Italian Altarpieces in Context: Spatial and Material Environments for Sacred Art in the Renaissance Church Interior AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) with the National Gallery

The Department of History of Art at the University of Warwick and the National Gallery, London invite applications for a three-year AHRC funded collaborative doctoral studentship to begin in October 2012. Drawing on the National Gallery’s superlative collection of Renaissance religious painting, the project will investigate the historic conditions of display for painted altarpieces in Italian churches.

Renaissance altarpieces displayed in gallery spaces are fundamentally dislocated from their original contexts. As well as the secularisation of setting, these images have lost a wealth of physical paraphernalia that circumscribed their visibility for Renaissance audiences (material trappings which have traditionally been passed over by art historical research). By gathering together disparate information from published and unpublished sources, the project aims to clarify a range of perceptual factors that regulated viewing for Renaissance audiences (natural lighting conditions, artificial lighting technology, veiling practices, the surrounding colours and textures of the Renaissance church interior).

The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr Donal Cooper (University of Warwick) and Carol Plazzotta (Myojin Curator of 16th Century Italian paintings, National Gallery). Applicants should be holders of a good first degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent). A relevant Masters degree, completed or close to completion, is also expected. A background in the Renaissance period will be advantageous, as will knowledge of Italian and/or Latin, and experience of working with relevant primary sources.

The successful candidate will meet the AHRC's criteria for eligibility, including residency criteria and be able to demonstrate the potential to develop advanced research skills. The award pays tuition fees and a maintenance grant each year (£14,140 in 2012-13) for a maximum of three years of full-time doctoral study, subject to evidence of satisfactory progress.

All candidates must apply via the University of Warwick's online postgraduate admission system. You will need to submit personal details and those of two academic referees. In addition you should upload a CV and a response to the project proposal, including relevant experience and particular interests (two pages maximum). Please specify ‘AHRC CDA studentship on Italian Altarpieces’ in the section of the form under the funding being sought.

Further particulars are available to download here.

For informal enquiries, please contact Donal Cooper at

The deadline for the receipt of applications is 5pm on Friday 20 July 2012. We anticipate interviewing shortlisted candidates at the National Gallery in London on Tuesday 31 July 2012.