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Department of History of Art



I am a historian of Renaissance and Early Modern art in its intellectual contexts. You can find out more about me and my work on my personal website.


European and British art (1450-1750) in connection with intellectual and literary culture. I am particularly interested in the relationships between art, language and concepts--especially concerning creativity and inquiry (ingenuity, genius, wit, curiosity, wonder, etc.).

My recent work has been on: Dürer, Holbein and Rubens, especially in relation to "wit" (ingenium); Simon Vouet; epistemic aesthetics; word history; English portrait miniatures; and Richard Haydocke, whose translation of Lomazzo's Trattato I am editing for the MHRA.

I am currently writing a monograph on Hans Holbein the Younger and ingenuity (Holbein's Wit) and co-directing a project on "ambiguity and precision" in early modern art.

You can find out more about me and my work at my personal website

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 and Clare 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)

“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)

You can find out more about my publications at my personal website

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
Dr Alexander  Marr