Francesca Fiorani

Francesca Fiorani

Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Fine Arts Research

Competition: US & Canada

University of Virginia

Francesca Fiorani is an Associate Professor of Art History, specializing in Italian Renaissance art, at the University of Virginia; she has been a faculty member there since 1997. A native of Rome, Italy, Ms. Fiorani was educated at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” receiving her B.A. (1986), M.A. (1990), and Ph.D. (1994) from that institution. During her years of graduate study, she was an associate curator for special exhibitions and programs at the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna in Rome. After receiving her Ph.D., she spent part of 1995 as a postdoctoral Fellow at the Folger Library. Since her appointment at the University of Virginia, she has also been a postdoctoral Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library (2004).

Among her influential publications are “Maps, Politics and the Grand Duke of Florence. The Sala della Guardaroba Nuova of Cosimo I de’ Medici,” in Renaissance Representations of the Prince. Basilike Eikon, ed. Roy Eriksen and Magne Malmanger (2001); and “Painted Map Cycles in the Renaissance,” in History of Cartography. Volume III: The Renaissance, ed. David Woodward (Chicago UP, 2007). Her monograph The Marvel of Maps. Art, Cartography and Politics in Renaissance Italy (Yale UP, 2005; Italian trans.: Franco Cosimo Panini, 2009), which was written with the support of a postdoctoral Fellowship from the Getty Center, and ACLS and NEH research Fellowships, received Special Mention in the 2006 Premio Salimbeni per la Storia e la Critica d’Arte awarded by the President of Italy. Her article “Renaissance Mapping, Ancient Geographical Knowledge and Modern Voyages” will appear in the forthcoming Cambridge Guide to the Italian Renaissance.

Within the larger field of Italian Renaissance art, Ms. Fiorani has established herself as a particular expert on Leonardo da Vinci, and has earned high marks domestically and internationally for her innovative, interdisciplinary studies of that iconic artist. One of her abiding interests is Leonardo’s extensive—and for an artist of that time, unprecedented—study of optics. She has explored this facet of this topic in such articles as “The Theory of Shadow Projection and Aerial Perspective. Leonardo, Desargues and Bosse,” in Desargues en son temps, ed. J. Dhombres and J. Sakarovitch (1994); “The Colors of Leonardo’s Shadows,” Leonardo. The International Society of the Arts, Sciences and Technologies, 3, No. 41 (2008); and, most recently, “The Shadows of Leonardo’s Annunciation and their Lost Legacy,” in From Renovatio to Reform. Imitation, Representation and Printing in the Italian Renaissance, ed. Roy Eriksen (Rome: Fabrizio Serra Ed., 2009). During her Guggenheim Fellowship term, she will be completing Leonardo’s Shadows, a kind of capstone to her years of research, in which she will examine the artist’s sfumato from the vantage points of painting technique, science, and natural philosophy.

Francesca Fiorani also directs the digital archive Leonardo da Vinci and His Treatise on Painting, which documents the influence of Leonardo’s "Trattato della Pittura," his only text that was widely circulated up to the early nineteenth century and is responsible for disseminating his artistic theory.


Spouse: Alon Confino, Guggenheim Fellow in German and East European History, 2011

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