Catriona Murray profile picture

Job title:

Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Visual and Material Cultures


On Research Leave


O.50, Hunter Building


Catriona Murray is a historian of early modern British visual and material culture. Her research focuses on the intersections of art and propaganda during the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In particular, she is interested in the exchanges between ruler and subject, exploring how images of authority were promoted and received. 

Her first monograph, Imaging Stuart Family Politics: Dynastic Crisis and Continuity (2016), explores the promotion of familial propaganda under the Stuarts. Bringing together royal ritual, court portraiture and popular prints, it argues that dynastic and domestic representations were strategically developed to endorse political agendas. Imaging Stuart Family Politics was awarded the 2017 Royal Studies Journal Book Prize. In January 2020, Catriona took up a Paul Mellon Mid-Career Fellowship to develop a new research programme. This project considers the Stuarts’ involved relationship with the monumental image, analysing how sculpture served to mediate royal authority, public loyalty and political opposition. In January 2023, she was awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh Personal Fellowship to support the completion of her second monograph, Figuring Stuart Monarchy: Monumental Sculpture and the Royal Image, 1603-1819. Catriona has published widely on topics from seventeenth-century funeral effigies to nineteenth-century historiography.

Catriona joined the department as Lecturer in 2015. Originally from Aberdeen, she moved to Edinburgh to study for the MA in Fine Art, before pursuing a Masters and PhD in History of Art. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Institute of Historical Research (University of London); the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (University of Edinburgh); the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art; the Royal Society of Edinburgh; the Henry Moore Foundation; the Huntington Library and Art Museum; Funds for Women Graduates and the AHRC. Catriona has developed close working relationships and collaborations with a number of UK museums and galleries and is currently academic advisor to the National Galleries of Scotland's research project on King James VI and I. She is also co-investigator on John Michael Wright and the Art of Invention. Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, this collaborative research project, also with the National Galleries of Scotland, adopts a new perspective on this remarkable artist, analysing the complex political, religious and cultural networks in which he operated under the later Stuarts. Catriona is a founding member of the Material Culture in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Research Cluster, which hosts seminars, conferences and special events throughout the year.

Research interests

  • Early Modern Visual and Material Culture
  • Public Sculpture
  • History and Memory
  • Dynasty, Family and Kin Networks
  • Ceremony, Ritual and Performance


Catriona’s teaching is directly influenced by her research and introduces students to key issues in the relationships between art, politics and society in sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain.

Her third-year special options course, Picturing Authority: Art and Politics at the Tudor and Stuart Courts, explores the visual representation of power through close study of royal portraiture, decorative schemes, public statuary, printed ephemera and court spectacle.

Her fourth-year special options course, Cradle to Grave: Art and Society in Britain from Holbein to Hogarth, examines the representation of gender, the life cycle, religion, status and nationality across a range of media, assessing how early modern men and women defined their social relationships and fashioned their identities.

She also lectures on Northern Renaissance and Baroque art for History of Art 1 and contributes to the department’s team-taught Honours and MSc courses.


Research Interests: 

Visual and material culture in sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain

Art and propaganda

Scoto- and Anglo-European relations

Artistic patronage, collaboration and process

Ceremony, ritual and performance

Death, commemoration and memory

Dynasty, family and kin networks

Current PhD students

Molly Ailsa Ingham

The Elect and the Damned: the material culture of belief in post-Reformation Scotland, 1560-1750

Charlie Spragg

King James VI & I as the Author of Display

Helen Wyld

Textiles at the Court of King Charles I

PhD Supervision Topics

  • Art and politics at the Tudor and Stuart courts
  • Sixteenth-, seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century visual and material culture in Britain
  • Scoto- and Anglo-European relations
  • Early modern art and identity, dynasty and family, death and memory

Related programmes