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Dr Alexander Marr BA MSt DPhil FRHistS FSA

Dr Alexander Marr, BA MSt DPhil FRHistS FSA

Reader in the History of Early Modern Art (on sabbatical leave Michaelmas term 2018)

Director of Graduate Studies

Fellow of Trinity Hall

Director of Studies at Trinity Hall

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Research Interests

I am Reader in the History of Early Modern Art at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity Hall.  I specialize in European art and architecture 1450-1750, particularly their intellectual and scientific aspects.

My current research is chiefly on:

     Early modern ingenuity




     Visual wit

     Tudor and early Stuart art (especially portrait miniatures).

In previous work, I have explored mathematics and visual culture in Renaissance Italy (particularly Urbino and Milan); collecting, curiosity and wonder; architecture and print culture; Flemish cabinet painting; the history of books and reading (including the earliest evidence for Shakespeare's printed works abroad); gardens and designed landscapes (mainly in eighteenth-century England); artistic theory and natural philosophy.  I recently discovered a previously unidentified portrait of Descartes by Simon Vouet.

With colleagues Raphaële Garrod, José Marcaida and Richard Oosterhoff, I have written Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Early Modern Ingenuity, which is forthcoming from Pittsburgh University Press. This book 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, tentatively called Ingenuity and Artistic Freedom in Early Modern Europe.

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.

My awards include a Philip Leverhule Prize; research grants from the ERC and AHRC; fellowships at Oxford, the MPIWG Berlin and the Huntington Library.  In 2011 I was Robert H. Smith Scholar in Residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum.  

Research Projects:

I am Director of Genius before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art & Science, hosted by CRASSH and funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant. Read the Genius before Romanticism description of work here

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

With Christopher Heuer and Pablo Schneider I co-direct the project Epistemic Images in Early Modern Germany.  This is funded by the DAAD-Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies in partnership with the Clark Art Institute.

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:

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

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

   Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Ingenuity in Early Modern Europe, with R. Garrod, J. R. Marcaida, R. Oosterhoff (Pittsburgh University Press, forthcoming 2018/19)

   "Ingenuity and Discernment in The Cabinet of Cornelis van der Geest", Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (forthcoming, 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.  Prospective undergraduates may consult the college's website for further details.

Key Publications

Logodaedalus   Marr