Frances has a joint post with the University of Edinburgh and the National Galleries of Scotland. She has curated numerous international exhibitions and her main area of specialism is French and Scottish nineteenth-century art, with an emphasis on collecting, the art market, national identity, cultural revival and artistic networks.
Frances is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Senior Trustee of the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, Chair of the Hospitalfield Trust and a Patron of Paisley Museum Reimagined. She is on the Scholarly Advisory Board of the RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) and also of the Van Gogh Worldwide project, a digital platform for all works by Vincent Van Gogh. She is a Group Leader for Art UK and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History. She was Chair of the Association for Art History from 2019-2023 and is a co-founder and former Board member of the International Art Market Studies Association (TIAMSA), 2017-2022. She was the 2022 Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow.
Frances began her career working for Sotheby's auctioneers and, briefly, as an arts journalist. She gained her PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1994 and has taught at the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and at Edinburgh College of Art. She worked in the curatorial department at Tate Britain before joining the National Galleries of Scotland in 2001. She was appointed to her current post in 2005.
Current and future projects
Frances is co-curator of Lavery on Location, a partnership with the National Gallery of Art, Dublin, the Ulster Museum, Belfast and the National Galleries of Scotland (opens in Dublin on 6 October 2023).
She is guest curator of Discovering Degas, which will take place at the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, 24 May - 30 September 2024.
She is co-editor (with MaryKate Cleary) of The Art Market and the Museum: Institutional Collecting, Display and Patronage since the mid-nineteenth century, to be published by Bloomsbury in their Contextualizing Art Markets series.
Frances is lead editor of a four-volume anthology of primary sources on Scottish Art in the Industrial Age, c.1800-1914, commissioned by Routledge for their Historical Resources series.
Frances is co-author (with Michael Clarke) of a major critical catalogue,French Paintings 1500-1900 in the National Galleries of Scotland, published in April 2023.
In 2022 Frances curated the National Galleries of Scotland's main summer exhibition,A Taste for Impressionism: Modern French Art from Millet to Matisse at the Royal Scottish Academy. The accompanying book,The Impressionist Era: The Story of Scotland's French Masterpieceswas published in October 2021.
Frances is the author ofVan Gogh's Twin: the Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid (1854-1928) (2010),Impressionism and Scotland (2008) and Monet and French Landscape: Vétheuil and Normandy (2006). More recently she produced two edited publications: The Idea of North: Myth-Making and Identities (with Marja Lahelma), 2019, and Nordic Artists' Colonies 1870-1920, a special edition of Art in Translation (Taylor & Francis), 2 vols, June and December 2017.
Frances has curated numerous major international exhibitions, most recently Pin-Ups: Toulouse-Lautrec and the Art of Celebrity (National Galleries of Scotland, 2018-19). Others include Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape (Taft Museum, Cincinnati, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2016-17); Celts: Art and Identity (British Museum and National Museums of Scotland, 2015-16 - catalogue shortlisted for the Current Archaeology Book of the Year 2017); American Impressionism: A New Vision 1880-1900 (Giverny, Edinburgh, Madrid 2014-2015), which received $600,000 in sponsorship from the Terra Foundation for American Art; Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880-1910 (Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Helsinki 2012-13); Impressionism and Scotland (2008); Van Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors(2006); Gauguin's Vision (2005); Patrick Geddes: the French Connection (2004).
French, British nineteenth-century art; Collecting and Art Market; Networks and Artists' Colonies; Celtic Revival and northern identity; American Gilded Age.
History of Art Collecting and Art Market Research Cluster
Frances is leader of the History of Art Collecting and Art Market Research Cluster.