Associate Professor Robert Wellington

PhD, University of Sydney
Associate Professor of Art History | Director, Centre for Art History and Theory
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

  • Louis XIV
  • Ancien règime France
  • French art, 1500-1900
  • Digital art history
  • Theories of history
  • The history of collecting
  • Antiquarianism
  • Material culture
  • Print culture
  • Images of war
  • Mapping
  • Cross-cultural exchange in the early-modern period
  • Transcultural aesthetics


Robert Wellington is Associate Professor of Art History and ARC DECRA Fellow (2018-22) in the Centre for Art History and Art Theory. He is an art historian with a special interest in the role of material culture in history making and cross-cultural exchange. His monograph, Antiquarianism and the visual histories of Louis XIV: Artifacts for a future past, was published by Ashgate in 2015, and is held in public and university libraries across the world. Robert is also engaged with digital methods for art historical research, and is lead CI on the ARC Discovery Project: Performing Transdisciplinarity, a digital transdisciplinary study of an eighteenth century songbook. Robert was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2021.


  • “What’s it worth? European Art at the Persian Court,” The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, November 2018.
  • Tanned by the Sun King: Donald Trump and Louis XIV,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 2018.
  • “Bernini and the King’s Forehead,” National Gallery of Australia, March 2017.
  • "Sun King to Moon King: Emulating the Grand Siècle in the 18th and 19th Centuries,"  The Françoise and Georges Selz Lectures on 18th- and 19th-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture, Bard Graduate Centre, NYC, January 2016.


  • Objects from elsewhere: Transcultural constructions of identity (co-convenor Alex Burchmore), College Art Association Annual Conference, Chicago, February 2020.
  • Global Histories of Art: crossing the modern/early modern divide (co-convener Mary Roberts) Clark Art Institute, June 2018.
  • Worlding Early Modern France, Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting, New Orleans, March 2018.
  • Full Circle: The Medal in Art History (co-conveners Melanie Vandenbrouck, Aimee Ng), The Frick Collection, September 2017.
  • Enchanted Isles, Fatal Shores: Living Versailles, (co-convener Mark Ledbury) NGA, March 2017.
  • Digital Approaches in the Study of Early Modern Culture, ANU; and Recasting the Question: Digital Approaches in Art history and Museums, USYD, November 2015 (co-convener Stephen Whiteman).

Researcher's projects

Antiquarianism and the Visual Histories of Louis XIV: Artifacts for a Future Past, single-author monograph (Ashgate, October 2015): This book presents a revisionary account of the role of antiquarianism in the production of visual histories of Louis XIV revealing the relationship between often neglected media and the defining monuments of the age. It aims to move beyond the standard Marxist account of the arts commissioned by the King as a means to instantiate absolutist ideology to present a study of the intellectual culture that inspired a vast program of images and objects that take the King’s history as their subject, positing the future historian as their intended audience.  

Travelling objects: Art and cultural diplomacy  (Ongoing): The study of prints and medals commissioned to commemorate history, art and science during the reign of Louis XIV (1638-1715), offer an intriguing opportunity to reassess the cultural (and cross-cultural) value of the prints and medals in the early-modern period. Louis XIV's prints and medals were distributed across the known world, throughout Europe and the East, to King Phra Narai of Siam (1633-1688), the Safavid Shah, Sultan Hussein of Persia (1668-1726), and the Chinese Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722). Mapping patterns of non-colonial cultural exchange between France, Britain, China and Persia during this period, this study will present a revised account of visual culture at the Sun King’s court to define its place within a global history of art.

Versailles Mirrored: The cultural capital of old regime France from Louis XIV to Donald Trump (Bloomsbury Academic, Forthcoming): Louis XIV is the paradigmatic monarch of the early-modern period. During his reign he was emulated by friends and enemies alike, who appropriated (and parodied) all aspects of the visual and material culture of his reign. This longue durée project explores the appropriations and transformations of the Sun King's image from the John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough in the early-eighteenth century to Ludwig II of Bavaria in the late nineteenth century.

Performing TransdisciplinarityThis Australian Research Council Discovery Project is a cross-institutional collaboration between ANU Glenn Roe and Robert Wellington), The University of Melbourne (Erin Helyard), The University of Sydney (Mark Ledbury), and Oxford University (Nicholas Cronk). It is the first study to specifically address the unique transdisciplinary nature of eighteenth-century print culture, the quintessential example of which is the illustrated songbook. In order to recreate the inherent performativity of these complex cultural objects, new models of cross-disciplinary collaboration and multimedia dissemination are required. This project provides one such model of methodological innovation: the team will explore the nexus of image, music, and text in an exemplary French songbook, reconceived as a multimedia digital interface for sharing and linking deep disciplinary knowledge and for the innovative recreation of the sounds, sensibilities, and social mores of late-eighteenth-century France.

Available student projects

Courses taught:

  • ARTH1006: Art and Design Histories: Form and Space
  • ARTH1007: Art and Design Histories: Making and Meaning
  • ARTH2080/6080 Art and Visual of the Long Eighteenth Century, 1660-1815
  • ARTH2081/6081 Art of the European Courts, 1500-1800
  • ARTH4018/8013 East-West Interactions in Art
  • ARTH4017/8012 Methodologies of Art History


Postgraduate supervision in the following areas:

  • French Art 1500-1900
  • Print Culture
  • History of Collecting
  • Antiquarianism and Numismatics
  • Cross-Cultural Exchange
  • Transcultural Aesthetics

Past student projects

Honours/Masters theses

  • Shanti Shea-An, At the Borderline: Interiority, Exteriority and the Threshold in Dutch Painting (Masters thesis) (2019)
  • Christina Clarke, Material Knowledge: Louis XIV’s Silver Furniture, 1666-1689 (Masters thesis) (2018/19)
  • Hugh Cullimore, The Ostrich and Egyptian Hieroglyphics in Early Modern Italy (hons thesis) (2017/18)
  • Emily Cunich, Madame de Pompadour as Patron (hons thesis) (2017/18)
  • Rebecca Blake, Delacroix’s Femmes d’Algiers (Masters thesis) (2017)
  • Shan Crosbie, Carnal Desires: Animal flesh as a sexual metaphor in the painting of Pieter Aertsen (hons thesis, H1) (2016)
  • Alysha Redston, Robert Rauschenberg and the Contemporary Avant-garde: Problematizing ‘Neo-Dada’ (hons thesis) (2015)
  • 2015 – Erin Vink, Reexamining the Franks Casket: Styles, Enigmas and the Emergence of Anglo-Saxon Identity (hons thesis) (2015)

PhD Supervision

  • Dr Alex Burchmore, Translating the Past: The Continuity of a Global History of Export in Contemporary Chinese Porcelain Art (Chair of Panel, ANU) (2016-18)
  • Dr Ella Morrison, Petr Herel: The Artists’ Book as Aberrant Object (Chair of Panel, ANU) (2015-18)


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  24 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers