London, Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 November 2019

This conference aims to reappraise and – where appropriate – to challenge the received narrative about the history of art history in Britain.

Art History as an academic discipline in Britain is commonly regarded as a German import. Before the 1930s, British art writing was allegedly the domain of the amateur and connoisseur. This only changed radically with the influx of émigré scholars – most of them of German-Jewish descent – to Britain after 1933. These highly skilled professional art historians played a pivotal role in developing the research and teaching programmes of both the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes.

The conference’s aim is to situate the work of the German(-Jewish) émigré art historians in a wider sociology of British Academia, and the intellectual debates within and beyond art historical scholarship. The conference will seek to re-evaluate just how ‘German’ British art history became between 1920 and 1970. The timeframe allows to take into account both the British traditions of art writing before the arrival of the ‘Hitler émigrés’, and the émigré’s legacies up to the redefinition of the discipline brought about by the ‘New Art History’ of the 1970s.

This conference is part of the nationwide Insiders/Outsiders Festival celebrating refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British culture.

It is co-organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at QMUL, the Courtauld Institute London and hosted by the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations QMUL, with generous funding from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. For more information on this event please contact Dr Hans Hönes (Courtauld Institute) on: or Dr Emilie Oleron Evans (QMUL) on:

For further information on the workshop, please refer to the programme here.