Brigid von Preussen

History of Art
Junior Research Fellow


MA (Cantab); MA (Warburg Institute); MPhil (Columbia)

Academic Background

I studied History of Art at the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate and then completed an MA in Intellectual and Cultural History (1300-1650) at the Warburg Institute before beginning my PhD studies in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.

Research Interests

My field of research is art and design in Britain in the long eighteenth century. I am particularly interested in the relationship between aesthetics and ‘style’ on the one hand, and commercial or technical imperatives on the other. I am also concerned with how artistic identities were constructed and presented in an art world that increasingly encompassed both industrially produced and handcrafted objects. My research focuses on the consolidation of the category of ‘fine art’ (as distinct from the ‘decorative’, ‘applied’ or ‘mechanical’ arts) and the relationship between artistic practice and changing models of authorship — including those defined and protected by copyright legislation.

My doctoral thesis, which will become my first book manuscript, examines the relationship between classicism, reproduction, and authorship in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Britain. I argue that the impersonal, modular, and repetitive aesthetics of ‘Neoclassical’ objects are closely linked to the rise of new techniques of reproduction and standardisation. Through case studies of the work of Robert Adam, Josiah Wedgwood, John Flaxman, and Angelica Kauffmann, I analyse the tension between the imitative rhetoric of classicism, the reproducibility of artistic commodities, and emerging notions of proprietary authorship and individual artistic genius.

My next research project focuses on the relationship between sculpture and the ‘mechanical’ arts in Britain between the foundation of the Royal Academy (1768) and the Great Exhibition (1851). Entitled ‘The Sculpture Industry’, this project rethinks the history of sculpture’s interaction with mechanical production, and asks how this interaction has shaped perceptions of authorship and artistic value in both arenas.

I have a broad interest in the history of different forms of reproduction in the plastic arts. In 2017, I co-organised the workshop ‘Printed Stone: Sculpture and its Images’ at the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL, which explored the relationship between sculpture and print-making, from intaglio plates to advanced digital mapping techniques.


‘“A wild kind of imagination”: eclecticism and excess in the English rococo designs of Thomas Johnson’, in Melissa Hyde and Katie Scott, eds., Rococo Echo: Art, History and Historiography from Cochin to Coppola (Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2014), pp. 191-211.

‘1779’ and ‘1801’, in Mark Hallett, Sarah Victoria Turner, and Jessica Feather, eds., The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769-2018 (published online by The Paul Mellon Centre, forthcoming)