Catherine Roach

Associate Professor

Department of Art History

Catherine Roach is an Associate Professor of Art History in the School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University. She researches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art history, with a focus on Britain and the British Empire. She is especially interested in urban display cultures and the role of art exhibitions in the construction and contestation of nationalist and imperialist ideologies. In 2010 she curated Seeing Double: Portraits, Copies and Exhibitions in 1820s London at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, and she has held a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the Huntington Library. Her first book, Pictures-within-Pictures in Nineteenth-Century Britain received the Historians of British Art Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800.

She has been awarded a fellowship at the National Humanities Center for the 2022–2023 academic year, to support work her second book, The Shadow Museum: A History of the British Institution, 1805–1867. This study will be the first book on the British Institution, a pivotal arts organization that pioneered enduring exhibition formats and shaped museum practice. Drawing on original digital exhibition reconstructions and extensive archival research, the project advances new methods for the study of display and shows how exhibitions visualized ideas about nation, empire, and human variety.


“The Shadow Museum: A History of the British Institution, 1805–1867” (In preparation.)

Pictures-within-Pictures in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London and New York: Ashgate/Routledge, 2016; Paperback edition, 2018)

(Winner of the Historians of British Art Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800; Reviewed in:; Visual Culture in Britain; Pre-Raphaelite Society Journal; Victorian Studies)


“‘The Higher Branches’: Genre and Race on Display at the British Institution, London, 1806,” forthcoming in Art History

“The Ecosystem of Exhibitions: Venues, Artists, and Audiences in Early Nineteenth-Century London,” British Art Studies, issue 14 (November 2019)

“Rehanging Reynolds at the British Institution: Methods for Reconstructing Ephemeral Displays,” British Art Studies, issue 4 (Autumn 2016)

“‘My Hero’: Women and the Domestic Display of Marine Paintings,” in Spreading Canvas: Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting, ed. Eleanor Hughes (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), 112–133

“Images as Evidence? Morse and the Genre of Gallery Painting,” in Samuel F.B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention, ed. Peter John Brownlee (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014), 46¬¬–59

“Domestic Display and Imperial Identity: A Visual Record of the Art Collections of Edward Hawke Locker,” Huntington Library Quarterly 75, no. 3 (Autumn 2012): 411–428

“Taking Pictures: Looting, Preservation, and Photography during World War II,” Museum History Journal 2, no. 2 (July 2009): 163–180

“The Artist in the House of His Patron: Images-within-Images in John Everett Millais’s Portraits of the Wyatt Family,” Visual Culture in Britain 9, no. 2 (Winter 2008): 1–20

“The Foundling Restored: Emma Brownlow King, William Hogarth, and the Public Image of the Foundling Hospital in the Nineteenth Century,” British Art Journal 9, no. 2 (Autumn 2008): 40–49

Courses Taught:

Undergraduate: Survey of Western Art; Eighteenth-Century Art in Europe; Nineteenth-Century Art in Europe; Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism; Writing for Art History; Senior Seminar: Victorian Art; Introduction to Museums; History of Art Museums

Graduate: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century; Victorian Art; The Pre-Raphaelites; Writing Seminar I; History of Exhibitions; Development and Analysis of Museum Exhibitions; Museum Collections