Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth


I am an art historian who specialises in European decorative arts, material culture and the histories of collecting, 1600–1900. Originally from rural Ireland, I grew up close to the Belleek porcelain factory, where she discovered her love of ceramics. I am especially passionate about making art history and the decorative arts accessible to all. I was recently appointed as the new Curator of 17th and 18th Century Ceramics and Glass at the V&A Museum, London. Since September 2018, I have worked as a Lecturer on the History of Design Masters with the V&A and the Royal College of Art, where she continues to teach courses on country houses and material culture, and supervises postgraduate students. I am currently working on my first monograph entitled Sèvres-mania: The Craft of Ceramics Connoisseurship which traces the formation of ceramics connoisseurship through collaborative collecting networks and sheds light on broader disciplinary boundaries, especially the dichotomy between the study of the fine and the decorative arts within art historical discourse.

I completed an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Leeds in 2019, where I am now also a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies. My doctoral thesis focused on 'Sevres-mania’ and the histories of collecting Sevres porcelain after the French Revolution. I am now working this up into a monograph focused on transnational collection networks and the standardisation of cearmics connoisseurship. My current research projects also include an examination of the art collector, botanist and philanthropist Lady Dorothy Nevill (1826–1913), and a post-doctoral project on the production of ceramics as political and historical agents during the 17th and 18th centuries. I sit on the Board of the French Porcelain Society, am a founding member of the Society for the History of Collecting, a Board Member of the English Ceramics Circle, and an External Examiner in Design History for University of Sunderland. 

I regularly work as a Guest Lecturer across a range of UG and MA courses and was previously a Teaching Fellow in History of Art and Museum Studies, 2019–2020.

As a Teaching Fellow in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, I ran undergraduate and postgraduate courses on the art market, dealers, decorative art, museum studies, and the history of museums. I act as a Personal Tutor and a Dissertation Supervisor for UG and MA students. In Spring 2017, I was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Winterthur Museum with University of Delaware where I authenticated their collection of French porcelain, and in Summer 2018 I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the prestigious three-week Attingham Trust Summer School. I previously worked as a Curator for The Chitra Collection.

Research interests

Selected publications

  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Potty Propaganda or History in the Making?’ Pots, Prints and Politics, British Museum Research Publications, London, forthcoming April 2021, ed., Patricia Ferguson.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Small Things & Revolutionary Histories: Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on printed ceramics, c.1793–1796’, for Small Things, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming Autum 2021, ed., Beth Tobin and Chloe Wigston Smith.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Visual Representations in 19th Century Furniture’ for The Cultural History of Furniture, Bloomsbury Academic Press, forthcoming Summer 2021 ed., Dr. Christina Anderson.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Agnew’s’, ‘Smith London Art Dealers’, ‘Frost & Reed’, ‘Victor Waddington Galleries’, ‘Taylor Art Galleries’, and ‘Albert Maurice Bender’, The Art Market Dictionary, De Gruyter Academic Press, ed., Dr. Johannes Nathan, Summer 2021.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Reclaiming her Scandalous Past: The Sèvres Collection of Lady Dorothy Nevill,’ French Porcelain Society Journal, Vol.VII, November 2018, pp.203–226.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Life was a spectacle for her’: Lady Dorothy Nevill née Walpole (1826-1913) as art collector, political hostess, and cultural philanthropist   Journal 19, Special Issue, ed., Dr Tom Stammers, January 2021.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth, ‘Current State of the Field: Design History’, History Journal, forthcoming, Autumn 2021.
  • Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth,  Paris and the Cliché of History, The City and Photographs, 1860-1970, by Catherine E. Clark, History Journal, (Oxford: Wiley Publications, 2020).
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Association for Art History
  • Attingham Trust
  • French Porcelain Society
  • English Ceramics Circle
  • Society for the History of Collecting