Oliver Watson

Emeritus Professor of Islamic Art, Khalili Research Centre, and Oriental Institute

Oliver Watson is an historian of Islamic art, specialising in the history of pottery. After a career as curator in the Victoria and Albert and the Ashmolean Museums he was appointed Director of the the Museum of Islamic Art Qatar in 2008. He joined the University of Oxford in 2011 as the first I. M.Pei Professor of Islamic Art, retiring in 2016.

His research interests include the early development of glazed pottery in the Islamic world, the mediaeval pottery of Syria and Iran, fakes and forgeries, and the history of collecting.

His major publications include a book on Persian Lustre Ware (London, 1985), a general history of Islamic Pottery – Ceramics from Islamic Lands (London, 2004); a history of studio pottery including a catalogue of the V&A collections - Studio Pottery (London, 1993) and an exhibition on the life and work of Bernard Leach: Potter and Artist (London, 1997). His latest book Ceramics of Iran; Islamic pottery from the Sarikhani Collection, YUP, 2020, is a large catalogue of pottery and tilework from the 8th to the 18th centuries.