The north-east of Scotland has a distinguished architectural heritage from the middle ages onwards, while Aberdeen Art Gallery has a fine collection of French and British art. In addition to its unique William Dyce archive, it has one of the best collections of Victorian painting outside London, with examples of work by almost all the leading Victorian painters. The Macdonald Collection and the Peacock Print Archive are of special interest.

Scottish/British Art and Architecture

University of Aberdeen and Aberdeen City house major collections of British painting from the seventeenth-century to the present day. Utilising these collections as well as national repositories, our academic members of staff examine questions of national identity in the visual arts, history painting and genre imagery.

The University of Aberdeen campus and the North-East of Scotland enjoy a spectacular and distinct architectural heritage, dominated by granite and moderated by sandstone. The rich countryside teems with castles and fine estates, many of whose unexplored archives are deposited in the university library.

The Buildings of Scotland Project, directed by Professor Jane Geddes and researched by Leverhulme fellows Joseph Sharples, Dr David Walker and Dr Matthew Woodworth, has opened up the field for further exploration.


We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work in Scottish and British Art and Architecture at the doctoral level. Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a PhD in their subject area.

Professor John Morrison: Supervision is offered in Scottish and British painting. With an extensive publication record in the area of nineteenth- and twentieth-century British art, Professor Morrison's interests lie centrally in questions of national identity in the visual arts, history painting and genre imagery.

Dr Helen Pierce: Supervision is offered in the area of British art of the period c.1530-1750, including painting, prints and drawings, and sculpture; patronage and modes of display. Current staff research interests include painting and patronage in England and Scotland during the Interregnum; amateur artists, virtuosi, and provincial collectors.

Dr Mary Pryor: Supervision is offered in the areas of the use of paintings, including portraiture, as propaganda in Scotland and its universities in the early modern and modern periods.

Professor Jane Geddes: Supervision is offered in architectural investigation based on material and archival evidence, particularly relating to buildings of North-East Scotland, style, patronage, function. Current research aims to develop the resources of the Buildings of Scotland series.

PGR Students

Some current (and graduated) students and their projects from the University of Aberdeen include:

  • Andrew Popple, Art of Social Engagement in Scotland, 1939-1987: contributing to socio-political debate?
  • Lindsey Cordiner Vyse, The Architecture of Healing
  • Wendy Mcglashan, Enlightenment Society Observed: The Edinburgh Portraits of John Kay 1784-1822

The following are some selected publications relating to Scottish and British Art and Architecture by staff at the University of Aberdeen:

Professor John Morrision

  •  'John Duncan, Patrick Geddes and the Celtic Revival'. Journal of Scottish Thought.
  • 'Holland and France: Prototype and Paradigm for Nineteenth-Century Scottish Art'. Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies, vol 2, no. 1, pp. 123-138.
  • 'Debating Chamber. The Royal Scottish Academy and Artistic Discourse in the Nineteenth Century', in Ages of Wonder. The Royal Scottish Academy and its collections. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Ages of Wonder, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 1-31 December.
  • Painting Labour in Scotland and Europe, 1850-1900. Ashgate Publishing Limited, Farnham.     
  • Land and Landscape: The Painting of James Morrison. The Fleming Wyfold Art Foundation, London.

Dr Helen Pierce

  • 'Graphic satire and the printed image in Shakespeare's London' in Malcolm Smuts (ed.), The Age of Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • '"This Ingenious young Gent and excellent artist": William Lodge (1649-1689) and the York Virtuosi' in Mark Hallett, Nigel Llewelyn and Martin Myrone (eds.), Court, Country, City: Studies in British Art, Volume 24 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2016).
  • Unseemly Pictures: Graphic Satire and Politics in Early Modern England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008).
  • 'Images, representation, and counter-representation' in Joad Raymond (ed.), The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, Vol.1: Britain and Ireland to 1660 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  •  'The devil's bloodhound: Roger L'Estrange caricatured', in Michael Hunter (ed.), Printed Images in Early Modern Britain: Essays in Interpretation (Ashgate Press, 2010).

Dr Mary Pryor

  • 'John and Cosmo Alexander: Of Recusancy, Jacobites and Aberdeen Junctures'. Recusant History, vol 31, no. 2, pp. 219-238.
  • Pryor, MR. & Morrison, JC. (2013). The King’s Paintings: Preaching to the Times. in J Geddes (ed.), King’s College Chapel Aberdeen 1500-2000. Maney Publishing.
  • Picturing the Divisiveness of Union. in A Mackillop & M O Siochru (eds), Forging the State: European State Formation and the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707. Dundee University Press, Dundee, pp. 153-174.
  • Pryor, MR. & Morrison, JC. (2007). Caught in the Springe of the Kirke - For Covenant and King: Charles II 1650-51. in P Davidson & J Bepler (eds), Triumphs of the Defeated: Early Modern Festivals and Messages of Legitimacy. Wolfenbuttler Forschungen, no. 116, Harrassowitz in Kommission, Wiesbaden, pp. 191-225.
  • The Sibyls as Signifiers: From Prophetesses in Antiquity to Cultural and Religious Icons in Seventeenth-Century Scotland. in NCJ Pappas (ed.), Antiquity and Modernity: First International Conference on European History. Atiner, Athens, Greece, pp. 141-148, ATINER: 1st International Conference on European History, Athens, Greece, 29-1 January.

Professor Jane Geddes

  • 'Tullich Aberdeenshire: a reappraisal of an early ecclesiastical site and its carved stones in the light of recent excavations'. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol 145, pp. 229-281.    
  • 'Heaven's Gates: Medieval Decorative Ironwork and its meaning'. Cornerstone Magazine, vol 29, no. 2, pp. 42-48.
  • 'The Organ, the Ambo and the Pulpitum'. Ecclesiology Today, Journal of the Ecclesiological Society, vol 34, no. Jan 2005, pp. 16-47.
  • Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology in the Dioceses of Aberdeen and Moray. The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon.
  • Deeside and the Mearns: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Unknown Publisher, Royal Incorporation of Scottish Architects.

Some helpful links for further information and resources in Scottish and British Art and Architecture include: