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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 of my research 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.

I have recently completed two book projects: 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).

I am currently writing a book on the life and work of the artist, writer and teacher William Rothenstein (1872-1945), which explores the artist's 'cosmopolitan' identity and role in transnational networks in relation to the wider context of modern art in Britain. This 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.

Teaching interests

I work on a range of modules within Art History, including the second part of the MA (A844) and the level 3 course Art and its Global Histories (A344).

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

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); and Reframing the Wild (Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2019). 

I am currently working on two exhibition projects with Leicester Museums. 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)

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