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Ms Katie Ault

Profile summary

Professional biography

MA Fine Art (Edinburgh), Post-Graduate Diploma Art Gallery and Museum Studies (Manchester), MA Art History (Open University).

I began my PhD in 2018 having completed my Masters at The Open University with Distinction. My MA dissertation was a short-listed runner-up for the Association for Art History's post-graduate dissertation prize 2017 (Katharine Ault: 'How did Ugolino di Nerio's Santa Croce Polyptych challenge and change the art historical canon between 1780 and 1887?'). I have worked for a number of cultural organisations including Royal Collections Trust, Barbican Art Gallery and London Museum of Jewish Life. I am a professional artist and have exhibited at group and solo exhibitions in and around London.

Research interests

Giotto and Non-Giotto in Nineteenth-Century Britain

My PhD research focuses on the circulation, display and reception of works attributed to the fourteenth-century Italian artist Giotto di Bondone and the changing ways in which his artistic identity was constructed in nineteenth-century Britain. It asks questions about the status Giotto was accorded in the rebirth of painting. It investigates the disjunction between Giotto’s canonical status in texts, and the works that were attributed to him – which at the end of the eighteenth century held little appeal for the majority of collectors and tourists.  

My research explores the way these attitudes evolved during the nineteenth century, when many works attributed to Giotto entered private collections in Britain. It probes the criteria involved in attributing work to him, and it seeks to unravel the circumstances that made their loan to public exhibitions and their acquisition by public institutions possible. It asks where and how works were displayed, and what values they were made to demonstrate.

This project brings back into focus objects that were once ascribed significance on account of their attribution to Giotto but whose shared identity has been obscured following their subsequent allocation to numerous other artists. It also shines a light on texts that have, until recently, been overlaid by subsequent art historical writing that has sought to correct earlier accounts of Giotto’s life and work.

The project is funded by an AHRC doctoral award through CHASE, the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England. 

Impact and engagement


Katharine Ault, 'A Predella Panel from Cecco di Pietro's Agnano Altarpiece', The Burlington Magazine, November, No.1064, pp.766-770, 1991.

Conference paper

‘Private ownership, public display and commodification: Ugolino di Nerio’s Santa Croce Polyptych in nineteenth-century Britain’, Art as Commodities as Art, University of York, 14 June 2019.

Seminar paper

'A Queen in Manchester: "Giotto’s Coronation of the Virgin" at The Art Treasures of Great Britain exhibition, 1857', Giotto's Circle, 20 June 2022.