Elizabeth McFadden - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Elizabeth McFadden

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Elizabeth McFadden

Samuel H. Kress Pre-Doctoral Institutional Fellow, 2016-2018

My thesis examines the social implications and semantic properties of fur clothing in early modern England and the Netherlands. Looking specifically at the depiction of urban professionals in London and Amsterdam at politically and socially critical points in these cities’ histories, I explore the important role fur played in actively remaking the image of the middle-class subject. I investigate how the mercantile classes utilized fur as a material symbol of their internationalism and connection to a global market in the midst of an emergent urban lexicon centered around changing ideas of dignitas, gravitas, authority, and luxury.


  • PhD University of California, Berkeley (History of Art)
  • MA The Courtauld Institute of Art 2010 (Print Culture and the Early Modern Arts)
  • AB Hood College 2009 (History of Art & English)

Professional experience

  • Victoria & Albert Museum Research Volunteer for exhibition “Fashion and Nature” (2016)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York (2015-2016)
  • Graduate Student Curator of “The Papyrus in the Crocodile: 150 Years of Exploration, Excavation, Collection, and Stewardship at Berkeley” (May 4-July 29, 2016)
  • Instructor for “Reading and Writing about Art: Writing about and Critiquing Fashion Today,” UC Berkeley (self-designed course, 2015)
  • Graduate Mentor in SMART Program, UC Berkeley (2015)
  • Instructor for “Reading and Writing about Art: Early Modern Dress and Fashion,” UC Berkeley (self-designed course, 2014)
  • Teaching Assistant for “Introduction to Renaissance Art: Transcultural Currents: Italy and the Mediterranean World, 1300-1600”, UC Berkeley (2014)
  • Teaching Assistant for “Elizabethan Renaissance: Art, Culture and Visuality”, UC Berkeley (2012)

Fellowships and honours

  • 2015-2016 Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology
  • 2015 SMART Graduate Mentor Award, UC, Berkeley
  • 2009-2010 Lord Rothschild Scholarship, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2009-2010 The Friends of The Courtauld Grant
  • 2009 Suzanne Gottert Prize in Art, Hood College
  • 2008 Janice E. Cole Writing Prize 1st place, Hood College

Research interests

Early modern dress, material culture, fashion theory, fur trade, luxury, Marie Antoinette in film


  • The 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo
    Paper Title: “Beaver Fur in the Early Modern Netherlands”
  • The Papyrus in the Crocodile: 150 Years of Exploration, Excavation, Collection, and Stewardship at Berkeley, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Initiative Symposium, UC Berkeley
    Paper Title: “The Memory and Afterlife of Dragon Robes: Women Collectors, Phoebe A. Hearst, and the Collecting of Chinese Textiles at the Turn-of-the-Twentieth Century”
  • Textual Fashion, University of Brighton
    Paper Title: “Dressing Up Allegory: Tracing the Jak and High-Burgher Ideals in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Costume and Genre Scenes”
  • Critical Costume 2015 Conference and Exhibition, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki
    Paper Title: “The Ghosts of Versailles: Fashion, Transhistoricity, and the Preservation of a Memory in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette
  • Mobilities and Materialities in the Early Modern World Working Group, UC Berkeley
    Paper Title: “The Felt Hat in Rubens’s Le Chapeau de Paille and the Rhetoric of Marriage”
  • Identities in the Making: Dutch Colonialisms and Postcolonial Presents, Dutch Studies Graduate Conference, UC Berkeley
    Paper Title: “The Merchant’s Hat: Beaver Fur in Early Modern England and Holland”
  • (Un)dressing  Rubens: Fashion and Painting in Seventeenth-Century Antwerp, Rubenianum, Antwerp
    Paper Title: “Rubens and the Materiality of Fur in Het Pelsken

Recent publications

  • Rutgers Art Review, Vol. 30, 2014
    Paper Title: “Food, Alchemy, and Transformation in Jan Brueghel’s The Allegory of Taste

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