Siân Walters, MA (Cantab)


Siân Walters is the director of Art History in Focus. She is a highly qualified art historian and lectures for the National Gallery, The Arts Society, The Wallace Collection, Friends of the Royal Academy, The London Art History Society, The Art Fund and many other art societies and colleges in the UK and Europe. She was also a lecturer at Surrey University for many years. Having graduated from Cambridge University, Siân spent four years in Italy and France where she worked for the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the eminent scholar H.C. Robbins Landon.  As well as running Art History in Focus, she spends much of the year lecturing abroad, particularly in Italy and Spain, and is well known for her enthusiastic, structured yet informal approach. Siân is delighted to have been nominated by an independent travel company in 2008 and 2009 for the Daily Telegraph’s Best Guide Award. In 2016 she was named a Highly Commended finalist in the Wanderlust World’s Best Guide Awards. 

Siân was honoured to be asked to teach the first ever online course for The National Gallery (Stories of Art) in September 2020 as well as the first online course given by The Wallace Collection in July 2020. She also gave the first Zoom lecture for The Arts Society in March 2020..

Siân’s specialist areas are 15th and 16th century Italian painting, Spanish Art and Architecture, Flemish and Dutch painting and the relationship between Dance and Art (she is an honorary advisor to the Nonsuch Historical Dance Society). She has given many lectures on this subject for the National Gallery, including a number of events in conjunction with the gallery's “Renaissance Siena”, “Sacred Made Real”, and “Canaletto and his Rivals” exhibitions. A special lecture in conjunction with the recent Leonardo da Vinci exhibition was also recently commissioned by the gallery, as one of a small number of Friday evening talks given talks by Leonardo specialists and academics.

In 2013 Siân was asked to represent the National Gallery at the international Hay Festival where she gave a number of presentations on the gallery’s recent Titian acquisitions. In 2018 she was invited to be guest lecturer on the inaugural BRAVO Cruise of Performing Arts UK alongside Katherine Jenkins, Julian Lloyd Webber and Ruthie Henshall.

Siân studied music as well as art history: she was awarded a choral exhibition at Cambridge University and a 1st for her dissertation on the paintings of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, and has appeared in a film about Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. She often arranges art tours which have a musical element, such as an evening at the opera, tickets to a concert or a visit focusing on the musical heritage of a city. In 2007 Sian was invited to give the prestigious annual T Rowland Hughes Lecture at the University of Wales, which in recent years has been given by leading figures in the art world such as Neil Macgregor, Sir Roy Strong and Sir Kyffin Williams.

Siân ran a series of free, live lectures during lockdown in 2020. These can still be viewed online for free at any time - just click here

Guest Lecturers

Dr Xavier Bray, director of The Wallace Collection, leading a tour for Art History in Focus

Art History in Focus also draws on the knowledge and expertise of a number of distinguished guest and visiting lecturers, as well as curators and academics who often join us for study days and tours. Here are a few of the lecturers who have worked with us recently or who will be doing so soon:

Jacqui Ansell

Jacqui Ansell studied at the Courtauld Institute, specialising in the history of costume. Since 1992 Jacqui has used this wider knowledge of cultural history to tutor and write for the Open University and she also lectures for the National Gallery and Christie’s, tutoring undergraduates in the fine and decorative arts.

Dr Xavier Bray

Dr. Xavier Bray was Assistant Curator of 17th and 18th Century European paintings at the National Gallery, chief curator at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and is now the director of the Wallace Collection. In 2009 he curated the exhibition The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700 which received unanimous praise for its profound and sensitive examination of a subject which was previously unfamiliar to British audiences.

Sandy Burnett

Sandy is one of the UK’s most authoritative broadcasters in the field of classical music and worked for BBC Radio 3 for over ten years. His many credits include the flagship breakfast programme Morning on 3, live Proms, concerts from the Edinburgh International Festival as well as countless studio broadcasts and interviews with classical music’s top artists.

Marco Caratelli

Marco is a well-known artist living in Siena, just a few steps away from the famous Cathedral and Museo dell’Opera. He specialises in replicating the work of the great Sienese painters of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance such as Duccio and Simone Martini.

Martin Clayton

Martin Clayton is Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Collection, and curator of 'Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist' which took place at the Queen's Gallery in 2012

Sarah Dunant

Sarah Dunant is a writer, broadcaster and critic. She has written twelve novels, four of which have been short listed for awards, three screen plays and edited two books of essays. Her most recent novels, set within the Italian Renaissance, weave cutting edge historical scholarship into fast moving popular fiction. They have been best sellers in Britain and America and have been translated into thirty languages

Andrew Graham Dixon

Andrew Graham-Dixon is one of the leading art critics and presenters of arts television in the English-speaking world. He has presented numerous landmark series on art for the BBC, including the acclaimed A History of British Art, Renaissance and Art of Eternity, as well as numerous individual documentaries on art and artists. For more than twenty years he has published a weekly column on art, first in the Independent and, more recently, in the Sunday Telegraph. He has also written a number of acclaimed books, on subjects ranging from medieval painting and sculpture to the art of the present.

