Patricia Fortini Brown  Professor Emeritus


Patricia Fortini Brown

Professor EmeritusRenaissance Art


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1983

Patricia Fortini Brown, formerly chair of the Department of Art and Archaeology (1999–2005), taught Italian Renaissance art at Princeton since 1983 and retired in 2010. Venice and its empire, from the late Middle Ages through the early modern period, has been the primary site of her scholarly research, with a focus on how works of art and architecture can materialize and sum up significant aspects of the culture in which they were produced.

Brown’s research has been supported by a number of fellowships including a Fulbright grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, a Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship, and Delmas grants for research in Venice. She has lectured widely, and her books have received a number of awards: Venetian Narrative Painting in the Age of Carpaccio was a finalist for the Premio “Salotto Veneto 89” (1989); Venice & Antiquity was awarded the Phyllis Goodhart Gordon Book Prize (Renaissance Society of America, 1998) and was a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Prize (College Art Association, 1999); Private Lives in Renaissance Venice was also a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Prize (2005) and the Premio Salimbeni per La Storia e la Critica d’Arte (2006).

Brown was Slade Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Cambridge (2001), president of the Renaissance Society of America (2000–2), and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (2004–7). Named Italian American Woman of the Year by the Museo Italo Americano, San Francisco (1992), she was elected a corresponding fellow of the Ateneo Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (2010) and awarded the Serena Medal in Italian Studies by the British Academy (2011). Brown currently serves on the board of trustees of Save Venice.

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Teaching Interests

In addition to teaching a variety of courses on Italian Renaissance art and culture, Brown taught seminars on Mediterranean studies sponsored by the Program in Hellenic Studies with student trips to Crete, Corfu, and Rhodes. Graduate students writing dissertations under her supervision have pursued themes relating to Venetian art (ranging from patronage to painting to portraiture) and on art and architecture in Siena, Florence, Rome, and Ragusa, as well as on the trade in antiquities between Italy and the eastern Mediterranean and post-Byzantine art in Venetian and Ottoman territories.

Current Research

Brown is currently working on two books. The Venetian Bride is a microhistory centering on the marriage of the Friulian noble Girolamo Della Torre and Giulia Bembo, the daughter of a Venetian patrician. A larger project, tentatively titled Venice Outside Venice, deals with the artistic and cultural geography of the Venetian empire (comprising cities of the terraferma and the stato da mar).

Selected Publications

“Becoming a Man of Empire: The Construction of Patrician Identity in a Republic of Equals,” in Architecture, Art and Identity in Venice and Its Territories, 1450–1750, ed. Nebahat Avcioğlu and Emma Jones (Ashgate, 2014).

“A Death in Venice: The Forgotten Tomb of Alvise Della Torre,” Artibus et Historiae 67 (XXXIV) (2013).

“Where the Money Flows: Art Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Venice,” in Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice, ed. Frederick Ilchman (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2009).

“The Exemplary Life of Giulia Bembo Della Torre,” in Philanagnostes: Studi in onore di Marino Zorzi, ed. Chryssa Maltezou, Peter Schreiner, and Margherita Losacco (Istituto Ellenico di Studi Bizantini e Postbizantini, 2008).

“Le antichità,” in Commercio e cultura mercantile, ed. Franco Franceschi, Richard A. Goldthwaite, and Reinhold Christopher Mueller, volume 4 of Il Rinascimento italiano e l’Europa (Fondazione Cassamarca and Angelo Colla Editore, 2007).

Private Lives in Renaissance Venice: Art, Architecture, and the Family (Yale University Press, 2004).

“Carpaccio’s St. Augustine in His Study: A Portrait within a Portrait,” in Augustine in Iconography: History and Legend, ed. Joseph C. Schnaubelt and Frederick Van Fleteren (Peter Lang Publishing, 1999).

Art and Life in Renaissance Venice (Harry N. Abrams, 1997).

Venice & Antiquity: The Venetian Sense of the Past (Yale University Press, 1996).

Venetian Narrative Painting in the Age of Carpaccio (Yale University Press, 1988).