Professor Phillip Lindley

Professor Phillip Lindley guiding visitors to 'Thetford's Lost Tudor Sculptures' exhibition in 2013
Professor Phillip Lindley guiding visitors to 'Thetford's Lost Tudor Sculptures' exhibition in 2013
Professor of Art History

Contact details

Tel: 0116 252 2840


Office: Attenborough 1610

Personal details

My academic training was at the University of Cambridge. I graduated with a first-class degree in History of Art in 1980 and stayed on to read my PhD at Downing College, where I was awarded a Bye Fellowship for outstanding doctoral research. In 1985 I was awarded a Research Fellowship at St. Catharine's College and in 1988 was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which I took to the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York. I came to Leicester in 1991 and was Head of Department from 1998 to 2003, during which time I introduced the study of Film. In 2004, I founded the Centre for the Study of the Country House and direct the Campus-based and DL MA programmes as well as our outward-facing study days and public lectures. In 1992 I was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2002.

Current research projects

My current research is focused in four related areas:

1. Exhibition curation. My most recent contribution has been to the 2017 exhibition curated by Dr Meredith Hale, Eileen Cooper: a Woman’s Skin, at Wolfson College, Cambridge. I wrote an essay for the catalogue, identifying important recent changes in Eileen Cooper’s artistic practice. I have a long-standing interest in the physical objects produced by artists, the ways in which they are made and artists’ intentions in making them. This interest extends from contemporary sculpture and painting right back to the Middle Ages. I worked with Richard Deacon, Britain’s greatest contemporary abstract sculptor, on an exhibition showing the effects of Reformation attacks on medieval and Tudor imagery: Image & Idol: Medieval Sculpture, at Tate Britain 2001-2. This innovative exhibition about the effects of Iconoclasm [image destruction] was itself iconoclastic, offering a new approach to exhibition installation, critiquing the sub-modernist displays of many intellectually moribund ‘blockbuster’ shows. The controversy round Deacon’s exhibition installations still resonates internationally and is the subject of my retrospective paper in Wolfgang Brückle, Pierre Alain Mariaux and Daniela Mondini (eds), Musealisierung Mittelalterlicher Kunst, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2015. I curated another exhibition with Deacon, Richard Deacon: This Is Where Ideas Come From, at Wolfson College, Cambridge, in 2015. This displayed Deacon’s models for large-scale sculpture, none of which had ever been exhibited before, and investigated his processes in conceiving and fabricating his sculptures.

Richard Deacon Installation, 'Image and Idol', Tate Britain
Installation photograph 2001: 'Image and Idol', at Tate Britain.

Richard Deacon and Phillip Lindley installing the exhibition 'This is Where Ideas Come From' at Wolfson College, Cambridge in 2015.

 2. The application of new scientific techniques and technology in collaborative multi-disciplinary projects. Most recently I investigated the tomb-monuments of the Tudor dukes of Norfolk at Framlingham, Suffolk. The project, 'Representing Re-Formation: Reconstructing Renaissance Monuments’, was an innovative multi-disciplinary venture, with researchers at Leicester's Space Research Centre, and in Museum Studies and Computer Science, at Merton College, Oxford and the Yale Center for British Art (Yale University), working together with English Heritage and NMAS. We employed 3D scanning and printing as well as conventional archaeological techniques to virtually disassemble and reconstruct the originally intended forms of the monuments, which were originally planned to stand in Thetford Priory, forty miles away. Our work has been featured on BBC Television and Radio. We organised two symposia, in Leicester and Cambridge, and designed an app on Thetford Priory in connection with it. I have lectured widely on the project in the UK, France, Italy and the USA. The project was made possible by a half million pound grant from the Science and Heritage Programme (AHRC and EPSRC), with three PhD studentships attached to it, running from 2010 to 2013. In 2013-14, I curated Thetford's Lost Tudor Sculptures, a small show in the authentically Tudor setting of Thetford's Ancient House Museum. Here, the installation, co-organised with my colleague Dr Ross Parry, the designer Ian Drake and Oliver Bone and his staff at the museum, employed 3D scans and prints and a video by the artist Andrew Williams, combining them with sculpted fragments in an intense, didactic show exploring notions of authenticity and agency. The first collaborative book from the project, The Tudors and the Howards: Studies in Science and Heritage appeared in October 2015, published by Shaun Tyas. More recently, I have collaborated with Enigma Interactive on the virtual recreation of the formal gardens of Boughton House, and with Europac 3D on the sculptural programme of the fifteenth-century Warwick Chantry Chapel in Tewkesbury Abbey. 

Phased diagram
Phased diagram of 3D scanned and disassembled monuments, Framlingham

3. Historicism and the recuperation of the British past, in the past. This was the subject of my last monograph, Tomb Destruction and Scholarship which I wrote during a Leverhulme Trust award in 2007. A visiting Scholarship at the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University, in 2009 enabled me to study the Regency draughtsman Charles Alfred Stothard, on whose work I have published papers in British and US journals. I have given invited lectures on historicism in the UK, Italy and USA.

4. Monumental sculpture. Recent work on the monuments at Warkton by L.F. Roubiliac, the greatest sculptor to work in eighteenth-century England, helped underwrite a successful bid for a major Heritage Lottery Fund award for their conservation. I co-organised a symposium on Roubiliac and the ducal monuments of the Montagus at Boughton House and have delivered plenary lectures on monumental sculpture in the UK, Europe and USA. At Prof Susie Nash's invitation, I recently delivered a plenary lecture at the Courtauld Institute, 'Taking Leave of Panofsky,' commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Erwin Panofsky's book Tomb Sculpture in 1964.

I have substantial experience of heading collaborative teams and have organised several international conferences and edited or co-edited eleven books, the most recent of which appeared in May 2016. I was the principal supervisor for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust, with Professor Rosemary Sweet as second-supervisor. Dr Megan Leyland was awarded her doctorate on 'Gender Patronage and Architecture in the Nineteenth-Century Country House' and is now a senior architectural historian for English Heritage. My PhD students have included Dutch, German, Swedish and American citizens as well as British ones. So far, eleven have been awarded their doctorates; two their research MPhils, and more than fifty their MAs through the Country House programme. I am generally interested in supervising PhD students in any of my areas of expertise but for UK and EU students, the competitiveness of AHRC awards means that a first class BA and a distinction in your MA are essential prerequisites if you seek state funding.

Learn more about research degrees in the Department of the History of Art & Film



HA7010 The Country House in Art, History and Literature

HA7020 Research Skills

HA7000 Dissertation

All the DL Country House modules


HA3426 British Gothic Sculpture

HA3401 Dissertation

HA2219 Documents

HA2218 Modernity and Tradition

HA1112 Introduction to the History of Art I

HA1113 Introduction to the History of Art II

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