Dr Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan graduated with a PhD in history from Oxford University and has for many years worked as an independent historian and guide. He has written a number of London guidebooks, amongst other publications, and leads regular walking tours in the capital as well as further afield. An expert on the cities of Verona and Bologna, Andrew has tailor-made a number of city and country walks for Art History in Focus Tours.

Livia Galante

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the University of Rome "La Sapienza," and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic in sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with guests coming from abroad

Dr Elena Greer

Elena Greer has worked as Assistant Curator of Renaissance paintings and Author at the National Gallery, specialising in early Italian and German Renaissance painting. She has also worked in the curatorial departments of the British Museum, the Royal Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the political, economic and art-historical context of the National Gallery's collection and policies at the end of the nineteenth century and has published widely on Italian painting and the history of collecting.

Professor Deborah Howard

Deborah Howard is Professor of Architectural History in the Faculty of Architecture and a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. Her principal research interests are the art and architecture of Venice and the Veneto; the relationship between Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean, and music and architecture in the Renaissance. A recent examination of this subject, Sound and Space in Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Music, Acoustics, was published by Yale University Press in 2009. Deborah was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2010.

Jonathan Keates

Mr Keates is an eminent author whose works include biographies of Handel and Purcell and The Siege of Venice. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Trustee of the London Library and President of Venice in Peril.

Ross King

Ross King is a bestselling author whose publications include Brunelleschi’s Dome (2000), Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling (2002), The Judgment of Paris (Governor General’s Award, 2006), and Leonardo and The Last Supper (Governor General’s Award, 2012). He has also published two novels (Domino and Ex-Libris), a biography of Niccolò Machiavelli, and a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s fables, jokes and riddles. He is the co-author of Florence: The Paintings & Frescoes, 1250-1743 (2015) and his most recent publication 

The Bookseller of Florence (2021) has also received outstanding reviews.

Suzannah Lipscomb

Dr Suzannah Lipscomb is a historian, author, broadcaster and award-winning academic. She is Senior Lecturer and Convenor for History at New College of the Humanities

Helen Little

Helen is the Assistant Curator of Modern British Art at Tate Britain and has worked on a number of exhibitions including Picasso and Modern British Art.

Christopher Marinello

Christopher Marinello is a lawyer and the CEO and founder of CEO Art Recovery International LLC. As one of the world’s foremost experts in recovering stolen, looted, and missing works of art and has become uniquely proficient in negotiating complex title disputes between collectors, dealers, museums and insurance companies. He has been involved in several of the best-known restitution cases on behalf of foreign governments and heirs of Holocaust victims to recover stolen artwork and cultural property.  Chris successfully recovered the first work of art (Matisse's Femme Assise) to be restituted from the infamous Gurlitt hoard and was responsible for the recovery by the heirs of Parisian art dealer Paul Rosenberg of several Nazi-looted artworks held in Museums and private collections

Dr Antonio Mazzotta

Dr Antonio Mazzotta is an art historian based in Milan, where he was born. He studied Art History at the University of Milan and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and he is currently lecturer at the University of Milan. He worked as Curatorial Assistant at the National Gallery in 2008-2010, where he curated the exhibition Titian’s First Masterpiece: The Flight Into Egypt (2012). In 2018-2019 he curated an exhibition at the Castello Sforzesco (Milan) on the origins of the iconography of Michelangelo's Pietà (Vesperbild: Alle origini delle Pietà di Michelangelo). Antonio’s main research topics are Venetian and Lombard art of the Renaissance, and the history of collecting

Leslie Miller

Lesley Miller is Senior Curator of Textiles and Fashion at the V&A and Professor of Dress and Textile History at the University of Glasgow. She has led the curatorial team on the reinterpretation of the V&A's Europe 1600-1815 Galleries at the museum over the last five years. She has taught History of Design for over 20 years, specialising in tradition and innovation in the European fashion and textiles trades of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Jane da Mosto

Jane is an environmental scientist and international consultant on sustainable development. Since 2001, she has been working with Venice in Peril and Cambridge University to develop an independent platform for examining scientific information concerning the current state and future of Venice. In 2004 she published The Science of Saving Venice

Philip Mould

Philip Mould O.B.E. is one of the country's foremost authorities on British art. An art dealer, writer and broadcaster, he is perhaps best known for his regular appearances on Antiques Roadshow and for his hit BBC television programme Fake or Fortune?, co-presented with Fiona Bruce, which has uncovered a number of lost masterpieces. He has published two books on art discovery Sleepers: In Search Of Lost Old Masters and Sleuth: The Amazing Quest for Lost Art Treasures and is the director of Philip Mould & Co, a gallery specialising in British art and Old Masters.

