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Dr Mary Healy



Healy's field of study is French art history from 1860 to 1968. She is specialising in the works of French women Orientalists and their observations, which were usually painted in a realist/natrualist style, of the French colonies in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Presently only one female artist, Henriette Browne (1829-1901), has been recognised within the canon of French Orientalism. Since 2008, Healy has conducted empirical research in French archival bodies and has thus uncovered and databased over one hundred largely ignored female Orientalist artists all of whom practiced in France, and many in the Maghreb, from 1860 to 1968. A number of the female artists under scrutiny were hugely successful artists in their day receiving noted awards from the official Salon de Paris as well as Knighthoods of the Legion of Honour from the French government in recognition of their artistic achievements. Healy is examining a select number of these Orientalists (their lives, works of art and observations of the French colonies in the Maghreb) through the interdisciplinary fields of art history, colonial and postcolonial history, women's studies and cultural studies. On compiling this database Healy has been able to demonstrate the existence of these women as nineteenth/early twentieth century French orientalists; moreover, through the database she will be able to confirm their significant contributions to the Orientalist movement in France through the development of a grounded theory relating to the cultural elements of North Africa depicted within female works of art.

In 2009, Healy travelled 3000 km throughout Tunisia and its Sahara desert region in order to view locations where some women Orientalists painted as well as to study the cultural and historical aspects of the people. There, in many rural areas in the northern Sahara desert such as Chenini, Tamerza and Matmata, she located landscapes and cultural characteristics depicted by some women Orientalists while interviewing Berber and Arabic women who uphold the traditions and ways of life of both cultures. Healy's research explores the diverse naturalist method of Western description employed by some women artists which, in turn, shows how they contributed to the Orientalist movement in France; moreover, Healy's research has led to the realisation that until we acknowledge women artists in the canon of Orientalist art - we cannot appreciate the movement in its true fullness.

Healy successfully completed her PhD in June 2012. Forthcoming publication in 2013.


Research Interests


Research Interests: European, especially French, art of the nineteenth & twentieth centuries; gender, Orientalism, the history of travel and French/North African cultural exchange; post-colonial writings and cultural representation in art and other visual media.

For full profile/webpage see:


Professional Activities


  • 2012 University of Limerick - PhD
  • 2007 University of Limerick - MA
  • 2006 LSAD - BA


  • 2012 University of Limerick - Lecturing Fellow in the History of art and Visual Culture
  • 2008 University of Limerick - Guest Lecturer and Tutor in the History of Art and Visual Culture


  • 2011 member, The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand
  • 2011 member, The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand
  • 2010 member, College Art Association (New York)
  • 2010 member, Yale University's Nineteenth Century Art Historical Research Group
  • 2009 member, Egypt and Austria (association of researchers who examine historic European travel in Egypt and the Middle East),
  • 2009 member, Irish History Students Association
  • 2008 member, Irish Association of Art Historians
  • 2008 member, Association of Art Historians
  • 2007 member, Centre for Historical Research of University of Limerick & Mary Immaculate College


  • 2010 - Invited Visiting Researcher, Yale University
  • 2010 - Fulbright Scholar for research in the humanities (Yale University)
  • 2010 - irish Research Council Scholar
  • 2008 - University of Limerick Scholar 2008-2011 (accepted 2008-2010)


  • Curatorial work: Actively involved in the exhibition of historical and contemporary works of art: negotiating, curating, cataloguing, editorial work, conservation, hanging, the organisation of openings, communicating with professional and non-professional art lovers, marketing and public relations.

  • Art Practice: I am also a practicing artist working through traditional printmaking, painting and photography.


  • Select Critics' Reviews and Feature Pieces:

    'Mary Healy, a graduate in print, staged ambitious photographic tableaux reworking iconic paintings with great verve, showing a vastly more attentive awareness of painting than most of her fellow graduates in the painting department.’

    -- Aidan Dunne,‘Artists on the Line’ in The Irish Times(27 June, 2006), p. 12

    Niall Murray, ‘Invaluable Access to Rare Journals’ in Irish Examiner (feature on research at Yale) (4 Jan., 2011), p.6

    Colette Sheridan, ‘Healy’s Take on Women Artists’ in Irish Examiner (27 July, 2010), p.14        

    Christine Brennan, ‘The Forgotten Artists’ in UL Links Magazine (July, 2010), pp. 63-65

    Pauline Matthews, ‘Yale Holds the Key to Success for Mary’ in Evening Echo (6 October, 2010), p.15

    Gordon Smith, ‘Scholars to Live Dream in America’, The Irish Times, 2 July 2010

    Julie Hornsby, ‘Highlights of A.S.T.E.N.E. Conference 2009’ in Cornucopia (Global periodical on Turkish culture, travel and history), July 2009

    Myles Dungan, Review of and discussion on art, The Arts Show, Radio One, Ireland, 21 Aug. 2006


Book Chapter

Edited Book


The Water Colour Society of Ireland

Other Journal