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


The Aesthetics of Reaction
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 »
Nationalism and French Visual Culture, 1870-1914
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 »
Les lettres d'un artiste (1884-1941)
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 »
A Bibliography of Salon Criticism in Paris from the July Monarchy to the Second Republic, 1831-1851: Volume 2
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: Conflicts in Caricature
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. "Lieux de mémoire, sites de contestation. Le Monument public comme enjeu politique, 1880-1914." La Statuaire publique au XIXe siècle. Ed. SL Men. Monum. Editions du Patrimoine, January 2005. 104-115.

McWilliam, NF. "Action française, Classicism, and the Dilemmas of Traditionalism in France 1900-1914." Nationalism and French Visual Culture, 1870-1914. Ed. J Hargrove and N McWilliam. Studies in the History of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, 2004.

McWilliam, NF. "Ordering the Past. Nineteenth-Century French History Painting in Retrospect." History Painting in Nineteenth-Century France. Ed. P Cook and M Ledbury. Manchester University Press, 2003.

McWilliam, NF. "Entries on Jean Baffier, Hugues Lapaire, Maxime Réal del Sarte, and Félix Vallotton." Dictionnaire biographique et géographique de l’Affaire Dreyfus. Ed. P Oriol. 2003.

McWilliam, NF. "’Contre-révolution, contre-romantisme . . .’. Esthétique et politique dans l’Action fran¢aise." L’Invention du XIXe siècle. 2. Le XIXe siècle au miroir du XXe’. Ed. ACE al. Klinckseick, Paris, 2002. 109-122.

McWilliam, NF. "Von "Marat" bis "Thermidor": Die Interpretation der Revolution in der Dritten Republik in Frankreich." Revolution, Republik und Reaction: Der Umgang mit dem Erbe der Französischen Revolution 1871-1914. Ed. G Gersmann and H Kohle. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart, 2002. 99-118.

McWilliam, NF. "Peripheral Visions: Class, Cultural Aspiration and the Artisan Community in Mid-Nineteenth-Century France." Politics and Aesthetics in the Arts. Ed. I Gaskell and S Kemal. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts, Cambridge University Press, 2000. 140-73.

McWilliam, NF. "Commemoration and the Politics of Iconoclasm: The Battle over "les Statues dreyfusardes", 1908-1910." Memory and Oblivion. Ed. AW Reinink and J Stumpel. Kluwer Academic Pub, January 1, 1999. (Essay)

McWilliam, NF. "Mythologising Millet." Barbizon. Malerei der Natur - Natur der Malerei. Ed. A Burmester, C Heilmann, and MF Zimmermann. Munich: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1999. (Essay)


McWILLIAM, N. "Country Life." Oxford Art Journal 9.1 (January 1, 1986): 76-81. Full Text

McWilliam, NF, and Potts, A. "Richard Wilson: Landscapes of Reaction." History Workshop Journal (1985).

McWilliam, NF. "Making Faces." Art History: journal of the Association of Art Historians 7.1 (March 1, 1984): 115-119. (Review)

PARSONS, C, and MCWILLIAM, N. ""Le Paysan de Paris": Alfred Sensier and the Myth of Rural France." Oxford Art Journal 6.2 (January 1, 1983): 38-58. Full Text

McWilliam, N, and Potts, A. "The Landscape of Reaction: Richard Wilson (1713?-1782) and His Critics." History Workshop 16 (1983): 171-175. Full Text

McWilliam, NF. "David d'Angers and the Panthéon Commission: Politics and Public Works under the July Monarchy'." Art History: journal of the Association of Art Historians 5.4 (December 1, 1982): 6-446.

McWilliam, NF. "Look At Life." Art History: journal of the Association of Art Historians 4.4 (December 1, 1981): 466-470. (Review)

McWilliam, N. "Paris. David d'Angers, Maître d'Hébert." The Burlington Magazine 122.933 (1980): 860-863. Full Text

McWILLIAM, N. "A Microcosm of the Universe: The Building of the University Museum." Oxford Art Journal 1.1 (January 1, 1978): 23-27. 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