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Department of History of Art



Alexander Marr is Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern Art. He specializes in German, Netherlandish, Italian, French and British art ca. 1450-ca. 1800, especially its intellectual and literary aspects in their social contexts. Before coming to Cambridge, he taught at the University of Southern California and the University of St Andrews. From 2014 to 2019 he was Director of the project Genius before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art & Science, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (€1.8 million). His awards include a Paul Mellon Centre Senior Fellowship, the Robert H. Smith Residency at the V&A, and a Philip Leverhulme Prize. He was the founding Director of Cambridge’s CVC and has directed research projects at CRASSH, the DAAD-Cambridge Hub for German Studies, and the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. Marr is Fellow and Dean of Discipline at Trinity Hall, and Director of Studies there and at Clare College. He is the President of the Leonardo da Vinci Society: a learned society dedicated to the study of art and science from the Renaissance to the present day. Further information may be found at his personal website.


German, Netherlandish, Italian, French and British art ca. 1450-ca. 1800, with a particular focus on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Painting, the graphic arts, and print culture. Art and architectural theory. Renaissance humanism. Philology, word history, and history of concepts (especially those concerning creativity). History of science, particularly the mathematical arts. History of books and reading.

Recent work has been on Holbein, Dürer, Rubens, Massys, Erasmus, Thomas More, Urs Graf, Niklaus Manuel. Flemish art (especially in Antwerp). Wit and artistic play. 

Current projects include:

A monograph on Hans Holbein the Younger and pictorial intelligence (Holbein’s Wit)

Shorter pieces on: Quinten Massys; Dürer, Erasmus and Jerome; violence and imagination in the graphic works of Niklaus Manuel and Urs Graf; Rubens’s Het Pelsken.

An edition of Richard Haydocke’s translation of Lomazzo’s Trattato della Pittura (for the MHRA).

Graduate Students:

I welcome applications from prospective MPhil and PhD students whose intended research relates to my current research interests--please contact me in advance if you are considering making an application.  I supervise students who work on Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Recent and current PhD students' topics include:

Botanical Symbolism in German Renaissance Portraiture; Armour and Culture in Early Modern Germany; Schemata in Early Modern Art; The Early Modern Heraldic Imagination; Cross-dressing in Early Modern Art; The Heroic Portrait in Early Modern Italy; Liveliness in Post-Reformation England; Fantasia in Cinquecento Italy; Visceral Creativity: Digestion, Earthly Melancholy and Materiality in Early Modern Art; Mathematics and the Craft of Thought in Early Modern England and the Low Countries; The Visual Culture of the Académie Royale des Sciences in the Age of Louis XIV.

Undergraduate Students:

I am Director of Studies in History of Art at Trinity Hall, Clare College, and Gonville & Caius College.  Prospective undergraduates may consult the colleges' websites for further details.


Key publications: 


Rubens’s Spirit: From Ingenuity to Genius (Reaktion Books, 2021).

Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Ingenuity in Early Modern Europe (Pittsburgh University Press, 2018), co-authored with Raphaële Garrod, José Ramón Marcaida, Richard J. Oosterhoff.

Between Raphael and Galileo: Mutio Oddi and the Mathematical Culture of Late Renaissance Italy (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2011)

Ingenuity in the Making: Materials and Techniques in Early Modern Europe (Pittsburgh University Press, 2021).  Edited with Richard J. Oosterhoff and José Ramón Marcaida.

The Places of Early Modern Criticism (Oxford University Press, 2021). Edited with Gavin Alexander and Emma Gilby.

Descartes and the Ingenium. The Embodied Soul in Cartesianism (Brill, 2020). Edited with Raphaële Garrod.

The Worlds of Oronce Fine: Mathematics, Instruments, and Print in Renaissance France (Shaun Tyas, 2009).

Curiosity and Wonder from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment (Ashgate, 2006). Edited with R.J.W. Evans.

Epistemic Images in Early Modernity. Special issue of 21:Inquiries, no. 2 (Autumn 2020). Edited with Christopher P. Heuer.

Nicholas Hilliard, Isaac Oliver and the Miniature in Context, special issue of British Art Studies (Autumn 2020). Edited with Catharine MacLeod.

Curiously Drawn: Early Modern Science as a Visual Pursuit, special issue of Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 78 (2015). Edited with Sachiko Kusukawa and Felicity Henderson.

Early Modern Invention, special issue of Intellectual History Review, vol. 24 (2014). Edited with Vera Keller.

Picturing Collections in Early Modern Europe, special issue of Intellectual History Review, vol. 20 (2010)

"Holbein's Earliest Portraits in England? The Sequence of his Work for Sir Thomas More", British Art Journal (2024)

“Erasmus’s Nose”, Source: Notes in the History of Art (2023)

“Holbein’s Second Portrait of Nicolas Bourbon”, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance (2022)

“A Mirror of Wisdom: Simon Vouet’s Satyrs Admiring the Anamorphosis of an Elephant and its Afterlives”, in Susanna Berger and Daniel Garber (eds.), Teaching Philosophy in Early Modern Europe: Text and Image (2021)

Locus genii: Placing Genius in Roger de Piles’s Criticism”, in The Places of Early Modern Criticism (2021)

“Ingenuity and Discernment in The Cabinet of Cornelis van der Geest (1628)”, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol. 69 (2019)

“Ingenuity in Nuremberg: Dürer and Stabius’s Instrument Prints”, The Art Bulletin, vol. 100 (2018)

“Richard Haydocke’s Oneirologia: A Manuscript Treatise on Sleep and Dreams, including the ‘Arguments’ of King James I”, Erudition and the Republic of Letters, vol. 2 (2017)

“Knowing Images”, Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 69 (2016)

“Pregnant Wit: Ingegno in Renaissance England”, British Art Studies, no. 1 (2015)

“Walther Ryff, Plagiarism and Imitation in Sixteenth-Century Germany”, Print Quarterly, vol. 31 (2014)



Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern Art (on leave for the 2022-23 academic year)
Fellow and Dean of Discipline of Trinity Hall
Director of Studies at Trinity Hall and Clare College
Director of Studies at Gonville & Caius College
Dr Alexander  Marr

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