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Dr Clare Taylor

Clare Taylor photo

Profile summary

  • Staff Tutor and Senior Lecturer in Art History
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Art His, Class St, Eng&CW, Mus
  • Art History
  • clare.taylor

Professional biography

I am an historian of art and design who specialises in the interior and its decoration. After a first degree in History at Durham I studied Art Gallery & Museum Studies at Manchester, and worked as an art curator at galleries including Manchester and Aberdeen where I was responsible for the restoration of a historic house museum and contributed to exhibitions on topics ranging from Scottish watercolours to the growth of public parks in Manchester. As a Curator for English Heritage I was also responsible, with the Royal Collection Trust, for the restoration of the Royal Nurseries at Osborne House

I received a Design History Society Research Bursary for my PhD ‘Figured Paper for Hanging Rooms’: The manufacture, design and consumption of wallpapers for English domestic interiors, c.1740-c.1800. Before joining the OU I was Lecturer in Contextual & Theoretical studies to Design based students at the Universities of Middlesex and Bucks New University. I have also taught for the Open University as an Associate Lecturer, delivering Undergraduate modules in Arts at all levels from pre-Degree to Level 3. As a Staff Tutor I now support Associate Lecturers and students on an extensive range of Arts modules.

Research interests

My interests in the material culture of the home, especially its design and decoration, grew out of an interest in wallpaper which I discovered in the collection at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. Study of wallpaper’s role in the interior raises issues related to gender difference and domesticity, perceptions of home and the relationship between art and architecture. Wallpaper also has moments when it moves from the background to the foreground, and it’s those moments that I have focused on in my research.

Wallpaper is a particularly interesting material through which to examine the shifting intersections between design, consumption and taste. I have looked at these intersections in several articles on the eighteenth century, examining the ways in which trade cards defined its commercially viable qualities and also at the relationship with papermaking and retailing. My forthcoming monograph The Design, Production & Reception of Eighteenth-century wallpaper in Britain  aligns the growth of paper hangings (wallpaper) with developing cultures of luxury, politeness and sociability through study of sites from town houses to country houses around the UK.

My interests in the eighteenth century interior have also taken me into the twentieth century. In 2014 I published the first study of the revival of interest in eighteenth-century Chinese wallpaper. I have also written on the wider subject of the Neo-Georgian interior, as manifested in both the country house and the London flat, for an edited volume published by English Heritage in 2016, the first study of Neo-Georgian architecture. This research has taken me into new areas of research among the men and women who worked in the nascent profession of interior designer, examining the relationship of historical styles to modernism. 

I welcome enquiries from potential research students, and would be happy to supervise topics related to my specialisms, in particular on eighteenth-century material culture, gender issues and on twentieth century design. I am the PI for an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award with the National Railway Museum, York:  ‘Home on the Rails: the Design, Fitting and Decoration of Train Interiors in Britain, c.1920-1955’. Contact:

Selected publications  


The Design, Production & Reception of Eighteenth-century wallpaper in Britain (Taylor & Francis, anticipated publication date February 2018)

Chapters in books

 ‘ “Modern Swedish Rococo”: the Neo-Georgian interior in Britain c.1920-c.1945’  in Holder, J. and McKellar, E. (eds) Re-Appraising Neo-Georgian Architecture: Colonial, Domestic and Pastoral Visions 1850-1970 (London: English Heritage, 2016), 151-166

‘ “Painted paper of Pekin”: eighteenth-century Chinese papers in 1920s Britain’, in Huang, M. (ed.) The Reception of Chinese Art across cultures (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014) 44-64

‘Chinese papers and English imitations in eighteenth-century Britain’, in Stavelow-Hidemark, E. (ed.) New Discoveries, New Research : Papers from the international wallpaper conference at the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 2007 (Stockholm: The Nordiska Museet, 2009) 36-53

Journal articles

English wallpaper manufacture, c.1700-c.1800’, The Quarterly: Journal of the British Association of Paper Historian, 83 (July 2012), 13-23

‘Eckhardts & Co and the supply of wall decorations for Shugborough’, Georgian Group Journal, xix (2011) 145-150

