One of a select group of Renaissance art historians from West Yorkshire, I’m now Professor of Renaissance Visual and Material Cultures at the University of Edinburgh. I went to Benton Park School near Leeds, then was mercilessly mocked for my northern accent during a History degree at Trinity College Oxford, followed by an MA and PhD in Art History at the Courtauld Institute. After a year at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, I came to Edinburgh for a postdoctoral research position in 2003, and never left. Along the way I attained two sons, a daft dog and a disdainful cat.
I’ve published widely on Italian renaissance visual culture, including monographs on Florentine renaissance art patronage and the Italian Renaissance Nude (now only available in digital form). My next book, on Renaissance beauty culture and the birth of feminism, will be out in June 2023 with Wellcome/Profile.
I also had a brilliant (and eye-opening) time on the curatorial teams of the Beauty By Design exhibition (Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Shanghai Museum of Textiles), and the Renaissance Nude exhibition (John Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles and Royal Academy, London). I’ve also been lucky enough to give public talks for universities, galleries and museums in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US, and advise all sorts of people and institutions – from advertising agencies to playwrights to novelists to cosmetics companies – about renaissance art, beauty and hygiene practices.
When I’m not doing Renaissance-related stuff, I’m reading novels, going to the pub or tussling with zombies and cowboys on the Playstation.