Nicole M. Hartwell

Nicole M. Hartwell

Associate Researcher

Interests and experience

I specialise in visual and material culture of late-18th to mid-20th century Britain, with a focus on art portraying historical subjects (especially those pertaining to the history of the British Empire, political and royal events) and Victorian social and cultural life. My research, talks and publications to date have examined various themes including the history of collecting and collections, British military traditions, representations of warfare in British art and Victorian portraiture.

Presently, I am a Junior Research Fellow at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge examining and reinterpreting the fine and applied art collections of the National Army Museum related to war and empire.

Conference presentations / public events:

Hartwell, Nicole M., ‘Using Visual and Material Culture to Uncover Colonial History’, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 5 July 2023.

Hartwell, Nicole M., ‘Alliances in Military Art: The Victoria Cross Paintings of Louis William Desanges’, Alliances in the History of Armed Conflict, 1642-present Conference, National Army Museum, 24-25 March 2023.

Hartwell, Nicole M., ‘The Indian Army in Art and Memory - A Painting by Frank Owen Salisbury’, Talk to museum patrons in the Indian Army Memorial Room, Royal Military College, Sandhurst, 19 October 2022.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Stone, shot and tattered silk: Material fragments of colonial military campaigns', Cultural History Seminar, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, 27 April 2022.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Exhibiting colonial legacies, Rethinking the Indian Rebellion Community Curators project, Highlanders' Museum, Fort George, 16 March 2022.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Early Career Perspectives', British Military History Past, Present and Future, Chelsea History Festival, 21 September 2021.

Hartwell, Nicole M., ‘Legacies of Empire’, International Perspectives on Military Collecting, National Army Museum, 27-28 February 2020.

Hartwell, Nicole M., ‘A Victorian Military Martyr: The Relics of General Charles Gordon’, Société Française d’Etudes Victoriennes et Edouardiennes Conference ‘Showcasing Empire’, Aix-Marseille Université, Aix-en-Provence, 20-22 February 2020.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Provenance Research and Nineteenth Century Military Collecting', Provenance Research, Collecting Histories and Due Diligence: Enriching Understanding for Museums and Audiences, National Museums Scotland, 29 October 2019.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Provenance Research and Military Collections', National Army Museum Conference, 3 April 2019.


Hartwell, Nicole M., ‘Dora Meeson: Artist at War’, Selwyn College Magazine, forthcoming in 2023.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Coveted, silvered, inscribed: currency as mementoes of colonial military campaigns', in Richard Kelleher (ed), Defaced! Money, Conflict, Protest exhibition catalogue (Paul Holberton Press).

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'The Indian Army wrought in silver', Muster Magazine, Summer 2022, pp. 10-13.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Framing colonial war loot: The 'captured' spolia opima of Kunwar Singh', Journal of the History of Collections, Vol 24, Issue 2 (2022), pp. 287-302.

Henrietta Lidchi and Nicole M. Hartwell, 'Colonial collections in British military museums: Of objects, materiality and sentiment', in Howard Morphy and Robyn McKenzie (eds), Museums, Societies and the Creation of Value (London: Routledge, 2021), chapter three.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Artefacts of mourning and the Indian Uprising, 1857-8', International Committee for Museums and Collections of Arms and Military History Conference Proceedings, 2019.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'A repository of virtue? The United Service Museum, collecting, and the professionalization of the British armed forces, 1829-1864', Journal of the History of Collections 31(1), 2019, pp. 77-91.

Hartwell, Nicole M., 'Uncovering stories of military collecting', History Scotland 18(5), 2018, pp. 8-9.

Further information

From July 2017 - November 2020 I was junior researcher and assistant curator at National Museums Scotland for a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. One of the outputs for this project was an exhibition held at the National War Museum, Edinburgh Castle, titled 'Legacies of Empire'. For this exhibition I undertook the majority of the research, and acted as assistant curator.

In 2017 I was awarded my DPhil at the University of Oxford in Modern British Military and Imperial History.

From 2010-2013 I was a Research Assistant at PRIO. In addition to my current role at Selwyn, I am an Associate Researcher at National Museums Scotland.

I am originally from Australia and have further degrees in history and international affairs from the University of Western Australia, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian National University.

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