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Dr Allison Deutsch

  • Overview



    Dr Allison Deutsch graduated from Williams College with a BA in Art History in 2011, and completed her PhD at University College London in 2016. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century French painting and material culture.

    Dr Deutsch joined the Birkbeck Department of History of Art in 2020 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. Prior to joining Birkbeck, she was an Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art and a Teaching Fellow at University College London.

    Her first book, Consuming Painting: Food and the Feminine in Impressionist Paris (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2021), examines the culinary metaphors that the most influential nineteenth-century critics used to express their attraction or disgust toward modern-life painting. In some of the best known critical texts of the period, writers posed viewing as analogous to ingestion and used comparison to food to characterise the appearance of paint, to describe the painter’s process, and to report on represented figures. The migrating language of food and consumption reveals the visceral reactions that these paintings invited in their earliest publics, offering new histories for familiar artworks and fresh possibilities for experiencing and interpreting them.

    Dr Deutsch’s Leverhulme-funded project is entitled ‘Impressionism at the Margins: Colonialism and the Critical Reception’. This research traces a colonial imaginary through which many writers expressed anxiety about French impressionism.


    • Dr Deutsch's first book, Consuming Painting: Food and the Feminine in Impressionist Paris, is out 1 March 2021 with The Pennsylvania State University Press.


    • PhD, University College London, 2016
    • MA, University College London, 2012
    • BA, Williams College, 2011

    Web profiles

    Honours and awards

    • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship , The Leverhulme Trust , November 2019
    • Endorsed as a Person of Exceptional Promise in the field of History of Art , The British Academy, November 2018
    • Junior Research Fellowship , The Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, November 2017
    • Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Postgraduate Prize, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes , November 2016


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Nineteenth-century French painting and material culture
    • Feminist methodologies
    • Sensory studies
    • Culinary history

    Research overview

    Dr Allison Deutsch is a specialist in nineteenth-century French painting and material culture. Her current research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, addresses a colonial imaginary through which many nineteenth-century writers expressed anxiety about French impressionism.

    French impressionism has been associated with a particular vision of white middle-class life in and around Paris that avoids references to the wider world. And yet, anxieties about racial and cultural alterity were heavily embedded in its reception. The issues at stake for critics—of colour and legibility, training and tradition, centres and margins—were framed in the context of population shifts, immigration, and imperialism that shaped them. As supporters struggled to claim the movement as part of French heritage, commensurate with French values and taste—or even more so, when derogatory commentators worked to eject impressionism from any such arenas—they drew on categories, methods, and metaphors from debates about diversity and expansion. Issues addressed in Deutsch’s research include the racialisation of impressionist skin colour and the impressionist palette in general, the ways that colonial contagion and ‘degeneration’ became models for explaining the dangers impressionist works posed to viewers, and how artists and their paintings were associated with ‘savagery’ and colonial madness.


    Dr Deutsch is also publishing in the areas of French art, literature, and the Paris Commune; the multi-sensory reception of art; and the sexual politics of paintings of food and dining.


  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching



    Teaching modules

    • Art and Society in the Nineteenth Century (AHVM010S5)
    • Doing Art History (ARVC206S4)
    • Frameworks: Histories and Theories of Art, Architecture, Photography (ARVC247S7)
    • Impressionism Now (ARVC286S7)
  • Publications