Susan Owens is an art historian and curator. She is the author of 'Spirit of Place: Artists, Writers and the British Landscape' (Thames & Hudson), ‘The Ghost: A Cultural History’ (Tate Publishing) and co-author of ‘Christina Rossetti: Poetry in Art’ (Yale University Press)

The British artists who saw a world on their doorsteps

Landscape painting went local in 19th-century Britain, writes Susan Owens, as artists celebrated the miniature marvels they found close to home

7 Feb 2021
Nekyia scene (detail of the ghosts of Agamemnon and Tiresias), 325–300 BC, Tomb of Orcus II, Tarquinia.

That’s the spirit – how the Romans imagined the dead

The various ways in which the ancient Romans depicted figures from the afterlife tell us much about contemporary preoccupations

5 Jun 2020
Photograph taken at Balmoral in 1893/94 by Charles Albert Wilson. Ethel Cadogan, Lord William Cecil and Dr Alexander Profeit re-enact a scene from Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott in which Rebecca and a page kneel over Ivanhoe. Royal Collection Trust/© HM Queen Elizabeth II 2020

Making a scene – how the Victorians brought the past to life

Recreating scenes from famous paintings has been all the rage of lockdown, but it’s the Victorians who first played make-believe in earnest

7 May 2020
In the Bezestein, El Khan Khalil, Cairo (1860), John Frederick Lewis. Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

Cairene conversions – the adopted identities of John Frederick Lewis

The Victorian painter certainly had a penchant for play-acting, but his depictions of Egypt remain something of an enigma

2 Oct 2019