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Name: Emily Burns

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

Thesis Title: 

‘Painting, Patronage and Collecting in England during the Civil Wars and Interregnum, c.1640-1660'

Thesis description

For my thesis I am investigating the production, patronage and collecting of painting in England during the British Civil Wars and Interregnum.  

The study will challenge the artificial cut-off point of the outbreak of Civil War in 1642, which is often imposed in histories of British art (Parry, 1981; Smuts, 1987; Howarth, 1997; Cruickshanks, 2000) at the expense of the many patrons and artists who continued to be active across Europe throughout the subsequent decades, such as Lady Arundel (Chew, 2003) and the 10th Earl of Northumberland (Wood, 1993 and 1994). This attitude has been further reinforced by the deaths in quick succession of two major Flemish painters who worked for English patrons: Rubens in 1640, and Van Dyck in 1641.  

Through a fresh investigation of the 1640s and 1650s, I aim to evaluate whether the civil wars were indeed a barrier to the continuation and development of the English painting market, and to throw much-needed light on the state of the London painting market, as well as the broader state of the arts in England during this important period of British history.



My method is interdisciplinary and broadly informed by a cultural history approach, drawing on recent studies of this period in both Art History and History, notably Peck, Consuming Splendor, 2005; Sharpe, Image Wars, 2010; and Keblusek and Noldus, Double Agents, 2011.  


Progress so far

So far I have drafted my first chapter about painters active in London between 1640 and 1660, with a focus on Sir Peter Lely and the Painter-Stainers' City Livery Company, and my third chapter on the patronage of the Earl of Northumberland and Sir Justinian Isham.

I am now embarking on my second chapter on the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke and Lady Anne Clifford, and plan to begin my fourth and final chapter in the new year. 

I have given two papers on my research into Sir Justinian Isham, and am looking out for opportunities to give a paper on my research into painters in London during the Civil Wars and Interregnum.


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


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Lead Supervisor:  

  • Richard Wrigley (History of Art Department)


  • Professor Jeremy Wood (History of Art Department)
  •  Dr Julia Merritt (History Department)


Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

  • <add bulleted list>


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

year: 2016

  • Research visit to Lamport Hall, 3rd February
  • To give paper at Nottingham History of Art Department Seminar, May 11th

year: 2015

Key conferences and seminars attended

  • Attended a Nottingham History Department Seminar paper given by Robbie Rudge:  ‘Writing the experiences of royalist defeat: The Earl of Westmorland in Interregnum England, c.1646–1660’. 2nd December
  • Attended Conference ‘A Collector of Secrets:
 Sir Balthazar Gerbier (1592-1663) in cultural diplomacy and the arts.’ Research Department, Victoria and Albert Museum, 4th and 5th June 

Training attended

  • Attended two Early Modern archives training sessions at The National Archives (TNA), (SDF funded):  
  1.  'The Royal Household, ceremony and court culture' 
  2. 'Literature, letter writing and art', Wednesday 22nd April 2015 

Research visits

  • The Vyne, 9th April (SDF funded)
  • Ashburnham House, 14th May
  • Wilton House, 6th July (SDF funded)
  • Forde Abbey, 15th July (SDF funded)
  • Prideaux Place, 19th August
  • Northampton Record Office, 17th -19th November (SDF funded)
  • King's Meadow Archives, 1st October (2014); 2nd December (2015)
  • Chatsworth Archives,  9th-10th December (SDF funded)
  • Plus, a suspended period of research on the Painter-Stainers archive material held in Guildhall Library Archives

Other Research Interests:

  • Royalists who travelled abroad to the Continent over the Civil Wars/Interregnum
  • Portraiture
  • Sir Anthony van Dyck
  • Copies and versions of paintings
  • Country house collections
  • The history of London


Social Media Presence:

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