The History of the Department of History of Art

Since the nineteenth century, the University of Oxford has played a significant role in the visual arts.  Although not a subject in its own right, history of art was promoted in Oxford for its value within the type of general education the University aimed to provide for students. It was pursued as strands within history, languages, archaeology, continuing education and practical art, rather than through a dedicated undergraduate or postgraduate curriculum. Then in 1955, the first Professor of the History of Art, Professor Edgar Wind, was appointed by the Faculty of History.  Wind's successor in 1967 was Professor Francis Haskell, who substantiated the link between artists and their social contexts through documentary research on patronage, taste and collecting in early modern Europe. Professor Martin Kemp, the leading Leonardo scholar, was Professor of the History of Art from 1995-2007, and was followed by Professor Craig Clunas. In 2020, Professor Geoffrey Batchen took up the position of Professor of the History of Art.