Malcolm Bull

Malcolm Bull

Robert Lehman Visiting Professor
Studies in Italian Painting circa 1700


Malcolm Bull is Professor of Art and the History of Ideas at the University of Oxford and a Senior Associate Research Fellow of Christ Church. He has been a visiting professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Complutense University, Madrid, and the University of Manchester. His books include The Mirror of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Renaissance Art (OUP/Penguin 2005; Italian tr. Einaudi, 2015) and Inventing Falsehood, Making Truth: Vico and Neapolitan Painting (Princeton University Press, 2013). He is currently one of the editors of Oxford Art Journal. Beyond art history, his most recent book is On Mercy (Princeton University Press, 2019), an essay in political philosophy.

Project Summary

Existing scholarship on eighteenth-century Italian art concentrates on Rome and the legacy of neoclassicism in France and Britain, effectively orientating the history of the period toward the modern. But although visitors from northern Europe were fixated on Rome, the two most innovative artistic centers in Italy were Naples and Venice. This opposition has never been systematically studied, and a particular focus of this project will therefore be a comparison between these two traditions in painting, and an examination of the ways they were exported both within Italy and beyond. Focusing on Naples and Venice helps to reconfigure the artistic geography of eighteenth-century Europe as a whole, in an arc that extends from Madrid to Naples, and from Venice to Vienna and St Petersburg. While in Florence, Prof. Bull will be looking at frescoes by Luca Giordano and Sebastiano Ricci.