Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth


Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth is an art historian who specialises in European decorative arts, material culture and the histories of collecting, 1600-1900. Originally from rural Ireland, Caroline grew up close to the Belleek porcelain factory, where she discovered her love of ceramics. She is especially passionate about making art history and the decorative arts accessible to all. She was recently appointed as the new Curator of 17th and 18thCentury Ceramics and Glass at the V&A Museum, London. Since September 2018, Caroline has 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. She is currently working on her 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.

Caroline completed an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Leeds in 2019, where she is now also a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies. Her doctoral thesis focused on 'Sevres-mania’ and the histories of collecting Sevres porcelain after the French Revolution. She is now working this up into a monograph focused on transnational collection networks and the standardisation of cearmics connoisseurship. Her 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. She sits on the Board of the French Porcelain Society, is 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. 

Caroline regularly works 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

I am an early modern art and design historian specialising in the visual and material culture of Britain, France, and North America (c.1550-1900), with a particular focus on the histories of collecting, designing, and displaying European decorative arts and sculpture. My work considers how networks of designers, collectors, dealers, and agents interact with each other through object and knowledge exchange, producing new forms of historical discourse. 

Select 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