Dr Robert Wellington

PhD, University of Sydney
Lecturer, 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 an art historian with a special interest in the role of material culture in history making and cross-cultural exchange. Prior to receiving a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Sydney, he has ten years experience in various roles in the contemporary arts sector. Robert was the inaugural convenor of the ANU French Research Cluster, and is currently the ACT representative of the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ).


  • "Antiquarianism and the Visual Histories of Louis XIV," Staatliche Münzsammlung, Munich, September 2016.
  • "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.
  • "A War of Visual Histories: British appropriations of French triumphal imagery at Marlborough House," Yale Center for British Art, January 2014.


  • Enchanted Isles, Fatal Shores: Living Versailles, (co-convener Mark Ledbury) NGA, March 2017. http://nga.gov.au/Symposia/Versailles/
  • Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) Conference Committee member, The Work of Art, Canberra, December 2016.
  • Versailles in the World, 1660–1789 (co-convenors Meredith Martin, NYU, and Jeffrey Collins, Bard Graduate Centre, NY) NYU and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 2016. http://versaillesintheworld.com
  • Image, Space and Body in Early-Modern Art and Design (co-convener Petra Kayser), AAANZ Annual conference, Brisbane, November 2015.
  • 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).
  • Gallipoli/Gelibolu (co-convenor Mary Roberts and Andrew Yip), AGNSW, May 2015.
  • Mobilizing ideas in the long eighteenth century (co-convener Stephen H. Whiteman), DNS, Sydney, December 2014.

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.  

Prints, medals and global exchange with the Court of Louis XIV  (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.

Louis after Louis: Appropriations and reinventions of the Louis XIV style from the 18th to the 21st century (Ongoing): 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

Current student projects

Alex Burchmore, Phd candidate, 2016-present.

Ella Morrison, Contemporary Australian artist book practice: the work and teaching of Petr Herel, PhD candidate, 2015-present.

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Updated:  20 February 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers