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Department of History of Art



Paul Binski is Professor of the History of Medieval Art.

He read History and History of Art at Caius College, Cambridge, and received a Cambridge PhD in 1984.  He was a Research Fellow at Caius until 1987, when he left the UK with a Getty Postdoctoral award which he held at Princeton, before moving to Yale as an Assistant Professor.  In 1991 he returned to the UK to work at Manchester University as a lecturer, before moving back to Cambridge in 1995.  He was Slade Professor, Oxford University, 2006-7.

He has specialized in the art and architecture of Western Europe in the Gothic period. His earliest work was on the palace and abbey at Westminster, his first book The Painted Chamber at Westminster appearing in 1986. His research interests have subsequently covered a wide variety of fields and media, and he has published on French, Italian and Scandinavian as well as English art. An important vehicle for education has been the exhibition. He collaborated on Age of Chivalry (1987), the catalogue of the memorable exhibition at the Royal Academy which he co-edited with Jonathan Alexander. He was one of the organizers of the Cambridge Illuminations exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge (2005).  With Patrick Zutshi, he published Western Illuminated Manuscripts: a Catalogue of the collection Cambridge University Library (2011).

A list of publications to 2014 is attached and is periodically updated.

His book Westminster Abbey and the Plantagenets (1995), was a winner of the Longman’s-History Today Prize and won the Yale University Press Governor’s Award for the best book published by Yale by an author under 40.  Becket’s Crown, Art and Imagination in Gothic England 1170-1300 (2004) was winner of the 2006 Historians of British Art Prize in the single-author book category on a topic pre-1800 published in 2004, and the Ace-Mercers 2005 International Book Prize. He completed a three-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship devoted to Gothic Wonder: Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style 1290-1350, published with Yale University Press, 2014. Gothic Wonder was shortlisted for the 2015 William M B Berger Prize and was finalist for the 2016 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, College Art Association. It won the 2016 Historians of British Art Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period before 1800.

He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America. He is a Fellow of Caius College, Cambridge.

Paul Binski was British Academy Aspects of Art Lecturer, 2001. He gave the Paul Mellon Lectures, 2002-3, at the National Gallery, London and Yale University. He was a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 1987-88 and Ailsa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellow at the National Gallery of Art, at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Washington, 1992 (Fall). He held a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in 2003-4.  He was Associate Editor of the periodical Art History 1992-97 and has served and is presently serving as a Foreign Advisor, International Center of Medieval Art, The Cloisters, New York. He serves on the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission.  An enthusiastic musician, organist and harpsichordist, he is chairman of a charity devoted to propagating performance knowledge of organ music, the Cambridge Academy of Organ Studies.

Present projects: Paul Binski is completing a short book on medieval sculpture and aesthetics in western Europe 1100-1500 and has articles in press on the reception of Heinrich Wölfflin in England, charisma and medieval culture, medieval rood screens, the aesthetics of alabaster, microarchitecture, Matthew Paris and aspects of Westminster Abbey. He is also working with Dr Emily Guerry and Dr Lucy Wrapson on a study of the Gothic murals in the apse of Angers cathedral.

He retires from full-time teaching in September 2019.

List of publications


Emeritus Professor of the History of Medieval Art
Fellow of Gonville and Caius College
Professor Paul  Binski

Contact Details

01223 332975