 ‘Reading the cards: trade cards as sources for studying the British Eighteenth-century wallpaper trade’, The Wallpaper History Review (2008) 29-32

‘The Division of the Wall: the use of wallpapers in decorative schemes 1870-1910’, Journal of the Decorative Arts Society, 12 (1988) 18-25


Teaching interests

I have contributed to the running of the Department's Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules including A226 Exploring Art & Visual Culture and A843 & A844, parts 1 and 2 of the MA in Art History. My online teaching contributions to part 2 of the MA (A844) are on understanding interiors, and on collecting and practice in the work of a twentieth century British designer, Enid Marx. I have also contributed a chapter on Chinoiserie in eighteenth-century Britain to the new Level 3 module, A344, Art & its Global Histories which starts in October 2017.

I have a particular interest in innovation in teaching, and support Associate Lecturers in their teaching of Art History, History and inter-disciplinary modules.

Impact and engagement

I frequently present to conferences on issues around home and its decoration, and am especially interested in inter-disciplinary approaches which I have most recently explored in ‘‘Resale, restore, reprint: Rediscovering historic wallpapers in early twentieth-century Britain’, paper presented to the 'Workiing with Wallpapers' coneference organised by the Wallpaper HistorySociety/English Heritage and held at Wrest Park, September 2016

My background in Curatorship has also led to an interest in the period room and its commercial antecedents, most recently explored in ‘Scholars, Dealers and decorators: In search of the Georgian period room’, paper presented to the AHRC project conference The Period room: Museum, Material, Experience, The Bowes Museum, September 2014

A third strand is the global and the interplay between imported luxury goods and new novelty products, discussed for example in my paper ‘”A Large Assortment of Curious India Paper”: the Eighteenth-Century English Market for Chinese Wallpaper’ to the conference ‘Chinese wallpaper: Trade, techniques and taste' organised by the V&A/RCA/National Trust, spring 2016

I am also interested in the ways in which contemporary designers and artists interpret and play with wallpaper, see for example ‘Figured Paper for Hanging Rooms: Consuming wallpaper in eighteenth-century Britain’, seminar paper presented to accompany ‘Fake/Function Thomas Schütte: Early Work’ Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, October 2007

External collaborations

As part of my online teaching contributions to A844, Part 2 of the MA in Art History, I recorded podcasts in collaboration with two museums, Compton Verney in Warwickshire and the Geffrye Museum of the Home in East London.

I am a member of a global network made up of scholars, curators, wallpaper manufacturers, heritage professionals and conservators interested in Chinese wallpaper.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Gender in the Humanities Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
Material Cultures Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts


English wallpaper manufacture, c.1700-c.1800 (2012-07)
Taylor, Clare
The Quarterly (Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians), 83 (pp. 13-23)
Eckhardts & Co and the supply of wall decorations for Shugborough (2011)
Taylor, Clare
The Georgian Group Journal, XIX (pp. 145-150)
Reading the cards: discovering the British eighteenth-century wallpaper trade (2008)
Taylor, Clare
The Wallpaper History Review (pp. 29-32)
‘Modern Swedish rococo’: the Neo-Georgian interior in Britain, c 1920–c 1945 (2016-05-15)
Taylor, Clare
In: McKellar, Elizabeth and Holder, Julian eds. Neo-Georgian Architecture 1880-1970: A Reappraisal (pp. 151-166)
ISBN : 978-1-84802-235-5 | Publisher : Historic England | Published : Swindon
“Painted paper of Pekin”: the taste for eighteenth-century Chinese papers in Britain, c.1918-c.1945 (2014-07-01)
Taylor, Clare
In: Huang, Michelle Ying-ling ed. The Reception of Chinese Art across Cultures (pp. 44-64)
ISBN : 978-1-4438-5909-7 | Publisher : Cambridge Scholars Publishing | Published : Cambridge
Chinese papers and English imitations in 18th Century Britain (2009)
Taylor, Clare
In: Stavenow-Hidemark, Elisabet ed. New Discoveries New Research: Papers from the International wallpaper conference held at the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 2007 (pp. 36-53)
ISBN : 978-91-7108-532-0 | Publisher : Nordiska Museets Forlag | Published : Stockholm