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Name: Amy Parrish

PhD: Department of History of Art, School of Humanities, University of Nottingham

Thesis Title: ‘National identity, religion and changing taste in Britain: the case of Guido Reni and seventeenth-century Bolognese art’


Thesis Description:

For my thesis I am investigating an extreme revolution in taste in European art: the transformation of British attitudes to the seventeenth ­century Bolognese artist Guido Reni and his contemporaries. Such artists were among the most collectable and revered artists in the seventeenth and eighteenth century and had a profound influence upon British artists and writers. However, a collapse of their reputations in the nineteenth century led them to become deeply suspect in popular imagination.

This project asks whether the response to the Bolognese School reflects historical changes in Britain and its developing national identity. Reni’s art was a key reference point in ideas underpinning the remit of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768: the formation of a national school of art. This depended on assimilating and rivalling continental, especially Italian, models. However, artistic respect for Reni was compromised by fears that alien Catholic attitudes could contaminate the British body politic and its nascent cultural expression. In order to understand the nature and causes of Reni’s changing status in Britain, I will consider examples of continental attitudes and patterns of collecting.

My aim is to give a contextualised account of the changing status of the Bolognese School in Britain from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, and to elucidate the role this played in the making of British art and national collections. My objective is to track the works in Britain using catalogues, inventories, sales catalogues, guidebooks, and archival sources. This will clarify the role of collectors, dealers, artists, and critics in influencing opinion.

As a reception study, building on Haskell (1976), my research will reveal particular aspects of British art, collecting, and literature, and set them within evolving ideologies of British national identity; as such, the varied and extreme response to Bolognese art will be highly revealing. My scope will be chronologically wide and will address large historical issues – national identity, the art market, the Grand Tour, and the place of Old Masters in the literary and historical imagination.

For further information on my previous work and interests, please see my LinkedIn page:


Supervisors and Institution: 

Lead Supervisor:  
Professor Richard Wrigley (History of Art Department) 

Second Supervisor:
Professor Jeremy Wood (History of Art Department)




Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


  • Attended Conference ‘George Scharf and the emergence of the museum professional in nineteenth-century Britain’, National Portrait Gallery, 21 April 2015


Other Research Interests:

  •  Italian Baroque art
  •  Provenance research
  •  British collecting and the Grand Tour
  •  Classical art and its revival in Renaissance and Baroque art
  •  Country house collections


Social Media Presence:


University email address:


Twitter: ttps://


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