skip to content

Department of History of Art



Donal Cooper is University Lecturer in Italian Renaissance Art and a Fellow of Jesus College. He read modern history at Oxford University before studying art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He completed his PhD on Franciscan art and architecture in central Italy at the Courtauld in 2000. Between 2002 and 2005 he worked in the Research Department at the V&A, contributing to the redisplay of the Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. Before joining Cambridge in 2013, he was Assistant and then Associate Professor in the History of Art Department at the University of Warwick. He was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding scholarship in 2006 and held a Hannah Kiel Fellowship at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence in 2009-10.

Dr Cooper’s research focuses on sacred art and architecture in Italy from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, with particular emphasis on the patronage of the most dynamic religious order of the age, the Franciscans. The first volume of his co-authored study with Dr Janet Robson on the Basilica of San Francesco, The Making of Assisi: The Pope, the Franciscans and the Painting of the Basilica, was published by Yale University Press in 2013 (***** review in The Daily Telegraph) and won the 2014 Art Book prize. Other recent publications have focused on Giotto’s Franciscan commissions and Dr Cooper was a major contributor to the catalogue accompanying the Giotto e compagni exhibition held at the Louvre in spring 2013. Future publications reassess works by Raphael and Titian for Franciscan churches in light of their spatial settings and ritual contexts.

Beyond Italy, Dr Cooper researches Latin artistic patronage in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in Dalmatia, Crete and other former territories of the Venetian Stato da Mar. He is also interested in the application of digital media to recover and communicate original contexts for artworks. In conjunction with the National Gallery, Dr Cooper is co-supervising an AHRC-funded doctoral project to reconstruct the historic settings of a number of the gallery’s Renaissance altarpieces.

Dr Cooper welcomes applications from research students interested in the art and architecture of Southern Europe between ca. 1200 and ca. 1550.

University Senior Lecturer in Italian Renaissance Art
Fellow of Jesus College
Director of Studies at Jesus College
Dr Donal  Cooper