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 »

McWilliam, NF. Dreams of Happiness. Social Art and the French Left 1830-1850. Princeton University Press, 1993.

Hogarth. Studio Editions, London, 1993.

McWilliam, NF, Schuster, V, Wrigley, R, and Méker, P. A Bibliography of Salon Criticism in Paris from the Ancien Régime to the Restoration 1699-1827. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Life and Landscape: The Photographs of P.H. Emerson. Ed. NF McWilliam and V Sekules. Norwich: Sainsbury Center of Visual Arts, 1986. (Exhibition Catalog)

McWilliam, NF, Froissart, R, and Porterfield, T. L’Histoire sociale de l’art (In preparation). Les Presses du reel.


McWilliam, NF. "David d’Angers et la socialisation de l’exemplarité." L’Art social en France de la Révolution à la Grande Guerre. Ed. N McWilliam, C Meneux, and J Ramos. 2012.

McWilliam, NF. "Avant-garde Anti-Modernism: Caricature and Cabaret Culture in Fin-de-siècle Montmartre." L’art de la caricature. Ed. SL Men. Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest, November 2011. 275-295.

McWilliam, NF. "Comment peindre un tableau fouriériste." Charles Fourier – l’écart absolu. Musée des beaux-arts, April 2010. 50-65.

McWilliam, NF. "Qui a peur de George Sand? Antiromantisme et antiféminisme chez les maurrassiens." L’Action française et la culture. Ed. NF McWilliam, M Leymairie, and O Dard. Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2010. 173-84.

McWilliam, NF. "’Michel Melot et l’historiographie de Daumier’." L’Histoire sociale de l’art. Ed. P Bordes. Les Presses du réel, 2010.

McWilliam, NF. "’L’energie de la race’: La Provence dans la critique d’art de Joachim Gasquet." Visages de la Provence. Ed. V Minogue and P Pollard. Emile Zola Society, 2009. 165-77.

McWilliam, NF. "’Au-delà de la "République des arts": les artistes, l’étate et le marché au XIXe siècle’." Faire Art comme on fait société. Les Nouveaux Commanditaires. Ed. C Joschke. Les Presses du réel, 2009. 515-532.

McWilliam, NF. "Emile Bernard’s Reactionary Idealism." Academics, Pompiers, Official Artists and the Arrière-garde: Defining Modern & Traditional in France 1900-1960. Ed. N Adamson and T Norris. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009. 25-49.

McWilliam, NF. "‘Erudition et engagement politique: la double vie de Louis Dimier’." L’Histoire de l’histoire de l’art en France au XIXe siècle. Ed. R Recht, P Sénéchal, C Barbillon, and F-R Martin. La Documentation française, 2008. 403-417.

McWilliam, N. "The Culture of Nationalism." Nations and Nationalism in Global Perspective: An Encyclopedia of Origins, Developments and Contemporary Transitions. Ed. G Herb. 2008.


McWilliam, N. "Baroque in Croatia. Zagreb, Museum of Arts and Crafts." The Burlington Magazine 135.1087 (1993): 712-713. Full Text

McWilliam, NF. "Presse, journalistes et critique d'art à Paris de 1849 à 1860." Quarante-huit/Quatorze, Annual publication of the Musée d'Orsay 5 (1993).

MCWILLIAM, N. "Limited Revisions: Academic Art History Confronts Academic Art." Oxford Art Journal 12.2 (January 1, 1989): 71-86. Full Text

McWilliam, NF. "Art, Labour, and Mass Democracy: Debates on the Status of the Artist in France around 1848." Art History: journal of the Association of Art Historians 11.1 (March 1, 1988): 64-87.

MELOT, M. "Daumier and Art History: Aesthetic Judgement/Political Judgement." Oxford Art Journal 11.1 (January 1, 1988): 3-24. Full Text

McWilliam, NF. "Objets retrouvés." Art History: journal of the Association of Art Historians 10.1 (March 1, 1987). (Review)

CHAUDONNERET, M-C. "1848: 'La Republique des Arts'." Oxford Art Journal 10.1 (January 1, 1987): 59-70. Full Text

McWILLIAM, N. "The Sculptor of Modern Life." Oxford Art Journal 10.1 (January 1, 1987): 102-105. Full Text


Spring 2018

Nationalism and Visual Culture (ARTHIST 704S.01)
Smith Wrhs A290, M 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
Nationalism and Visual Culture (VMS 704S.01)
Smith Wrhs A290, M 03:05 PM-05:35 PM

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