Francesca Borgo, PhD

Visiting scholar

Francesca Borgo (PhD, Harvard University) is Lecturer in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews. She specializes in Renaissance art, with a focus on intersections between visual, literary, and scientific culture, and on the work of Leonardo da Vinci in particular. She was recently awarded the first RSA-Kress Carlo Pedretti Fellowship in Leonardo da Vinci Studies (2017), as well as a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Getty Research Institute (2017/18). At the GRI, she will contribute to the annual research theme, Iconoclasm and Vandalism, with a project on early modern responses to the vulnerability and resilience of images in times of conflict. Francesca received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Art History with a minor field in Italian Studies from Harvard in 2017. She previously studied in Italy and Spain and holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Ca' Foscari University of Venice. During her doctoral studies, she was a Guest Researcher at the University of Hamburg (2016), Graduate Visiting Fellow at Villa I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (2015), Doctoral Fellow (2015-17) and Samuel H. Kress Institutional Fellow (2013-2015) at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, where she remains a member of the research group Rinascimento Conteso. Her work has been supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Max-Planck Gesellschaft, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Renaissance Society of America, the Italian Art Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. Francesca collaborated with the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi in Florence, the Soprintendenza per i Beni Storico-Artistici in Venice and Verona, and with Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara for the exhibition Orlando Furioso. 500 years. She co-organized two international conferences, Vasari/500: Envisioning New Directions in Vasari Studies at Harvard (2011), and Leonardo e gli altri/Leonardo in Dialogue at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (2015), the proceedings of which are forthcoming. Her first book project explores the emergence of an art-critical discourse surrounding the representation of war during the Cinquecento. It situates battle scenes within the context of contemporary artistic, rhetorical, scientific, and literary theories, and turns to the major figurative episodes of the period – for example, the battles by Leonardo and Michelangelo – to reinsert them into a history of the genre. The resulting account elucidates how battle scenes were conceptualized and received, and restores them to their privileged position in the history of painting as formulated by early writers on art.


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