Sheila O’Connell

Assistant Keeper
British Prints before 1880

Department: Prints and Drawings


+44 (0)20 7323 8208

Sheila O’Connell is the curator responsible for British prints up to the late nineteenth century. Her main interests are the eighteenth century print trade, particularly the career of William Hogarth, and British popular prints and satires.

Current projects

Working with Tim Clayton, an independent print and military historian, to research the British relationship to Napoleon as seen through contemporary prints.

Working with a team of cataloguers to prepare records of the collection of British and French prints for online access: more than 200,000 such prints already have records and efforts are currently focussed on the Museum’scollection of portrait prints up to the early 20th century.

Previous projects

In 2003, she organised London 1753, an exhibition portraying the city in which the British Museum was founded 250 years ago.

In 1999 she organised an exhibition dealing with the cheaper end of the print market before the days of mass production. This was accompanied by her book, The Popular Print in England

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Council Member, London Topographical Society

Curatorial adviser, Dr Johnson’s House

Trustee, William Hogarth Trust

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

Recent publications

S. O’Connell, ‘Portraits of an Actor: David Garrick (1717-79)’, in A. Milano (ed.), Generali e mendicanti, attori e sovrani. Ritratti nelle stampe a larga diffusione dal XVII al XX secolo, Bassano, 2013, pp. 347-61

S. O’Connell, ‘Humorous, Historical and Miscellaneous: Mezzotints, One Shilling Plain, Two Shillings Coloured’, in Publishing History, LXXX, 2013, pp. 83-100

S. O’Connell, ‘Samuel Molyneux, Mary Toft and Nathaniel St André’,  in Paul Holden The London Letters of Samuel Molyneux, 1712-13, London Topographical Society, 2012

S. O’Connell and R. Baker, ‘Satirical Prints by Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale’, in Print Quarterly, XXVIII, 2011, pp.338-343

S. O’Connell, ‘O'Neale as a Miniature Painter and Print Designer’, in S. Hanscombe, Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale, China Painter & Illustrator, London, 2010

S. O’Connell, ‘One of the Hungry Mob of Scriblers and Etchers: Johnson’s Pension in Visual Satire’, in The Age of Johnson, XX, 2010, pp. 61-78

S O'Connell (ed.), Britain meets the World (exhibition catalogue, The Palace Museum, Beijing, 2007)

S. O'Connell, London 1753 (British Museum, 2003) (British Museum exhibition catalogue)

S. O'Connell, The Popular Print in England (British Museum, 1999)

S. O'Connell, 'This Horryble Monster ...: an Anglo-German broadside of 1531', with D. Paisey, Print Quarterly, March 1999

S. O'Connell, 'William Second Baron Cheylesmore (1843-1902) and the Taste for Mezzotints', in A. Griffiths (ed.), Landmarks in Print Collecting (Houston, and elsewhere, Museum of Fine Arts, 1996-7)