Bronwen Wilson




Ph.D. Northwestern University, 1999
Phone 310-206-6905
Office Dodd 206D
Office Hours: By appointment


Bronwen Wilson’s research and teaching explores the artistic and urban culture of Renaissance Italy and early modern Europe. The histories of Venetian art, of space and vision, and of European perceptions of the Ottoman Turks are important for several publications, including The World in Venice: Print, the City, and Early Modern Identity (winner of the Roland H. Bainton prize for Art History in 2006). Her recently-completed book, The Face of Uncertainty, turns to increasing doubt about the trustworthiness of the human face and accompanying artistic experimentation with physiognomy, animals, and sensation in Northern Italy. The moving image is the subject of her current study, “Inscription and the Horizon in Early Modern Mediterranean Travel Imagery,” which brings to the fore innovative uses of media and ways in which diverse temporal experiences were materialized in visual forms.


Fellowships include Villa i Tatti in Florence, The Folger Shakespeare Library, The Newberry Library, The Bogliasco Foundation in Liguria, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which has also funded current projects in which she is a co-investigator: Making Worlds: Art, Materiality, and Early Modern Globalization and Early Modern Conversions, the largest international collaboration of its kind.



  • Bronwen Wilson and Angela Vanhaelen, eds. Special Issue: Making Worlds: Art, Materiality, and Early Modern Globalization, Journal of Early Modern History 23, n 2-3, May 2019.

  • “Sacred and Spiritual Conversions: Federico Barocci’s Christ and Mary Magdalene,” Quid est sacramentum?: On the Visual Representation of Sacred Mysteries in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700, eds. Walter Melion, Lee Palmer Wandel, and Elizabeth Pastan, Brill, August 2019, 398-424.

  • “The Itinerant Artist and the Islamic Urban Prospect: Guillaume-Joseph Grélot’s Self-portraits in Ambrosio Bembo’s Travel Journal, Artibus et Historiae,December 2017, 157–180.

  • The Erotics of Looking: Netherlandish Visual Culture, co-edited with Angela Vanhaelen. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
  • “Social Networking: the album amicorum and early modern public-making.” In Oltre la sfera pubblica/ Beyond the public sphere: opinions, publics, spaces in Early Modern Europe, edited by Massimo Rospocher. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012, 1-19.
  • “Francesco Lupazzolo’s Isolario (1638): the Aegean Archipelago and Early Modern Historical Anthropology.” In Venice in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Patricia Fortini Brown, edited by Blake de Maria and Mary Frank. Milan: Five Continents, 2012, 186-99.
  • “Visual Knowledge/Facing Blindness.” In Seeing Across Cultures: Visualities in the Early Modern Period, edited by Dana Leibsohn and Jeanette Peterson. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012, 97-123.
  • “Bedroom Politics: The Vexed Spaces of Late Medieval Public Making. In Publicity and Privacy in Early Modern Europe: Reflections on Michael McKeon’s Secret History of Domesticity.” History Compass 10, 9 (2012), 608–21.
  • “The Appeal of Horror: Francesco Cairo’s Herodias and the Head of John the Baptist.” Oxford Art Journal 34, 3 (2011), 355-72.
  • Making Publics in Early Modern Europe: people, things, and forms of knowledge, co-edited with Paul Yachnin. New York: Routledge, 2010.
  • “Foggie diverse di vestire de’Turchi”: Turkish costume illustration and cultural translation.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern History 37, 1 (2007), 95-138.
  • “Venice, Print, and the Early Modern Icon.” Urban History 33, 1 (2006), 39-64.
  • The World in Venice: Print, the City, and Early Modern Identity. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005 (winner of the Roland H. Bainton prize for Art History in 2006).



  • Visual Knowledge and Early Modern Globalization (1450-1650) (seminar): Studies the impact of an expanding image of the world on European artists and patrons by examining new artifacts and visual imagery (still lifes, kunstkammer objects, automata, illuminated books, travel imagery), representational practices (naturalism, drawing, metalwork, ceramics, cartography, print), and systems of classification (cabinets of curiosity, morphology, printed books).
  • Portraiture and the Politics of the Face in Early Modern Europe (1450-1650) (seminar): Considers work by a wide range of artists from Albrecht Dürer to Sofonisba Anguissola, and from Bronzino to the Carracci, exploring themes such as self-portraiture and embodiment, realism, ethics, and anthropomorphic images.
  • Italian Renaissance Art and Culture (1400-1500) (lecture): With an emphasis on the body and space, this course explores ways in which painting, sculpture, and architecture participated in forging new social and political alliances in Florence and other centers on the peninsula.
  • Italian Renaissance Art and Culture (1500-1600) (lecture): Explores the visual, material, and urban culture of Italy that was shaped by the increasingly authority of the courts, the discovery of worlds previously unknown to Europeans, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and the rising status of the artist.
  • The Visual Culture of Renaissance Venice (lecture): Focuses on the distinctive pictorial conventions and innovative strategies developed by artists and architects from the Bellini to Titian and from Mauro Codussi to Andrea Palladio. The course also considers the city’s utopic character manifested in its topography, its festivals, and its claims to liberty and licentiousness.
  • The Spaces of Venice (taught in Venice): Considers the dynamic relation between the city’s urban spaces, architecture, its interior decoration, and their civic functions. Topics include Piazza San Marco, the parish church, the bridge, the fondaco (a warehouse for religious and ethnic groups), and the Jewish Ghetto.



  • Early Modern Vision and Visuality: Interests in the possibilities and limits of vision come to the fore in the early modern period in response to encounters with unfamiliar specimens, experiments with perspective and lenses, witchcraft, and religious conflict. The seminar examines accompanying artistic engagement with modes of representation and new forms of visual imagery.
  • Early modern Landscape and Temporality: Taking the emergence of landscape as an independent genre during the sixteenth century as its point of departure, this seminar examines a wide range of images and media—maritime views, gardens, topographical imagery, anthropomorphic landscapes, lunar landscapes, mazes—alongside readings that probe our understandings of space and time.
  • The Face in the Image: portraits, embodiment, and faciality in early modern Europe: Examining the visual culture of the face and the body, the seminar inquires into the nature of portraiture and its terms of reference when the very meanings of identity were being redrawn.
  • Things and Paths: Engaging with things and their movements prompts a reconsideration of concepts such as agency, migration, appropriation, resistance, translation, publics, and other ways in which things that matter gathered people together, or divided them. Focusing on the mobility of works of art and forms of knowledge in the early modern period, the seminar develops new ways of thinking about artifacts combined within a work (still life, genre painting), things arranged in places (collections, markets, museums), and things that move (sketchbooks, albums, processions).
  • The Politics of Materiality and Matters of the Bio-political: Addresses both the material turn in cultural and visual studies, and also the role media, performativity, and psychoanalysis play in reconfiguring the manner in which the self and other biological forms are socially constructed, phantasmatically imagined, and physically represented.