Douglas Fordham

Professor, Department Chair, Art History


Office hours: Monday 2:00-3:00pm Fayerweather 207

The History of Art, as it has taken shape over the past three centuries, has been profoundly shaped by legacies of empire and enlightenment. As a historian of art and the British empire, Douglas Fordham is interested in a wide array of visual art and its twisting historical narratives from the seventeenth century to the present in the Anglophone world. He is a co-editor with Tim Barringer and Geoff Quilley of Art and the British Empire (2007), which helped to place empire at the center of the study of British art. His first monograph, British Art and the Seven Years' War: Allegiance and Autonomy (2010) examined the relationship of imperial politics to artistic organization in London in the mid-eighteenth century. His second monograph, Aquatint Worlds: Travel, Print, and Empire (2019) considered how the newly discovered medium of aquatint printmaking conditioned the representation and reception of the world beyond Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 

Ongoing research includes a monograph on printed images in Georgian Britain (1714-1837), which examines how and why printmaking became indispensable to a centralizing, commercializing, and colonizing nation. In a second project Douglas is considering Aboriginal printmaking and what it can teach us about the colonial visual record of Australia and a troubling tradition of Aboriginal representation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Douglas welcomes inquiries from prospective PhD students relating to any aspect of British art, the imperial world in which operated, and the indigenous artistic traditions that persisted within it.