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Department of History of Art


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The Slade Professorship of Fine Art at Cambridge was founded in 1869 as the result of a bequest from the art collector Felix Slade (1788-1868). At the same time, similar chairs were founded in the Universities of Oxford and London. Originally Slade Professors were elected, and sometimes re-elected, for three-year terms. In 1961 the practice changed and since then visiting Slade Professors have been elected on an annual basis. Holders of the Chair usually deliver eight public lectures and four classes for students in the department during either the Michaelmas or the Lent Term of their year in office. The Slade Professorship of Fine Art has been held by many of the most distinguished historians of art and architecture from around the world.

Lectures almost always take place on Tuesdays from 5-6pm .

Nicholas PennyThe Lent Term 2020 Professor of Fine Art is Dr Nicholas Penny. His lecture series is entitled 'Avatars of Antiquity: Premise and Practice in European Painting and Sculpture 1500 – 2000'.

The lectures will trace some of the practices that were long considered essential in the education of an artist – notably, the study of the nude model and of plaster casts, expressive heads, and drapery – as well as some of the major themes and subjects that depended upon, or arose from, such practices. The intention is to reveal some of the premises, and to explore some of the priorities, that were shared by European artists from Verrocchio to Picasso. Special attention will be given to works by Raphael, Bernini, Guido Reni, Canova and Degas in addition to many less familiar sculptors and painters. Every lecture will give special attention to the different ways in which ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was invoked, imitated, interpreted and, occasionally, rejected.


The Slade Professor of Fine Art appointments for the next five years are as follows:

2020–21   Professor Philippe Descola, Collège de France

2021–22   Dr Maria Balshaw, Tate Galleries

2022–23   Professor Kavita Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru University

2023–24   Professor Pascal Griener, Université de Neuchâtel

2024–25   Professor Farshid Moussavi, Harvard University Graduate School 
of Design 


More information on the lecture series is available here.

For more details please see the 'News' and 'Events' sections.

List of Slade Professors in the Department from 1869.



Slade Lecture Series poster Lent 2020

Slade Lectures 2019 Jennifer Roberts poster

Slade Lectures 2017 poster

Slade Poster2016

Slade 2015 Poster v2.jpg

Slade 2013 Poster v2