Neil Finlay McWilliam

Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Art and Art History in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences


  • Ph.D., University of Oxford (UK) 1985

  • B.A., University of Oxford (UK) 1976


Neil McWilliam received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. His publications include Dreams of Happiness. Social Art & the French Left 1830-1850 (with a revised translation in French, 2007) and Monumental Intolerance, Jean Baffier, A Nationalist Sculptor in fin-de-siècle France and A Bibliography of Salon Criticism in Paris from the July Monarchy to the Second Republic 1831-1851 . His research focuses on the visual culture of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France, and in particular, on public sculpture, the Academy, art criticism, and the inter- relationship between aesthetics and political ideologies during the period. In recent years, McWilliam has published widely on the relationship between conservative politics and the arts in France, exploring the impact of nationalist groupings on artistic production, critical writing and art history in the decades before the First World War. His ongoing interest in the career of Symbolist painter Emile Bernard involves a particular focus on this artist's turn in the 1890s towards a strongly traditionalist artistic practice, and its ramifications for understanding the relationship between tradition and innovation in fin-de-siècle French art.


History of art criticism, historiography and history of aesthetics, history of sculpture, 19th century French cultural and intellectual history


I am currently completing a study that explores the complex relationship between nationalism, traditionalism and the critique of modern culture in France in the decades... read more »
Between its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the outbreak of World War I, France experienced a tremendous rise in populist nationalism, the aftershocks of which can... read more »
Comprising some 430 letters, this selection of correspondence by the French painter Emile Bernard (1868-1941) highlights one of the most complex and little known artists of... read more »
This bibliography provides a source for reviews of the state-sponsored Parisian exhibitions of painting and sculpture (Salons) held during the July Monarchy and Second... read more »
Lines of Attack raises broad questions about the nature of political caricature by juxtaposing two distinct historical moments in the development of the medium: its emergence... read more »

Histoires sociales de l'art. Une anthologie critique. Ed. NF McWilliam, C Moréteau, and J Lamoureux. Dijon: Les Presses du réel, June 2016.

McWilliam, NF. L’Histoire de l’art en France 1890-1950: Acteurs, institutions, enjeux. Les Presses du réel/ Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2014.

McWilliam, NF. L’Histoire sociale de l’art. Ed. N McWilliam, R Froissart, and T Porterfield. Les Presses du réel/ Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2013.

McWilliam, NF. Emile Bernard: Les Lettres d’un artiste (1884-1941). Les Presses du réel, May 2012.

McWilliam, NF, Meneux, C, and Ramos, J. L’art social en France de la Révolution à la Grande Guerre. 2012.

Bernard, E, and McWilliam, N. Émile Bernard, au-delà de Pont-Aven. 2012. (Exhibition Catalog)

McWilliam, NF, Leymarie, M, and Dard, O. L’Action française et la culture. Lille, France: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2010. (Edited Book)

Lines of Attack. Ed. N McWilliam. Duke University Press, 2010. (Exhibition Catalog)

Nationalism and French Visual Culture, 1870-1914. Ed. N McWilliam and J Hargrove. National Gallery of Art (Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts), 2005.


McWilliam, NF. "Michel Melot et l’historiographie d’Honoré Daumier (Accepted)." L’Histoire sociale de l’art. Ed. R Froissart, N McWilliam, and T Porterfield. Les Presses du reel, 2015. (Essay)

McWilliam, NF. "La Bataille romantique 1900-1950 (Accepted)." L’Histoire de l’art en France 1890-1950: Acteurs, Institutions, Enjeux. Ed. M Passini and N McWilliam. Les Presses du reel, 2014. (Essay)

McWilliam, NF. "Au-delà de la ’République des arts’: les artistes, l’état et le marché au 19e siècle." Faire art comme on fait société. Les Nouveaux commanditaires. Ed. C Joschke. Les Presses du réel, 2013. 515-32.

McWilliam, NF. "Patrie et pédagogie: l’art national selon Léon Rosenthal." Léon Rosenthal (1870-1932), militant, critique et historien de l’art. Editions Hermann, 2013. 209-222.

McWilliam, NF. "A Sense of Place. Representing the Region in Nineteenth-Century France." Impressionist France. Le Gray to Monet. Ed. S Kelly. Saint Louis Art Museum, 2013. 53-65.

McWilliam, NF. "’L’Epoque n’a pas d’âme’. Critiques et chrétiens au Salon pendant la monarchie de juillet." La Critique d’art de la Révolution à la monarchie de Juillet: enjeux et pratiques. Ed. L Lachenal and C Méneux. 2013.

