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Dr Alexander Marr BA MSt DPhil FRHistS FSA

Dr Alexander Marr, BA MSt DPhil FRHistS FSA

Director, Centre for Visual Culture

Reader in the History of Early Modern Art

Director of Graduate Studies

Fellow of Trinity Hall

Director of Studies at Trinity Hall and Clare College


I am the Director of the University's Centre for Visual Culture, which launched in May 2019.  The CVC promotes object-led research into visual culture in its global contexts.

Research Interests

I specialize in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European art, particularly its intellectual and literary aspects.

My current research is chiefly on:

     Early modern ingenuity




     Visual wit

     Tudor and early Stuart art (especially portrait miniatures).

With colleagues Raphaële Garrod, José Marcaida and Richard Oosterhoff, I recently published Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Ingenuity in Early Modern Europe (Pittsburgh University Press, 2019). This monograph provides the first systematic history of the language of ingenuity (in Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch & German, and English) from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century.

I am currently completing a short monograph on Rubens for Reaktion Books and writing a longer book on ingenuity and early modern visual wit.

I have a longstanding interest in the physician and writer on art Richard Haydocke, whose treatise on dreams I recently edited.  I am (slowly) editing Haydocke's translation of Lomazzo for the MHRA's Tudor and Stuart Translations series.

In previous work I have studied Renaissance mathematical culture, the history of books and reading, early modern architects and engineers, garden history, and the history of the concepts "curiosity" and "wonder".

I am in the early stages of developing a project to study calligraphy comparatively over the longue durée (ca. 10th century to the present).

Research Projects:

With Elisabeth Oy-Marra (University of Mainz) I am co-organising a series of conference on "Drawing and the Early-Modern Graphic Imagination", supported by the DAAD-Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies.

I was the Director of Genius before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art & Science, hosted by CRASSH and funded by the ERC (2014-19). Read the Genius before Romanticism description of work here

With Sachiko Kusukawa (PI) and Felicity Henderson I was a Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded research project Making Visible: The Visual and Graphic Practices of the Early Royal Society (2015-19)

With Christopher Heuer and Pablo Schneider I co-directed the project Epistemic Images in Early Modern Germany.  This was funded by the DAAD-Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies, in partnership with the Clark Art Institute (2016-18)

From 2012 to 2014 I ran a collaborative project with the University of Southern California's Early Modern Studies Institute on early modern visual and material culture.

Selected Recent and Forthcoming Publications:

   Rubens’ Spirit: Art & Ingenuity in Early Modern Europe (under contract, Reaktion Books)

   Early Modern Epistemic Images, special issue of Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, edited with Christopher Heuer; including (with R.

   Oosterhoff), "Outstanding Ingenuity and Graphic Freedom: Jean I du Temps's Organon Astronomicon and the Reception of Copernicus"

   Descartes and the Ingenium: The Embodied Soul in Cartesianism, edited with R. Garrod

   Ingenuity in the Making: Materials and Techniques in Early Modern Europe, edited with R. Oosterhoff and J. R. Marcaida

   The Places of Early Modern Criticism, edited with G. Alexander and E. Gilby (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2020); including 

   "Locus genii: Placing Genius in Roger de Piles's Criticism"

   "Sir William Sanderson and Copying for 'Private Practice'", Word & Image (forthcoming, 2019)

   "Ingenuity and Discernment in The Cabinet of Cornelis van der Geest (1628)", Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (forthcoming,


   Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Ingenuity in Early Modern Europe, with R. Garrod, J. R. Marcaida, R. Oosterhoff (Pittsburgh

   University  Press, 2019)

   "Ingenuity in Nuremberg: Dürer and Stabius’s Instrument Prints", The Art Bulletin, vol. 100, no. 3 (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 2:2 (2017)

   "Knowing Images", Renaissance Quarterly 69:3 (2016)

   "Pregnant Wit: ingegno in Renaissance England", British Art Studies 1 (2015)

   "Crowned with harmless fire: A New Look at Descartes", The Times Literary Supplement (March 11, 2015)

   "Walther Ryff, Plagiarism and Imitation in Sixteenth-Century Germany", Print Quarterly 31:2 (2014)

Graduate Students:

I welcome applications from prospective MPhil and PhD students whose intended research relates to my research interests, above.  I supervise students who work on Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands and England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Recent and current graduate students' topics include: "The Visual Culture of the Académie Royale des Sciences in the Age of Louis XIV"; "Mathematics and the Craft of Thought in Early Modern England and the Low Countries"; "Fantasia in Cinquecento Theory"; "Visceral Creativity: Digestion, Earthly Melancholy and Materiality in Early Modern Art"; "The Heroic Portrait in Early Modern Italy"; "Liveliness in Post-Reformation England"; "The Early Modern Heraldic Imagination"; "Cross-dressing in Early Modern Art".

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

Logodaedalus   Marr