Catherine Whistler

Dr. Catherine Whistler is Keeper of the Western Art Department, where the collections include paintings and graphic art, sculpture, and applied arts (notably ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture and musical instruments) ranging from the 1300s until the present day. Her curatorial responsibilities are mainly in the area of Italian and Spanish art. She is involved in teaching and research in History of Art and is a Fellow of St John’s College.

As part of the Ashmolean’s transformation with a £61 million development project launched in November 2009, Dr Whistler organized the presentation of the European art collections across a series of re-furbished galleries in the historic Cockerell building.

Her research interests have had Venetian art from the 16th to the 18th centuries as a main focus, and she has published widely on Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo. She has also worked extensively on Italian art of the 15th-18th centuries, and on art in 18th-century Spain. Exhibitions she has organized include Opulence and Devotion: Brazilian Baroque sculpture; Guercino: A Passion for Drawing; The English Prize. The Capture of the Westmorland, an Episode of the Grand Tour (with the Yale Center for British Art, 2012-13) and worked with Dr Mary Brooks on The Eye of the Needle: English Embroideries from the Feller Collection (Ashmolean, 2014).

Recently, Dr Whistler collaborated with the Uffizi (GDSU) on an ambitious exhibition bringing together Venetian drawings from two great centres of collecting, Oxford and Florence. As part of this project, Jenny Saville, a leading British contemporary artist, presented new work inspired by the work of Titian and other Venetian artists. Titian to Canaletto together with Jenny Saville Drawing was on view at the Ashmolean from October 2015 to January 2016; a version of the exhibition is on show at the Uffizi in Florence, until 16 January 2017.

Her latest research has a focus on the drawings of Raphael, the subject of a major exhibition at the Ashmolean from 1 June – 3 September 2017, and a further exhibition at the Albertina, Vienna, in collaboration with Dr Achim Gnann. Her research project, with Dr Ben Thomas, University of Kent as co-investigator, is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and aims to transform our understanding of Raphael using eloquence in drawing as a research theme.

Selected recent publications

‘Las serias al oleo basadas en los Toros de Burdeos. Dos escenas de tauromaquia de Oxford’, in Goya y lo goyesco en la Fundación Lázaro Galdiano, exhibition catalogue, ed. Mercedes Agueda Vilar, Segovia, 2003, pp.127-141

‘Artists, collectors and the appreciation of Florentine drawings of the early seventeenth century’, Graceful and True: Drawing in Florence c.1600, exhibition catalogue, Ashmolean Museum and Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham, 2003

‘A Renaissance Enigma: The Forest Fire by Piero di Cosimo’, in Image and Word. Reflections of Art and Literature from the Middle Ages to the Present, eds. Giuliana Pieri and Antonella Braida, Legenda, European Humanities Research Centre, Oxford 2003, pp.16-37

Essay on Venetian Artists in England 1700-1750 for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford 2004

‘Drawing from the life in Venice from Titian to Tiepolo’, Master Drawings, 42, 4, 2004, pp.370-96

‘L’aspetto mutevole della “Veduta di Dolo sul Brenta” di Oxford’, Arte Veneta, 60, 2003 [published 2005], pp.185-190

‘Vedutismo veneziano e mecenati britannici nel ‘700’ in Canaletto, Venezia e i suoi splendori, exhibition catalogue ed. Alberto Craievich and Giuseppe Pavanello, Treviso, 2008, pp.44-55, and contributions, p.252, and pp.283-84

‘Titian’s Triumph of Love’, The Burlington Magazine, CLI, August 2009, with a technical appendix by Jill Dunkerton, pp.536-42

‘Venezia e l’Inghilterra. Artisti, collezionisti e mercato dell’arte, 1700-1750’ in Il collezionismo d’arte a Venezia: Il Settecento, edited by Linda Borean and Stefania Mason, Venice 2009, pp.89-101

‘Rosalba Carriera e il mondo brittanico’ in Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757) Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, edited by Giuseppe Pavanello, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice 2009, pp.181-206

‘I disegni di Leonardo da Vinci a Oxford’, Martin Kemp and Juliana Barone, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence 2011, pp.27-31

‘Uncovering Beauty: Titian’s Triumph of Love in the Vendramin Collection, Venice’, in Renaissance Studies, 26, no.2, 2012, 218-42

‘Collecting the overlooked: baroque paintings from the collection of Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941)’ in Excalibur: Essays on Antiquity and the History of Collecting in Honour of Arthur MacGregor, edited by Hildegard Wiegel and Michael Vickers, Oxford: Archaeopress, 2013, pp.61-66

‘Merchants and Writers: the Ashmolean’s Titian collection and some 19th-century owners’ in Peter Humfrey, ed. The Reception of Titian in Britain, c.1780-1880, Turnhout: Brepols 2013, pp.203-14

Drawings by Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo in Italian Master Drawings from the Princeton University Art Museum, by Laura Giles, Lia Markey and Claire Van Cleave, New Haven: Princeton University Art Museum and Yale University Press, 2014, pp.183-201

‘Giambattista Tiepolo e il disegno’, in Tiepolo: i colori del disegno, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Musei Capitolini, 2014, ed. by Giorgio Marini, Massimo Favilla and Renato Rugolo, Rome: Campisano, 2014, pp.19-23

‘The Collector’s Eye: Viewing Veronese’s Chiaroscuro Drawings in Late Sixteenth-Century Venice’, in Artibus et Historiae, 70, 2014, pp.233-46

Drawing in Venice: Titian to Canaletto, exhibition catalogue, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 2015, with essays by Marzia Faietti, Giorgio Marini and Jacqueline Thalmann

‘Jenny Saville Drawing’ with Lauren Mahony, Gagosian, February-April 2016, pp.118-121

Baroque and Later Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, London: Modern Art Press, 2016

Venice and Drawing 1500-1800: Theory, Practice and Collecting, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016

Forthcoming publications:

'Eloquence in Raphael Drawings' co-author with Ben Thomas, Artibus et Historiae, 74 (2017)

'Aspects of disegno, drawings and prints in Renaissance Venice: the development of the independent landscape drawing', in Jenseits des Disgeno? Die Entstehung selbständiger Zeichnungen in Deutschland und Italien im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, ed. by Alessandro Nova and Daniela Bohde, Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2017

'Writing on Drawing', in a volume of essays in honour of Martin Kemp, edited by Juliana Barone and Matthew Landrus, 2017