Dr Lucy Whelan
History of Art
Research Fellow in History of Art

Graham Robertson Research Fellow 

BA (Cambridge), MSt, DPhil (Oxford)

My research centres on modern art in Europe, with a particular focus on France. I seek to challenge interpretations of the history of art that are founded on supposed modernist ideals such as instantaneity and masculine mastery over the subject. Alongside looking closely at artworks, I take critical approaches to artists’ writings, artistic self-fashioning, and art criticism. Other interests include gender, the environment, and continental philosophy. 

My first book, Pierre Bonnard Beyond Vision, forthcoming with Yale University Press in spring 2022, presents a revised understanding of Pierre Bonnard’s practice as a painter, draughtsman, and photographer. It explores how his works offer original strategies for establishing art as a system of signs—but from within the tradition of figurative painting. As such it aims to reframe some of the major modernist innovations of the early twentieth century. 

I am currently working on a new project that rethinks art at the end of the Second World War from an ecological perspective. Focused on artists including Germaine Richier, Jean Dubuffet, and Wols, this project critically examines artistic practices that drew on natural and animal forms amid the toxic legacy of war. This project arises from my interest in ecological approaches to art history, and also attempts to answer an urgent contemporary question: how can representations of nature serve to conceal the reality of environmental damage? 

Before coming to Downing, I held a Hanseatic Scholarship from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I completed my DPhil at Oxford University in 2018. 


Pierre Bonnard Beyond Vision. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022. Formally accepted for publication in spring 2022. 

Articles and book chapters

‘Painting the Present after Impressionism: Pierre Bonnard and Time’s Continuous Duration’, forthcoming in Time on a Human Scale: Experiencing the Present in Europe, 1860-1930, ed. Allegra Fryxell and Julian Wright. Proceedings of the British Academy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. 

Lucy Whelan, ‘Pierre Bonnard’s Books: An Interpretation,’ Source: Notes in the History of Art 40, no. 4 (Summer 2021).

Lucy Whelan, ‘Pierre Bonnard’s Books: A Catalogue with an Introduction,’ Source: Notes in the History of Art 40, no. 3 (Spring 2021). 

‘New Light on Pierre Bonnard’s Wife and Model Marthe’, The Burlington Magazine 162, no. 1406 (May 2020): 412-19.


‘Review of Cézanne’s Gravity, by Carol Armstrong.’ Modernism/modernity 28, no. 1 (January 2021): 204-8.