel
The Burlington Magazine, 163(1420) (pp. 516-523)

Exhibitions and the Market for Modern British Art: Independent Art of Today at Agnew's Gallery, 1906 (2020-09)
Shaw, Samuel and Pezzini, Barbara
Art History, 43(4) (pp. 710-740)

"Scarcely a scholar": William Rothenstein and the Artist as Art-writer in English Periodicals, ca.1890–1910 (2015)
Shaw, Samuel
Visual Resources, 31(1-2) (pp. 45-60)

Art, Identity and Cosmopolitanism: William Rothenstein and the British Art World, c.1880–1935 (2024-01)
Shaw, Samuel
ISBN : 9781800792111 | Publisher : Peter Lang Verlag | Published : Oxford, UK

Zebra (2018)
Shaw, Samuel and Plumb, Christopher
Animal Series
ISBN : 978-1-78023-935-4 | Publisher : Reaktion Books | Published : London

Aliens at Prayer: Representing Jewish Life in the East End of London, c.1905 (2018)
Shaw, Samuel
In: Shaw, Samuel; Shaw, Sarah and Carle, Naomi eds. Edwardian Culture: Beyond the Garden Party. Among the Victorians and Modernists (pp. 133-153)
ISBN : 978-1-138-50632-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Weighing Down the Landscape: The Quarry as a Site of Rural Modernity (2018)
Shaw, Samuel
In: Bluemel, Kristin and McCluskey, Michael eds. Rural Modernity in Britain: A Critical Intervention (pp. 69-83)
ISBN : 9781474420952 | Publisher : Edinburgh University Press | Published : Edinburgh

"Characters in Search of an Author": The Single-Figure Study and the Pritzker Collection (2016)
Shaw, Samuel
In: Collins, Ian and Hughes, Eleanor eds. Modernism and Memory: Rhoda Pritzker and the Art of Collecting (pp. 93-126)
ISBN : 978-0-300-21487-1 | Publisher : Yale University Press | Published : New Haven

Edwardian Culture: Beyond the Garden Party (2018)
Shaw, Samuel; Shaw, Sarah and Carle, Naomi eds.
Among the Victorians and Modernists
ISBN : 978-1-138-50632-9 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

In Focus: 'The Doll’s House' 1899–1900 by William Rothenstein (2016-02)
Shaw, Samuel and Rough, William