My research interests are in nineteenth-century British landscape and genre painting, with a particular emphasis on the representation of the poor and the relationship of art to its social and political context. I have curated exhibitions at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, the Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham, and Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance.
My most recent publications include Where the Sea Meets the Land, a book and accompanying exhibition looking at images of the coast in the nineteenth century, and a monograph on the artist John Brett. My current research project is on representations of trees in art. Please see below for a full list of publications.
- Toil and Plenty: Images of the Agricultural Landscape in England, 1780-1890, Yale University Press, 1993.
- Edited, with Michael Rosenthal and Scott Wilcox, Prospects for the Nation: Recent Essays in British Landscape, 1750-1880 (Studies in British Art 4), Yale University Press, 1997.
- Rustic Simplicity: Scenes of Cottage Life in Nineteenth-Century British Art, Djanogly Art Gallery/Lund Humphries, 1998.
- With Judith Cook and Melissa Hardie, Singing from the Walls: the Life and Work of Elizabeth Forbes, Sansom and Company, 2000.
- Edited, with Steven King, The Dress of the Poor 1750-1900: Old and New Perspectives, special issue of Textile History, May 2002.
- Edited, with William Vaughan, English Accents: Interactions with British Art , 1776-1855, Ashgate, 2004.
- With Charles Brett and Mike Hickox, John Brett in Cornwall, Sansom and Company, 2006.
- Where the Sea Meets the Land: Artists on the Coast in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Sansom and Company, 2007.
- With Ann Sumner, Objects of Affection: Pre-Raphaelite Portraits by John Brett, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 2010.
- John Brett, Pre-Raphaelite Landscape Painter, Yale University Press, 2010.
- With Michael Hickox, “Sermons in stones: John Brett’s The Stonebreaker reconsidered”, in Ellen Harding, ed., Reframing the Pre-Raphaelites: Historical and Theoretical Essays, Scolar Press, 1996.
- “Seaside Visitors: Idlers, Thinkers and Patriots in Mid-Nineteenth Century Britain”, in Susan Anderson and Bruce Tabb, eds., Water, Leisure and Culture: European Historical Perspectives, Berg Publishers, 2002.
- "Images of Rural and Sea-side Life" in Victorian Paintings from the Royal Holloway Collection, London, Art Services International, 2008.
- "Dreaming of the Marriage of the Land and Sea": Samuel Palmer and the Coast", in Simon Shaw-Miller and Sam Smiles, ed., Samuel Palmer Revisited, Ashgate, 2010.
- "Cranbrook and Modernity" in The Cranbrook Colony: Fresh Perspectives, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2010.
- “Our English Coasts: Defence and National Identity in Nineteenth-century Britain” in Tricia Cusack, ed., Art and Identity at the Water’s Edge, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012
- “John Linnell and Samuel Palmer in the 1820s”, Burlington Magazine, CXXIX, March 1982.
- “Boundless harvests: representations of open fields and gleaning in early nineteenth century England”, Turner Studies, Summer 1991.
- “Rural virtues for urban consumption: cottage scenes in early Victorian painting”, Journal of Victorian Culture, Spring 1998.
- “Smugglers, Poachers and Wreckers in Nineteenth-century English Painting”, Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, University of Montpelier III, no. 61, April 2005.
- "John Brett's Christmas Morning, 1866", Burlington Magazine, CL, no. 1269, December 2008.
- “A mild, a grateful, an unearthly lustre”: Samuel Palmer and the moon”, Burlington Magazine, CLIV, no. 1310, May 2012