Dr Helen Pierce

Dr Helen Pierce


Dr Helen Pierce
Dr Helen Pierce

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272621
The University of Aberdeen History of Art, School of Divinity, History & Philosophy, 50-52 College Bounds, ABERDEEN, AB24 3DS


PhD, History of Art, University of York

MA, History of Art, University of York

BA (Hons), English and History of Art, University of York

I arrived at the University of Aberdeen in September 2010 as a Teaching Fellow in History of Art, having previously been employed as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of York's Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and as an Associate Lecturer for the Open University. I was appointed as Lecturer in British Art in June 2012. I've also held research fellowships at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC and the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Internal Memberships and Affiliations

School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, Student Journey Lead

History of Art Student Engagement and Employability Officer

History of Art Library Representative

History of Art Social Media Officer

Elected member of the University Senate, 2014-18


Research Overview

I carry out research into British art of the early modern period (c.1550-1750), with a particular focus on the interplay between printed images, propaganda and polemic across the seventeenth century. My monograph Unseemly Pictures: Graphic Satire and Politics in Early Modern England redresses an established art historical bias privileging genres such as elite portraiture over printed media, and challenges the presence of a pervasive 'iconophobia' in post-Reformation English culture.

Most recently, I've contributed chapters to edited collections on popular prints in Shakespearean England, and on the amateur artist William Lodge (1649-89), and have also written about the use of printed images as propaganda during the Exclusion Crisis of the 1680s. I'm now working on two projects: a history of British political caricature, from the seventeenth-century to the present day, and a study examining the artistic activities and cultural networking of the late seventeenth-century group known as the 'York Virtuosi'.

Francis Barlow, The Brutish Combatants, c.1679-80, Wellcome Collection

 Francis Barlow, The Brutish Combatants, engraving, 1679-80. Credit: Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Research Funding and Grants

2015                 Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Research Support Grant

2008                 Institute for Historical Research, Scouloudi Historical Award

2007                 Huntington Library, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship

2006                 Folger Shakespeare Library, Short-Term Fellowship

2005                 Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Postdoctoral Fellowship

2000-2003         Arts and Humanities Reseach Board Doctoral Award


Teaching Responsibilities

During the second semester of the 2018-19 academic year, I will be on research leave. My usual teaching responsibilities include: 

HA1004 Introduction to Art History (course convenor)

HA1508 Modern Art

HA2009 Cathedrals to Caravaggio

HA2509 Making Masterpieces: Six Works in Context

HA2806 In the Flesh: Art on Location (course convenor)

HA3012/HA4012 Art and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (course convenor)

HA3079 Critical Perspectives in Art History

HA3082/HA4082 Painting in Tudor and Early Stuart England (course convenor)

HA3085/HA4085 Art and Politics in Early Modern Britain (course convenor)

HA3088 Fieldwork 1

HA5032 Art and Business core course


***Winner of the 'Fantastic Feedback' category and nominated for 'Innovative Teaching' in the 2010/11 University of Aberdeen Student-Led Teaching Awards.***

I also welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students looking to carry out doctoral research in the visual arts of early modern Britain.

Together with Professor John Morrison, I am currently supervising Wendy McGlashan's PhD on the Edinburgh barber and self-taught artist John Kay (1742-1826), funded by a Carnegie Scholarship. You can find out more about Wendy's research here.