Celebrating Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld

Two decades of remarkable achievement

In summer 2023, Professor Deborah Swallow – or ‘Debby’ as she is known affectionately to those fortunate enough to have worked alongside her – will step down as Märit Rausing Director after nearly two decades at the helm of The Courtauld.

As The Courtauld is on the threshold of a new chapter in its history, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on Professor Swallow51ݶ remarkable tenure and celebrate just a few of her many triumphs since she joined The Courtauld in 2004. A celebrated academic, curator and educator, Professor Swallow embodies the essence of everything that The Courtauld represents, working ceaselessly to advance our understanding of the visual arts. Under her visionary leadership, The Courtauld has grown as the world51ݶ leading academic centre for the research, conservation, curating and teaching of art history, and its world-renowned Gallery and collection has flourished.

Her impact has been truly life-changing, having profoundly inspired Courtauld students, staff, alumni and supporters worldwide. When we announced that she was stepping down, we were overwhelmed with warm messages and anecdotes expressing gratitude for her outstanding contributions to both The Courtauld51ݶ community and the discipline.

‘Under the leadership of Deborah Swallow, the face of The Courtauld, as always an outstanding centre of scholarship, has been transformed through improvements to the Gallery and a programme of collaborations with museums across the UK. The transformation project has given the academic institution a wider public purpose, while the recent announcement of a collaboration between The Courtauld and King51ݶ College London will extend the reach of art history into the broader field of the humanities. Debby has given The Courtauld a new place in London, the UK and the international community.’

Sir Nicholas Serota (MA 1970), Chair, Arts Council England

Vision for the future

The journey to realise Professor Swallow51ݶ vision for The Courtauld continues. Phase Two of Courtauld Connects (2023–26) will completely transform the East Wing at Somerset House, creating inspiring spaces to attract and engage the best and brightest students internationally, preparing them to be the next generation of leaders in the art, education, heritage and cultural sectors.

The project includes the creation of an outward-facing, wholly inclusive learning complex, where the wider academic and student community and public audiences will be able to engage with The Courtauld through events, lectures, short courses, access to our collections, our Library, our digital resources and more. By opening these facilities and activities for everyone to explore and learn about art history, we will continue to expand our reach, and in doing so, truly achieve our founder Samuel Courtauld51ݶ vision of “art for all”.

None of this could have been done without the extraordinary vision and dedication of Professor Swallow. On behalf of the whole Courtauld community of students, staff, alumni, volunteers, donors, patrons, friends and visitors, we express our profound thanks for her unwavering commitment to The Courtauld, her pioneering spirit and her infectious joy in sharing knowledge. She will remain active as an academic and museum professional – focusing on her own specialism, the arts of the South Asian subcontinent – through her work as a scholar and ongoing engagement with organisations in India and the UK. ٱǰ51ݶ daily presence at The Courtauld will be missed, but the lasting impact of her leadership will be felt for decades to come.

A lasting legacy

In recognition of Professor Swallow51ݶ outstanding commitment, dedication, and visionary leadership, we will be launching a special fundraising campaign soon and invite donations from across The Courtauld51ݶ community to name a space for her at our transformed campus in honour of her remarkable achievements.

Following the internationally acclaimed re-opening of The Courtauld Gallery in 2021, the second phase of our ambitious transformation project is now underway. The re-imagined campus at Somerset House will reunite our students, staff, and collection and ensure The Courtauld continues to inspire fresh thinking about art and culture and remains a place of academic excellence for future generations.

Ways to give

Alternatively, you can post a cheque made payable to ‘51ݶ Fund’ to: Development Office, The Courtauld, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
Please specify ‘Deborah Swallow Fund’ on the reverse of the cheque.

For donation enquiries and further giving methods, please contact our development team on+44 (0)20 3947 7721 or emailgifts@courtauld.ac.uk

‘Professor Swallow51ݶ leadership at The Courtauld has been transformative’


The Courtauld becomes an independent college of the University of London


Professor Deborah Swallow is appointed as Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld


Expansion and diversification of the curriculum beings with new MA options in History of Art and Conservation


The Research Forum, a major investment into innovation and dissemination of World Leading Research, is established


The Courtauld Gallery closes as part of a major redevelopment project, Courtauld Connects Phase 1


Teaching and learning temporarily relocates to the Vernon Square campus, King51ݶ Cross


First stage of renovations are completed with the re-opening of The Courtauld Gallery, Art Café, Shop, and Learning Centre; construction begins on the Linbury Conservation Centre


10-year strategic partnership with King51ݶ College London is announced; fundraising campaign is launched for Courtauld Connects Phase 2


Professor Mark Hallett (MA 1989, PhD 1996) is welcomed as Director Elect in April 2023 to continue The Courtauld51ݶ story…