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Frances Rothwell Hughes

Frances Rothwell Hughes

PhD Thesis: The Heraldic Imagination in German-Speaking Lands, circa 1480-1560


Pembroke College

Supervised by Dr Alexander Marr



Research Interests

My PhD research investigates the transformation of heraldic imagery during the early modern period, focusing in particular on the 'northern' European Renaissance.  I aim to counter the prevailing tendency in art historical scholarship, which assumes that heraldry was a restrictive, stiff and stale imagery that was at odds with the pictorial naturalism and literary culture associated with the Renaissance.  My thesis traces the diversification of heraldic visual culture from the 1480s onwards and, in so doing, suggests ways in which heraldry was in dialogue with the cultural concerns of early modern Europe, including satire and parody, the study of the natural world, and the growing theorisation of ornament.

More broadly, I am interested in print culture, ornament in the Northern Renaissance and communicative or epistemic imagery, including heraldry but also calligraphy and scientific diagrams.    



Key Publications

Hughes, F., “Sylvanus Morgan’s Library: Books for an Aspirational Heraldic Painter,” The Library, 22:1 (March 2021): 69-92.

Hughes, F., “Micrography, Medleys and Marks: The Visual Discernment of Text in the Calligraphy Collection of Samuel Pepys,” Word & Image, 36:4 (December 2020): 397-416.

Hughes, F., “The Rothley Shaft: An Art-Historical Reassessment,” Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Transactions, 90 (2016): 141-156.