Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Emeritus Professor Helen Weston

16 April 2019

Former Head of Department of History of Art, Professor Helen Weston, passes away

Emeritus Professor Weston

It is with great sadness we share that Emeritus Professor Helen Weston passed away on Saturday 30 March 2019, after a long illness. Helen joined the History of Art Department at UCL in 1968, shortly after it was founded. She spent almost her whole career in the Department, where she was a lecturer and professor, before becoming Head of Department in 1999. Helen retired from UCL in 2007.

A distinguished scholar of French art of the 18th and 19th centuries, Helen was the author of a number of important works in the field. Her research was primarily concerned with the work of women artists and the representation of women within this period.

Helen’s friend and former colleague, Professor David Bindman, has said: “Helen had not the slightest degree of scholarly vanity or competitiveness, and it was in her support of the talents and careers of others that she especially made her mark, with many of her PhD students going on to academic posts themselves. She was equally supportive of male and female students alike, but for women students she was a particular role model in the way she conducted her own career and in her approach to her chosen fields of expertise.”

Professor Weston’s former PhD student, Dr Richard Taws, who now teaches in UCL’s History of Art Department, shares his fond experience of working with Helen: “her precise and elegant writing, her sense of political purpose, her ability to ask the right questions, and her willingness to think beyond conventional categories of art, were inspirational and continue to be so. Helen’s patient visual attention and strong sense of principle always shone through in her teaching, but she was also funny and wise, and she had a wonderful ability to make us see her material afresh.”

Dr Richard Taws continues that Helen was “a true model as a scholar, supervisor, and mentor, combining great erudition with generosity, reason, humour, and kindness; it was an absolute privilege to work with her and to know her”.

Professor Alison Wright, Head of the Department of History of Art, says: “Professor Weston was admired and loved by her students and colleagues, and will be missed profoundly.”