Seminar Programme

The Institute of Historical Research at the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London hosts our seminar on Collecting & Display. The monthly seminars take place at the Institute, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU. Seminars begin at 6.00 and last approximately one hour. 

Please see the Conferences page for recent updates.


Our seminars in Summer 2021 will take place on Zoom.

Monday, 17th May at 6 p.m.

MaryKate Cleary, University of Edinburgh, will speak on:

‘The Galerie Paul Rosenberg: Transnational Networks and the Market for French Contemporary Art, 1918–1945’

By the start of World War I, art dealer, collector and publisher Paul Rosenberg (1881–1959) had developed a successful business and legendary stock of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French art. He specialized in Barbizon School, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and after 1918, represented the young artists of contemporary Paris, including Marie Laurencin, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque. Rosenberg was the first art dealer systematically to expand the lineage of the Great French Masters to encompass the inter-war avant-garde, a strategy that made him one of most financially successful art dealers of the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1920s and 1930s, Rosenberg also built an unparalleled network of networks and dealer collaborations to distribution French art internationally. As a result of the Nazi Occupation of Paris in 1940, however, Rosenberg became one of the most prominent victims of Nazi spoliation in France.

Engaging for the first time unpublished correspondence, transactional records and photographic material from the recently-processed Paul Rosenberg Archives (MoMA, New York), as well as primary-source materials from state archives in France and Germany, this research investigates the critical role played by Rosenberg in the promotion and sale of French art on an international market in the early twentieth century and the impact of the Nazi regime on his practice. Particular attention will be given to (1) Rosenberg’s entrepreneurial strategies, including placing contemporary art in the lineage of French aesthetic identity of previous centuries; (2) transnational dealer networks between Germany, Britain and the United States; (3) Rosenberg’s institutional engagement, especially in the United States and (4) the plunder of Rosenberg’s collection and gallery stock, filling a critical gap in research into mechanisms of spoliation of against Jewish art dealers and collectors in France during the Occupation, and their agency in restitution.


MaryKate Cleary is an art historian specializing in the art and cultural politics of Germany and France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a particular focus on provenance research, history of collecting and cultural property issues in the Nazi Era. She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where her research focuses on the Galerie Paul Rosenberg and the transnational market for avant-garde art in the inter-war era.  MaryKate is an experienced provenance researcher, having worked over the past decade with Holocaust victims and their heirs, as well as museums, toward the resolution of Nazi-era restitution claims. She has been an Adjunct Professor at New York University, where she taught the first academic course dedicated to Provenance Research and a Fulbright Fellow at the Technische Universität Dresden. MaryKate is co-organiser of the interdisciplinary Research Cluster on Collecting and the Art Market at the University of Edinburgh.

Monday, 14th June at 6 p.m.

Adelaide Duarte will speak on:

Museu Coleção Berardo: The Deviation of a Collector’s Narrative

In today’s globalized world, private collectors have played an increasingly important role in cultural life and their categorization has become more complex. As discussed in Marta Gnyp, The Shift, 2015, leading cosmopolitan collectors dominate the global art system, metaphorically enhance art history, help to create artistic values, exercise patronage and commission new artworks. Sometimes they collect for the public domain (James Stourton, Great Collectors of our Time, 2007), opening private museums or giving their collections to public museums.

The narrative about private collectors has been changing. As collectors turn into iconic figures and cultural models, arguably shaping the taste and the artistic canon, academic and institutional narratives follow these changes. At the same time, we can see the collector interfering with the collection’s narrative and with the image he/she intends to associate with their social role. This is the case with the Berardo Collection.

José Berardo is a Portuguese millionaire mentioned twice on ArtReview Power100, who has assembled a modern and contemporary art collection. This collection, containing an overview of the twentieth century’s most important art movements, is unique in Portugal. Formed with a view to public display, the collection has been known as The Berardo Collection Museum since 2007 (Lisbon), through an agreement with the Portuguese Government, with the collection being lent in exchange for the museum’s opening.

In this presentation, the narrative that has been created around the collection will be analysed, both in academic terms and through the catalogues, as well as in the periodical press, from the collector’s perspective. The purpose is to confront the motives for gathering the artworks, the methods used by the collector, and to relate them to the cultural importance of the collection, emphasizing the controversial image that the collector has in current Portuguese society.

Adelaide DUARTE is an art historian, researcher, and assistant professor at the Institute of Art History, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. She is the Executive Coordinator of the Postgraduate Program “Art Market and Collecting” at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, since it began in 2016, and also the coordinator of TIAMSA subcommittee Art Market and Collecting in the European Southern Countries and Brazil. Member of the research group “Museum Studies: Art, Museums, and Collections”. She is vice-president of the Friends Association of the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado in Lisbon.

Monday July 5, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Dr. Sujatha Chandrasekaran will speak on:

Merle de Massoneau and the formation of his collection of antiquities

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, collectors of ancient art look towards Imperial Russia and its Black Sea littoral as a place of rich and beautiful finds of all periods and styles, ranging from Scythian to the prized Greco-Roman to Islamic and medieval. The abundant finds of the region were steadily filling the Russian royal museum collections and, by World War I, a handful of Western museums had managed to acquire ancient art and artefacts from Southern Russia through various dealers. The most substantial collections of such art were acquired by four museums – in New York, Philadelphia, Cologne and Berlin – all at different times and through various channels. Recently, however, archaeologist Alexander Leskov was able to demonstrate a single source for all four assemblages – the French collector Merle de Massoneau.

Who was this Frenchman who began his career as an employee of the Czar to later found the Banque d’Orient in Paris? How did he manage to amass such an abundant collection and remove it from imperial Russia, making it the largest collection of Southern Russian antiquities outside that country?

This paper will present the assemblages of the Massoneau collection while exploring the elusive person of the collector himself and the situation that allowed him to quietly procure and remove this wealth of objects. It will also examine the acquisition and sales agendas of both Massoneau and the museums in question to reveal the collector’s shrewd business sense and knowledge of the art market of the time. In the final discussion, the original find complexes of these objects – many of which have only be identified through modern archaeological research in the region – will be presented in order to illustrate not only the conspicuously high concentration of ancient sites in the north-eastern and eastern Black Sea region, but also the lively official and illicit activity that made the region a focus of collectors from around the world.


Dr Sujatha Chandrasekaran is an archaeologist specializing in sites of the Caucasus and the Near East. Her 2012 dissertation (University of Oxford) examined the phenomenon of Greek-style armour in the Western Caucasus. She was subsequently a research assistant and lecturer at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and at the International Hellenic University in Thessaloniki, Greece. She is currently research assistant and excavator with the Russian State Museum of Oriental Art, where she has been studying the sites of Southern Russia and Abkhazia for over 20 years. She is also a freelance associate with the Educational Department of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, where she works with the archaeological collections of the Museum Island. Sujatha also collaborates with excavation teams working in Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan, Sudan and Greece, and regularly shares her research findings in numerous publications in Russian, English and German.