Joanna Woodall read history at the University of York, with a year abroad at Vassar College. She trained at The Courtauld Institute of Art and began her PhD research at the University of Cambridge, as Speelman Fellow in Dutch and Flemish Art. Having spent several years in curatorial work at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford, and a year on a Leverhulme Fellowship at the University of Leiden, she joined the academic staff of The Courtauld Institute of Art in 1986. From 2002–2005 Joanna was Deputy Director, Head of Studies. She has since returned to her research and teaching.