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Professor Paul Smith


Tel: 024 7652 3005


Millburn House
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7HS


Professor Smith came to Warwick in 2005. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, a visiting scholar and a scholar at the Getty Research Institute. Paul studied for his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art under the supervision of Robert Ratcliffe, the eminent but obscure Cézanne scholar. Before that, he took his undergraduate degree at University College London, where he was taught aesthetics by the philosopher, Richard Wollheim. Both have had a lasting influence on his research.

Paul works mostly on later nineteenth-century French painting, and the theories that help explain it. He is also interested in the literature of the period, particularly recherché novels about art.

He welcomes applications from students interested in researching any of the above areas. In the past he has supervised PhDs on Baudelaire, Barnett Newman, and Phenomenological Explanations of C20th Art, and he has just finished co-supervising a PhD on what conservation methods can tell us about Cézanne's work.

Research interests

Nineteenth-century French painting, art theory, criticism, and literature, especially Baudelaire, Manet, Impressionism, Seurat, Cézanne, and stories about art. Wittgenstein's aesthetics, and the writings of Adrian Stokes and Richard Wollheim. Art, phenomenology, neuroscience, and the relation between art and language. Colour.

Teaching and supervision

Modules taught include:

  • Landscape
  • Art and Visual Perception;
  • Modern art and Modernism
  • Methods of Art HIstory
  • Colour and its Meanings

Administrative roles

  • Undergraduate Examinations Co-ordinator
  • formerly Director of Research, Head of Department

Selected publications

  • ‘Cézanne’s Colour Lab: (not-so-) still life’, in The World is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne, ed. Benedict Leca (Hamilton, Ontario and Giles, London: Art Gallery of Hamilton, 2014), 92-144.
  • ‘“Between a Thing and a Thought”: Syntax, Twofoldness, and the Wisdom of the Ancients’, Word & Image, vol. 29, no. 3 (July–September 2013), 304-33.
  • 'Cézanne’s ‘Primitive’ Perspective, or the ‘View from Everywhere’, The Art Bulletin, 95/1 (March 2013), 102-19.
  • 'Pictorial Grammar: Chomsky, John Willats, and the rules of representation', Art History, 342 (June 2011), 563-93. Uncorrected proof.
  • Seurat Re-Viewed: an anthology of recent and new texts on Seurat (Penn State, 2010). Includes an Introduction, and an essay: '"Souls of Glass": Seurat and the Ethics of Timeless Experience'.
  • The Substance and the Shadow: an annotated edition in translation of a novel published in 1878 by Zola’s friend, Marius Roux, whose central character is modelled on Cézanne (Penn State, 2007). Includes an Introduction and extensive notes.
  • '"Real Primitives"; Cézanne, Wittgenstein, and the Nature of Aesthetic Quality', in J. Harris (ed.), Value, Art, Politics (Liverpool University Press, 2007).
  • 'Cézanne's Primitive Self and Related Fictions', in C. Salas (ed)., The Life and the Work: Art and Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • Guest Editor, Special Issue of French Studies, vol. 61, no. 1, January 2007, The Nineteenth-Century Art Novel. Contains an introductory essay: ‘Literature and Art’, 1-13.
  • 'Cézanne Late Landscape, or the Prospect of Death'/'Les paysages tardifs de Cézanne ou la perspective de la mort', in P. Conisbee and D. Coutagne (eds.), Cézanne in Provence (National Gallery of Art Washington/Musée Granet, 2006).

View more publications

See his page


  • BA; PhD (London)

Advice and Feedback hours

My hours in week 9 wil be Tuesday 11.00-1.00.

Please sign up for a meeting on the sheet which is always posted outside my office.


Undergraduate modules

HA3C2 Colour and its Meaning