Job title: Professor of Renaissance Visual and Material Cultures

Role: Director of Undergraduate Assessment

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4112


Office address: Hunter Building, Room 0.59

Research outputs: Prof Jill Burke on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Jill's a historian of the body and its visual representation, focussing on Italy and Europe 1400-1700. Currently she's investigating how people in the Renaissance tried to look good - how they sought to change their bodies, faces and hairstyles to meet beauty ideals. She's finishing a book, How to Be a Renaissance Woman that will be out next year. Jill's frequently acted as a consultant for various companies about renaissance cosmetics and personal hygiene, and is also working on a website and educational resource that will show the public how to make renaissance cosmetic recipes. 

Her previous book, The Italian Renaissance Nude (2018) was selected for Choice's 2019 Outstanding Academic Titles list, and reviewed as "essential" and a "keystone for future studies". Jill also co-edited The Renaissance Nude, the catalogue for the exhibition of the same name in Los Angeles and London in 2018-19, and was on the curatorial team of this exhibition. She's talked about nudes on TV, radio and podcasts - links below. She's also got a well-regarded research blog.

​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. ​

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).

Current PhD students

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; 
  • experimental history, remaking
  • topics relating to ideas of art and art patronage, 15th-17th centuries