I was born and grew up in The Netherlands but have lived in England for over 20 years. I studied art history (architectural history) and philosophy at the VU university in Amsterdam. As I loved the research side of my university years I stayed on after my Masters to do a Ph.D in art history. When my children were born I left academia, but art history was never far away, and it became fused into my work as a visual artist, especially early modern lace. I have researched early modern lace in Dutch and English portraiture and am currently consolidating my findings into writing. 

I am diving back into academia through an MSc in Ancient History (online) at the University of Edinburgh. I am writing my dissertation on Roman funerary portraiture. Life beyond graduation is still unclear but I am looking forward to more research projects!

  • MSc Ancient Worlds, University of Edinburgh (in progress, exp. spring 2024)
  • Ph.D Art and Architectural History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) / University of Groningen, 2006
  • MA Art and Architectural History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), 1998
Interests: Portraiture, Roman Art & History, Classics, Reception of Classical Art, 16th and 17th century Dutch and English Art, Aesthetics and Theory of Arts, Tudor/Stuart Britain, Lace History. 


MSc Ancient Worlds. Dissertation research into Roman gravestone portraiture. Ongoing. 

Lace in Early Modern Portraiture. The role of lace in Dutch and English 17th century portraiture. Art historic research combined with painting projects: BP Travel Award (awarded in 2013 by National Portrait Gallery London). Output was exhibitions of paintings, blog posts, lace trail book. Continuing research project with recent blog posts on Rembrandt and Hilliard (2013-2023). 

Portland Collection. The Harley Gallery invited me to research The Portland Collection (art collection of Welbeck Abbey) and create an exhibition of new paintings (2016-2017).

Ph.D Art History University of Groningen/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2006)
Staged Experiences. Architecture and rhetoric in the work of Sir Henry Wotton, Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanbrugh.
My Ph.D research focussed on the role of classical rhetoric in English 17th and early 18th century architecture. I analysed Sir Henry Wotton’s 1614 treatise on architecture, Hawksmoor’s early 18th century London churches and Vanbrugh’s country houses, as well as the reception of the classical concept of the sublime via 17th century editions of the classical text of Longinus. The project was part of a research programme on the role of rhetoric in the visual arts funded by the Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research (NWO) led by Prof. Caroline van Eck. Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Auke van der Woud, Prof. Dr. Caroline van Eck. VU University Amsterdam. Final viva and degree awarded at University of Groningen. - Link to PDF version of dissertation


Sophie Ploeg, The 17th-Century Golden Age of Dutch Paintings: Dogs are Everywhere, The Bark, Fall 2017, issue 91, pp. 72-79.

Sophie Ploeg, The Lace Trail. Fabric And Lace In Early 17th Century Portraiture. An Interpretation In Paint, Blurb, 2014 (self-published book to coincide with the BP Travel Award project, on sale during the BP Portrait Award exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery shop).

Sophie Ploeg, Staged experiences: the church designs of Nicholas Hawksmoor, in: Winters, E., Eck, C.A. van, Dealing with the Visual. Art History, Aesthetics and Visual Culture, Routledge, 2005, pp. 215-37.

Sophie Ploeg, Nederland en het Neoclassicisme, in: Kunstlicht, 20 (1999), nr. 2.

See also my blog for most of my writing

See for publications for artists my painting CV


Various speaking engagements during my PhD (1998-2006): conferences in Ghent, London.

BP Travel Award: various speaking engagements during this project from 2014 onwards: British Museum evening for BP employees (2014), Scottish National Portrait Gallery to accompany exhibition (2014), Harley Gallery to accompany exhibition (2016), and some local painting clubs (2014-15).

Painting demonstrations at local art clubs (2014-2018).


(non academic) I have taught painting workshops for a few years, before I moved all painting classes online. I have created numerous online video courses for artists, which are now accessible through my website