Dr Cetty Muscolini

Dr Muscolini is an eminent art historian and author, and the Director of the Museo Nazionale di Ravenna.

Dr Duncan Philips

Dr Duncan Philips is a Chartered Building Surveyor and one of the leading experts in the field of building conservation with over 30 years experience. He is author of 'The Essential Guide to Buying and Owning a Listed Building' and lectures regularly on building conservation and architectural history topics. He is a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and is on the RICS Building Conservation Board

Leslie Primo

Leslie Primo studied at Birkbeck College and is a highly popular lecturer and tutor at the National Gallery, Reading University, the National Portrait Gallery and the City Literary and Bishopsgate Institutes in London, specialising in early Medieval and Renaissance art.

Sarah Quill

Sarah Quill, a trustee of the Venice in Peril Fund, has worked for many years in Venice, building up a photographic record of the city’s architecture, sculpture and daily life. Her book Ruskin’s Venice: The Stones Revisited (2000) was re-published in a new edition in 2015

Vernon Rapley

Vernon Rapley is now the Director of Cultural Heritage Protection & Security at the V&A Museum in London and was for many years the Head of the Art & Antiques Unit at Scotland Yard. During that time Detective Sergeant Rapley investigated all manner of art and cultural property crime and managed to recover an incredible 60% of reported stolen art, making him one of the most successful art detectives in history. He was also responsible for the arrest of a number of famous forgers such as John Myatt and the famous Greenhalgh family.  Vernon is also Special Advisor for the UK Government’s Cultural Heritage Protection Fund, the founder and chairman of the National Museum Security Group and Chairman of the Security of Major Museums Europe Group.

Luisella Romeo

Luisella is one of Venice’s most experienced and well-known guides and co-founder of The Best Venice Guides Project. “Venice is the city where my family comes from, where I studied and where I live, not just where I work. I consider my job a true privilege. To show Venice is not just a way to be immersed in incredible history and art heritage, it is also a responsibility. What fascinates me especially is the possibility of intertwining the narration of Venice and its past with its present time”. Art History in Focus is delighted to be collaborating with Luisella on a new concept - virtual Venetian travel - working with major art museums in order to create live online cultural tours using the latest technologies.

Guy Rooker

Guy Rooker is an orthopaedic surgeon and well-known Nadfas lecturer with a special interest in the relationship between art and anatomy, and the remarkable contribution made to our understanding of the subject by Leonardo da Vinci.

Patrick O'Sullivan

Patrick O'Sullivan is Head of Art Handling at the National Gallery, where he has worked since 2005.

Peter Schade

Peter Schade is Head of Framing at the National Gallery in London. Few of the National Gallery's paintings still retain their original frames but Peter Schade has spent many years sourcing, creating, carving and adapting examples which complement the paintings historically. Recent projects have included the creation of a spectatular new frame for Sebastiano del Piombo's Raising of Lazarus, and six matching frames for the Titian: Love Desire Death exhibition in 2020.

Dr Jennifer Sliwka

Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at King's College London, Dr Sliwka was formerly the Ahmanson Curator at the National Gallery. Her recent exhibitions have included Monochrome: Painting in Black and White and Visions of Paradise which featured new research on Botticini's Palmieri altarpiece and other paintings made for the Florentine church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence.

Dr Richard Stemp

Richard Stemp has worked as a lecturer at the National Gallery, Tates Modern and Britain, Buckingham Palace and the Wallace Collection in London, and across Europe with Art History Abroad. His books include The Secret Language of the Renaissance and a follow-up on Churches and Cathedrals, and he has written and presented two series for Channel 4 Television, Art in the National Gallery and Tate Modern.

David Taylor

David Taylor has been Curator of Paintings and Sculpture for the National Trust since 2012. He is an expert on 16th and 17th century portraiture and was previously Senior Curator with the National Galleries of Scotland.

David Wertheim

David Wertheim is one of the world's leading experts on Japanese prints, and director of the Japanese Gallery in London.

Colin Wiggins

An art historian and artist, Colin was Head of Education at the National Gallery for many years and then Special Projects Curator, inviting leading contemporary artists such as Peter Blake, Paula Rego, Anthony Caro and Bridget Riley to collaborate with the gallery and take up residencies at the museum. He has curated exhibitions by these and many other artists and is currently working on a project with Paula Rego. Colin is also a practicing printmaker, with work in various collections including the Los Angeles County Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Siân is not just a lecturer, she is a true enthusiast and obviously loves paintings, sculpture, architecture and history. Her passion for her subjects enthused us all.”

Mr Linton Rainbow

Read more testimonials and comments

Become a Friend of AHF

Enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including prize draws, special events and priority booking

More Info

Loyalty Scheme

Enjoy a gift selection of fine wines for every 4 tours you book with us

More Info

ahf on facebook

Discuss AHF events online and get to know other members

More Info