McWilliam, NF. "Le Romantisme comme enjeu." L’Histoire de l’art en France 1890-1950: Acteurs, Institutions, Enjeux. Ed. NeilMcWilliam and M Passini. Les Presses du réel/ Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2013.

McWilliam, NF. "How to change the world: Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon." Utopian Moments: Reading Utopian Texts. Ed. JC Davis and MAR Avilés. Bloomsbury Academic, London, May 2012. 106-112.

McWilliam, NF. "Au-delà de Pont-Aven: A la poursuite d’Emile Bernard." Emile Bernard: Au-delà de Pont-Aven. Ed. N McWilliam. Institut national d’histoire de l’art, January 2012. 5-23.

McWilliam, NF. "’Ténébreux compagnons de toute solitude’: Emile Bernard et la littérature." Emile Bernard: Au-delà de Pont-Aven. Ed. N McWilliam. Institut national d’histoire de l’art, January 2012. 27-53.


McWilliam, NF, Bertrand-Dorléac, L, Michaud, E, Michaud, Y, and Orwicz, M. "Art, état et idéologies au XIXe et XXe siècles." Perspective 1 (June 2012): 41-55. (Scholarly Commentary)

McWilliam, NF. "Emile Bernard, Vincent van Gogh et Octave Mirbeau: Critique de la critique." Cahiers Octave Mirbeau 18 (March 2011): 169-177. (Academic Article)

McWilliam, N. "Action francaise, classicism, and the dilemmas of traditionalism in France, 1900-1914." STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF ART 68 (2005): 269-+.

McWilliam, NF. "Exercises de style. La Critique devant les Envois de Rome 1800-1873." D’Ingres à Degas. Rome et les artistes français 1803-1873 (2003): 139-149.

McWilliam, NF. "Champagne Socialism: Luxury in Fourier's Utopia." Modern and Contemporary France 9.2 (May 2001): 149-160. (Academic Article)

McWilliam, N. "Gustave Courbet et la Franche-Comté. Besançon." The Burlington Magazine 143.1175 (2001): 116-117. Full Text

McWilliam, NF. "Race, Remembrance and 'Revanche': Commemorating the Franco-Prussian War in the Third Republic." Art History: journal of the Association of Art Historians 19.4 (1996): 473-498.


McWilliam, NF, and Jungerman, N. "Entretien avec Neil McWilliam." Florilettres 136 (July 2012): 2-17. (Interview)

McWilliam, NF. "Emile Bernard: Au-delà de Pont-Aven." Ed. N McWilliam. (January 2012): 118-118.

Moul, JW. "Preface." Problems in Urology 8.1 (1994): XI+XII+XIII+-.

McWilliam, N. "'Un enterrement à Paris': Courbet's Political Contacts in 1845." The Burlington Magazine 125.960 (1983): 155-157. Full Text

Emile Bernard. Au-delà de Pont-Aven. Creator. (2012)


Exhibition of the work of French Symbolist painter Emile Bernard (1868-1941), bringing together graphic works, painting, illustrated books, letters, photographs, and personal documentation, drawn from the collections of the Bibliothèque de l'INHA (Fondation Jacques Doucet), the Archives des musées de France (Louvre), the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and a private collection (France).69 items; catalogue published (118 pp.).

Fall 2017

Exploring Art and Architecture (ARTHIST 104.01)
Nasher 105, TuTh 03:05 PM-04:20 PM

Fall 2016

Methodology of Art Hst (ARTHIST 543S.01)
Smith Wrhs A290, Tu 03:05 PM-05:35 PM

Spring 2016

The Symbolist Movement (ARTHIST 541S.01)
West Duke 106, Th 10:05 AM-12:35 PM

Fall 2015

Methodology of Art Hst (ARTHIST 543S.01)
East Duke 204A, Tu 03:05 PM-05:35 PM

Spring 2015

Artist in Film (ARTHIST 350.001)
East Duke 204A, Th 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
Goya and David (ARTHIST 703S.01)
East Duke 204A, Tu 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
Artist in Film (VMS 343.001)
East Duke 204A, Th 03:05 PM-05:35 PM

Fall 2014

Methodology of Art Hst (ARTHIST 543S.01)
Smith 101, Th 10:05 AM-12:35 PM

Spring 2014

European Art 1760-1850 (ARTHIST 278.01)
East Duke 204A, MW 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
Nationalism and Visual Culture (ARTHIST 704S.01)
East Duke 204A, W 01:25 PM-03:55 PM