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Benedetta Pacini

PhD Thesis: Navigating the Canals: Making and Moving Venetian Renaissance Paintings


Dr. Louise Bourdua and Dr. Giorgio Tagliaferro (University of Warwick),

Dr. Matthias Wivel and Dr. Susan Foister (National Gallery of London).

Research Summary

My PhD is a Collaborative Doctoral Award project between the University of Warwick and the National Gallery of London. My research focuses on the large-scale Venetian Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery of London, in order to shed light on how they were transported from the painter’s workshop to their destination. Handling a large painting, in fact, must have been particularly challenging in Venice, since the city's unique physical environment posed special practical problems to painters and artisans. I investigate Venetian paintings dated to the fifteenth and sixteenth century: in this timeframe the binding agent evolved from egg to oil, and the support shifted from wood to canvas. I investigate whether these technical changes were made to minimise practical problems during transport or installation.

Previous Training

I took my BA and my MA in History of Art at the University of Florence.

In my BA thesis I studied the fifteenth-century frescoes in the ‘Oratory of the Virgin’ in Serravalle Pistoiese, near Pistoia (Tuscany). In particular, I considered the Oratory as an expression of the penitential movement known as ‘Battuti Bianchi’, that was active in that area at the time. I put the frescoes’ iconography in relation to the features and the function of the building.

For my Master’s Thesis, I worked on miniatures. I studied Marino Sanudo the Elder and the Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis, in particular ms. Tanner 190, Bodleian Library, Oxford. I identified and analysed the work of two different painters who worked on the manuscript, relating the peculiarities of the Tanner 190 to other examples of the Liber that I inspected in various European libraries.

Work Experience

Research Assistant, Villa Lante Project, Oxford (July - December 2014): I was part of a team devoted to organise an ancient Italian archive (the Lante family), preserved in the Bodleian Library.

Internship in the Diocese Offices, Pistoia (Jan-Mar 2013 ): I conducted archival research, inspections of religious buildings, assessment of historic and artistic relevance.



The “Deposition from the Cross” by Benozzo Gozzoli and workshop, Seminar of History of Medieval Art, Horne Museum, Florence (May 2011).

Other webpages


Email: ***



Visualising Venice Summer School 2016, Certificate issued by professor Caroline Bruzelius.