Job title: Professor of Renaissance Visual and Material Cultures

Role: Programme Director, History of Art, Theory and Display - MSc

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4112


Office address: Hunter Building, Room 0.59

Research outputs: Prof Jill Burke on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Jill Burke is a leading international expert in Italian Renaissance Art. Her research and teaching focuses on the representation and understanding of the body in Italy and Europe from around 1400-1600 and she has published widely in this field. Her latest monograph, The Italian Renaissance Nude, was published with Yale University Press in 2018, and she was one of the curators of the Renaissnace Nude exhibition which took place in Los Angeles and London 2018-19, including co-editing the catalogue for this show.  Jill won the Philip Leverhulme prize for her "outstanding" contribution to art history, and has also held a fellowship at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti, Florence).

Previous to working on subjects relating to the body, Jill's work has focused on topics relating to social identity and the visual arts. Her interest in periodization led to her edited book, Rethinking the High Renaissance (Routledge, 2012); her interest in patronage and identity was discussed in her first monograph which was based on extensive archival research - Changing Patrons: Social Identity and the Visual Arts in Renaissance Florence (2004). Perhaps her happiest research moment was stumbling across a previously unknown scribbled note on the back of a receipt from 1509 describing a robot lion made by Leonardo da Vinci. The subsequent article "Meaning and Crisis in the Early Sixteenth Century" was published in Oxford Art Journal (2006).

​Jill's teaching is directly derived from her research. She currently teaches one 3rd year course "Looking at Women in Renaissance Art" that considers women both as makers and as people represented in European art 1400-1600. Her fourth-year honours class, "The Renaissance Body" is an interdisciplinary feast of nudes, monsters and innards, considering how the body in representation reflects and informs understandings of corporality in this period. At MSc level, "Art and Sexuality in Renaissance Italy" considers the role of homoeroticism, courtesan culture and desire in Renaissance visual representation. ​

Jill's groundbreaking and politically-engaged research seeks to reformulate the understanding of the representation of the body in Italian (and wider European) early modern culture, c. 1400-1600. Her current work focuses on the relationship between visual culture and the depiction of the naked body. Having finished her monograph on the Italian Renaissance Nude (the only book on this subject in English, published 2018), she is now considering how images of nudes affected the way people understood the health and beauty of their own and others' bodies. She is working with a group of international scholars turning their focus to the surfaces of the body and has recently started publishing in this area. 

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

Renaissance visual and material culture, especially Italian, with a focus on: 

  • gender and the body; 
  • representation in medical texts; body modification - tattoos, cosmetics, shaping the body through diet and exercise; 
  • topics relating to ideas of art and art patronage, 15th-17th centuries