Patricia Fortini Brown

Professor Emeritus


Patricia Fortini Brown, formerly chair of the Department of Art & 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). She delivered the Edward J. Olszewski Lecture in Italian Art at Case Western Reserve University  (2014) and the Sydney Freedberg Lecture in Italian Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016). Brown was awarded the Paul Oscar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award by the Renaissance Society of America in 2020. She has served on the Board of Trustees of Save Venice, Inc. since 2004.

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

A book, and possibly an exhibition, tentatively entitled Venice Outside Venice a multicultural empire, deals with the artistic and cultural geography of the Venetian empire (comprising cities of the terraferma and the stato da mar). 


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1983

Selected Publications


The Venetian Bride: Bloodlines and Blood Feuds in Venice and its Empire (Oxford University Press, 2021)

Carpaccio in Venice: A Guide, edited by Gabriele Matino and Patricia Fortini Brown (Venice: Marsilio Editori & Save Venice, 2020) [Italian ed: Carpaccio a Venezia: itinerari]

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

Art and Life in Renaissance Venice (Pearson, 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)

Recent articles

“The Other Francesco Morosini,” Artibus et historiae, no. 84 (XLII), 2021, 149-194.

“The Chosen City,” in Venetia 1600. Births and rebirths, ed. Robert Echols, Frederick Ilchman, Gabriele Matino, Andrea Bellieni, Milan: Consorzio Museum Musei, 2021, 32-40.

“La città eletta,” in Venetia 1600: Nascite e Rinascite, ed. Robert Echols, Frederick Ilchman, Gabriele Matino, Andrea Bellieni, Milan: Consorzio Museum Musei, 2021, 32-40.

Review of Erin Maglaque, Venice’s Intimate Empire: Family Life and Scholarship in the Renaissance Mediterranean, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2018, in Journal of Early Modern History 23:6 (2019): 569-571

“Vain Legislation Against Vana Ostentazione: Sumptuary Laws in the Venetian Dominion,” Artibus et Historiae, no. 76 (XXXVIII), 2017: 53-76.

Italian Renaissance
Home Department and Other Affiliations
Art & Archaeology
Hellenic Studies