School of the Arts, English and Drama

School staff

Prof Alison Yarrington

Photo of Prof Alison Yarrington

Professor of Art History

Alison Yarrington is Professor of Art History. An art historian specialising in the history of British art and sculpture c.1750-1914, her research interests include sculpture’s display histories, the marble trade, women and sculpture, public sculpture, maritime sculpture, and, more broadly, British-Italian cultural transactions and the history of collections and collecting.

 Alison took a Foundation Course at Chesterfield College of Art and Design, before training in Fine Art and Art History at the University of Reading. She went on to complete her PhD in Art History at Darwin College, Cambridge. She began her academic career at the University of Leicester, where she held a Chair in Art History and became Dean of the Faculty of Arts. She then held the post of Richmond Professor of Fine Art at the University of Glasgow and Head of the Department of Art History and then of the Institute of Art History. Latterly she served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Hull. Alison is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She is Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Hull.  Alison is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and a Governor of Glasgow School of Art. She served as Chair of the Association of Art Historians 2011- 2014 and is a member of the British National Committee of the international subject association for art history, CIHA [Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art].

Alison was Principal Investigator for the major AHRC-funded online database project Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951( This took the form of a collaboration between colleagues from the University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts and the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, and jointly funded by the AHRC, the British Academy and the Henry Moore Foundation. This database is the first authoritative study of sculptors, related businesses and trades investigated in the context of creative collaborations, art infrastructures, professional networks and cultural geographies. Containing over 50,000 records about sculptural practice, reflecting significant new research on over 3,000 sculptors and 900-1100 related businesses and trades active in Britain and Ireland, the database allows for the numerous connections between different areas of practice to be explored by the user.

As a leading British sculpture historian, Alison was also Academic Advisor for the re-display of the Sculpture Gallery at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, which reopened to the public in 2009. This was the outcome of a major programme of research to return it to the display that visitors encountered c.1858, the year of William Cavendish the 6th Duke of Devonshire’s death. She worked closely with the Chatsworth curators, archivists and Cliveden Conservation on the redisplay of the Duke’s significant collection of contemporary European sculpture and decorative marble items.

Her current research continues to build on these areas, as well as developing interests in the field of maritime visual and material culture. She is working with the National Maritime Museum in London as well as the Universities of Hull, Malta and Pisa to build a network of scholars examining the artefactual aspects of sea-based trade and cultural exchange, as well as the deployment of sculpture and sculptural decoration within the environment of the ship in the period c.1600-1900.

Christina (Mimmi) Brandberg, ‘Henry Moore in the Nordic Countries’

Erica McCarthy, ‘Ships’ Figureheads’ (a Collaborative Doctoral Award between the University of Hull and the National Maritime Museum, London)

Meredith Greiling, ‘Votive Ships’ Models’ (University of Hull Alumni Award)