From conception onwards, Stuart offspring were presented to their subjects through texts, images and public celebrations. Audiences were exhorted to share in their development, establishing affective bonds with the royal family and its latest additions. Yet inviting the public into Stuart domestic affairs exposed them to intense scrutiny and private interactions were endowed with public dimensions. Images of royal children had the potential both to support and to undermine dynastic messages. In Imaging Stuart Family Politics, Catriona explores the promotion of Stuart familial propaganda through the figure of the royal child. Bringing together royal ritual, court portraiture and popular prints, she offers a distinctive perspective on this crucial dimension of seventeenth-century political culture, exploring the fashioning and dismantling of reproductive imagery, as well as the vital role of visual display within these dialogues. Catriona's first book was awarded the Royal Studies Journal biennial book prize.
Under the Stuarts, the focus of royal monuments transformed from religious to secular commemoration. Statues were set up in strategically-selected locations as an exercise in persuasion and control, visually articulating the reach of royal power. However, they also became sites for public interventions, which both supported and contested Stuart government. Catriona's second monograph project will offer the first in-depth analysis of the development of public sculpture as a political agent in early modern Britain. Exploring how statues mediated state authority, public loyalty and opposition at a critical juncture, this project will fundamentally shift understanding of the politics of monumental commemoration.
John Michael Wright (1617-94) has been consistently overlooked and underplayed in art-historical narratives of early modern Britain. Nevertheless, he was unique among his contemporaries as an indigenous British artist, with cosmopolitan influences, polymathic interests and a varied artistic output. Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, this collaborative research project with the National Galleries of Scotland will adopt a new perspective, analysing the political, religious and cultural networks in which he operated and reassessing Wright as a resourceful artist with a versatile repertoire. His remarkable career offers a valuable lens through which to view the broad canvas of late seventeenth-century Britain and its arts.
The earliest biographies of King James VI and I (1566-1625) characterised him as weak, uncouth and immoral. His public reputation has improved little since. This research and exhibition project with the National Galleries of Scotland, however, aims to rehabilitate the king’s memory, exploring the far-reaching political impacts of his rule and the rich culture of the Jacobean court.