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Professor Paul Smith


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.

Research interests

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. Particular interests include: Baudelaire, Manet, Impressionism, Seurat, Cézanne, and stories about art. His work also aims to apply aspects of aesthetic theory (Adrian Stokes's and Richard Wollheim's especially), phenomenology, Wittgenstein's thinking, and neuroscience to the explanation of pictures.

He welcomes applications from students interested in researching C19th French art and art theory. In the past he has supervised PhDs on Baudelaire and Cézanne, and is presently supervising a PhD on Georges Petit.

Selected publications

  • ‘Vermilion, or why Cézanne took the shine off things’, Word & Image, vol. 26, no. 1 (2020), 64-79.
  • ‘“The Most Beautiful Blue”: Painting, Science, and the Perception of Coloured Shadows’, The British Journal of Aesthetics,vol. 54, no. 4 (October 2018), 401-21.
  • ‘Victorine’s Secret: Baudelaire and the Ambiguity of Commodities’, in André Dombrowski and Hollis Clayson (eds.), Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century? (Oxford: Routledge/Ashgate, 2016), 74-93

View more publications

See his page

Collaborations and projects


Tel: +44 (0)24 7652 3005

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University of Warwick
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