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Professor Marcia Pointon

Marcia is an Emeritus Professor who mentors staff in their research projects, assists with grant applications, and furthers the University’s research aims by identifying, encouraging and ensuring high quality research outcomes for staff at all stages of their careers. Professor Pointon is a member of both the Pattern and Chaos, and Created and Contested Territories research groups.

A distinguished art historian, she has published thirteen single-authored monographs, a number of edited books and a great many articles in refereed journals in Europe and North America. Professor Pointon has held fellowships at the Getty, the Clark Art Institute, Winterthur Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, and the Mellon Centre. She is a Trustee of the Art Fund and has been a member of the National Portrait Gallery Research Advisory Board since 2014.

Having begun her career as an historian of British and nineteenth-century French art, Professor Pointon has written on Landscape, Pre-Raphaelitism, Victorian painting, and portraiture. Her work has been informed by feminist issues of gender and by critical theory. From the 1990s she moved from portraiture to examine how the representations of material things, such as clothing and jewels, generated meanings in apparently human-focused images. In particular, exploring the significance of gems and jewels as raw materials and as artefacts. This led to her working with historians of science, acquiring a grounding in early modern mineralogy and moving to focus on the seventeenth-century Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens on whom her current work is focused.


Selected single-authored books

2017: Rocks, ice and Dirty Stones: Diamond Histories, London, Reaktion Books

2013: Portrayal and the search for identity, London, Reaktion Books

2009: Brilliant Effects: a cultural history of gemstones and jewellery, New Haven,Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, (awarded the Historians of British Art Book prize 2010)

Selected articles in refereed journals

2020: ‘Rubens and Peiresc in Search of Agate: Materiality and Aesthetics in Early Modern Europe’, Art History, 43:5, Nov 2020, pp. 955-982.

2018: ‘De Beers’s Diamond Mine in the 1880s: Robert Harris and the Kimberley Searching System’, History of Photography 42:1, Feb 2018, pp. 4-24.

2017: ‘Enduring Characteristics and Unstable Hues: Men in Black in French Painting in the 1860s and 1870s’, Art History, 40:4, September 2017, pp. 744-769.

2014 ‘Casts, Imprints, and the Deathliness of Things: Artifacts at the Edge, Art Bulletin, XCVI, June 2014, pp. 170-195.

Selected contributions to edited works and conference proceedings

2020: ‘Colour and Tsctility: Lithic Influences during Rubens’s Period in Italy’, In Raffaella Morselli and Cecilia Paolini eds., Rubens e La Cultura Italiana 1600-1608, Rome: Viella, 2020, pp. 183-199.

2019: ‘Good and Bad Diamonds in Seventeenth-Century Europe’ in Michael Bycroft and Sven Dupré eds., Gems in the Early Modern World: Materials, Knowledge and Global Trade, London: Palgrave Macmillan 2019, pp. 173-191.

2018: ‘The importance of gems in the work of Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1640’ in B.J.L Van den Bercken et al eds., Engraved Gems from Antiquity to the Present (Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities), Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2018, pp.  99-111.

2016: ‘Accessories as Portraits and Portraits as Accessories’ in Eva-Bettina Krems and Sigrid Ruby eds., Das Portråt als Kulturelle Praxis, Marburg: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2016, pp. 45-59

2013: ‘The Portrait Miniature as an intimate object’ in B. Pappe, J. Schmieglitz-Otten and G. Walczak eds.,European Portrait Miniatures, Petersberg: Micahel Imhof Verlag, 2013, pp. 16-26.

Other Activities

2015-                          Trustee of the Art Fund

2014-                          National Portrait Gallery Research Advisory Board

2012-14                     Courtauld Institute of Art, International Advisory Board

See work by Marcia on the Norwich University Repository