Dora Thornton

Renaissance Europe and Curator of the Waddesdon Bequest

Department: Britain, Europe and Prehistory 


+44 (0)20 7323 8665

Dr Dora Thornton is Curator of the Waddesdon Bequest and Curator of Renaissance Europe, with specialist interest in Renaissance Italy (see publications and projects).

Most recently, she curated the British Museum exhibition for the Cultural Olympiad and World Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare: staging the world, which was mounted in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012. She also wrote, with the international Shakespeare scholar Professor Jonathan Bate, a scholarly book of the same title to accompany the exhibition and present a large amount of new research into Shakespeare’s world. She is now working on a new permanent gallery for the Waddesdon Bequest, an outstanding Rothschild cabinet collection - or Kunstkammer - on the European courtly model, which will open in 2015.

The collections in her care range widely and include some of the world’s finest collections of Spanish lustred ceramics (Hispano-Moresque), Italian ceramics [maiolica, slipware and Medici porcelain], Venetian glass, French painted enamels, and Italian plaquettes. She publishes, lectures and answers enquiries in these areas. The collection also includes important Tudor material and English early modern silver. Dora also reports on Treasure cases from 1500-1660.

Current projects

The Waddesdon Bequest gallery

Previous projects

Italian Renaissance Ceramics; A Catalogue of the British Museum’s Collection
with Timothy Wilson of the Ashmolean Museum

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

Recent publications

D. Thornton, Shakespeare: staging the world, with Jonathan Bate, British Museum Press, London, 2012

D. Thornton, Shakespeare’s Britain, with Jonathan Bate and Becky Allen, British Museum Press, London 2012

D. Thornton, Italian Renaissance Ceramics, A Catalogue of the British Museum’s Collection, with Timothy Wilson, 2 vols., British Museum Press, London, 2009

D. Thornton, “Cantagalli pieces in the British Museum and the Fondo Cantagalli”, in Il Risorgimento della maiolica italiana:Ginori e Cantagalli, eds; Livia Frescobaldi Malenchini and Oliva Rucellai, Museum, Florence 2011-12, Florence 2011, pp. 121-130

D. Thornton,  “The Waddesdon Bequest as a neo-Kunstkammer of the 19th Century”, Silver Studies, 2008, pp. 15-25.

D. Thornton, Art and Love in Renaissance Italy, ed. Andrea Bayer, MMA, New York, and Kimbell,  Fort Worth, New Haven and London 2008, cats. 1-31, pp. 68-100, and cats. 79 and 81.

D. Thornton, “A plaquette by Leone Leoni acquired by the British Museum”, The Burlington Magazine, December 2006, CXLVIII, pp. 828-32

D. Thornton, 'The Use of Dürer Prints as Sources for Italian Renaissance Maiolica' , in G. Bartrum (ed.), Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, (British Museum Occasional Paper 130, 2004)

D. Thornton, “Le mie cose: Fra Sabba da Castiglione e i suoi oggetti”, in AR Gentilini, (ed.) Sabba da Castiglione 1480-1554. Dalle corti rinascimentali alla Commenda di Faenza, atti del convegno , Faenza 19-20 maggio 2000, (Florence 2004), pp.307-22

D. Thornton, “A bella donna from the Pasolini collection in the British Museum”, Faenza, LXXXIX, (2003), pp.135-50

D. Thornton, seven entries for Giulia Bartrum, (ed.), Albrecht Dürer and his legacy, (The British Museum, London 2002), p.246, cat.199, p.248, cat.202, p.254, cats.208-209, p.256, cat.210, p.262, cat.216 (exhibition catalogue)