Joanne Anderson

Convenor MA Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture

Research Interests
Medieval to early modern art and visual culture | Mary Magdalen | Landscape and environment
 Workshop practice | Gender and patronage | Exhibition history


Joanne Anderson is lecturer in Art History at the Warburg Institute. Her current research is engaged with the agency of art and landscape, focusing on the Alps during the pre- and early modern periods. She is a specialist on the imagery of Mary Magdalen in Europe, working with paintings, altarpieces, prints and glass. Artistic exchange, the circulation of visual types and environmental conditions inform her work about visual culture and the geographies of art history and particularly the concept of Kunstlandschaft, which originates from pre- and inter war German discourse on the relation of art to its native territory by means of a unified style but has since developed to encompass other shared criteria. Alongside her major projects, Joanne is working on the interstices of generic portrait prints and mural paintings in the fashioning of specific political and gender identities. Her research expertise on the Alps and its cultural production also informs an edited series of articles on art, travel and geography, which borrow its title, Artistic Exchange in Unexpected Quarters, from Aby Warburg's 1905 essay. When not wearing her ‘early person’ hat, Joanne works on exhibition history with a particular interest in issues of migration and fragmentation.

PhD Supervision and Post-doctoral Researchers

Joanne welcomes research projects that connect with any of her research areas and interests, detailed above and below. She is currently co-supervising three MPhil/PhD students:

  • Lydia Goodson, ‘Umbrian Patrons 1480-1510: a Study in the Dynamics of Regional Patronage’
  • Julia Martins, ‘“Secrets of Women”: Female Fertility from Italian Books of Secrets to English Midwifery Manuals (1555-1700)’
  • Genevieve Verdigel, ‘Benedetto Montagna’s Graphic Oeuvre’ (LAHP-funded)

In October 2017, three new students will begin MPhil/PhD research:

  • Gemma Cornetti, The Social Life of Early Modern Italian Portrait Prints (LAHP-funded)
  • Allegra Baggio Corradi, ‘The Aesthetic Laboratory: Art, Religion and Philosophy in Renaissance Padua’  (LAHP-funded)
  • Sarah Coviello, ‘Professional passions: Anglophone and Italian Art Historians as Collectors, Patrons and Philanthropists’



Mary Magdalen

Joanne’s doctoral thesis on Mary Magdalen has been incorporated into her monograph, entitled Moving with the Magdalen: Late Medieval Art and Devotion in the Alps (Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming 2017-18). It focuses on the importance of the mountains to Mary Magdalen’s cult and contingent imagery found in networked sites across the Alpine arc. By examining the relationship between the high cult sites in France and the numerous churches and chapels across the Alps dedicated to the saint, she not only recasts Mary Magdalen as pilgrim and parish saint but also argues for iconography as a means to reconciling micro and macro histories. This book follows on the back of a number of articles in books and journals that explore connections to pilgrimage, religious theatre and female patronage in the cross-cultural Alps.













Joanne’s new research project focuses on art in the landscape, proposing a new way of approaching images and objects from the standpoint of experiential experience. She is particularly in interested in how environment and time influences the production, function and perception of art produced for Alpine communities as linked to the seasonal migrations of artistic workshops. The project springs from her work in the Alps and questions raised whilst travelling on foot in the mountains, during varying weather conditions.

Exhibition History

Alongside her own research project on the touring exhibition, Frescoes from Florence/The Great Age of Fresco which focuses on logistics, education and reception, Joanne is a co-organiser of the interdisciplinary research project, A Vision for Europe: British Art and the Mediterranean, with Johannes von Müller (Bilderfahrzeuge Project) and Mick Finch (Central St Martins, University of the Arts). More information can be found at:


Joanne joined the Warburg Institute in 2015 and is convener of the MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture, offered in collaboration with London’s National Gallery. She contributes to the teaching programme and supervises dissertations covering a wide range of topics. She sits on the committees of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory at the Institute of Modern Language Research and the Research Skills Intercollegiate Network (ReSkIN) and is a subject area representative for the LAHP; she is also a member of the Cities@SAS initiative. Joanne previously worked as a lecturer in art history at Birkbeck (2014-15), the University of Sussex (2013-14) and the University of Warwick (2009-2013), the latter period including her role as editorial assistant of The Art Bulletin (CAA, New York).

MA (Hons), English and History of Art, University of Aberdeen
MA, History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art
PhD, History of Art, University of Warwick


Public Engagement

Joanne welcomes research collaborations and public outreach opportunities. She has featured on BBC R4 and written blog posts on contemporary resonances with her historical research. Recently she co-organised the Origins of Art lectures series, with Hans Christian Hönes (Bilderfahrzeuge Project) and contributed to Ways of Seeing across disciplines, a conference organised by Manos Tsakiris who leads the BIAS Project at the Warburg Institute.


Joanne teaches the Term 1 core module, Image to Action, which introduces all MA students to the subject matters of art in the period 1300-1700 and the methods and approaches taken to put them into context, making use of key primary and secondary sources held in our library.

In Term 2, she offers a module on Italian Mural Painting and the Making of Visual Cultures which focuses on the making and meaning of 15th-century frescoes and, in the latter weeks, their reception history; seminar topics include, materials and techniques, workshop practice, miraculous murals, performing chivalric culture, and museums and moving walls.

In term 3, Joanne supervises dissertation appropriate to her research interests and expertise.




Moving with the Magdalen: Late Medieval Art and Devotion in the Alps (Bloomsbury Academic, under contract 2017/18)


‘Arming the Alps through Art: Saints, Knights and Bandits on the Early Modern Roads’ in Travel and Conflict in the Early Modern World, eds Gabor Gelleri and Rachel Willie (Routledge, forthcoming 2018)

‘Mary Magdalen and the Imagery of Redemption: Reception and Revival in Fifteenth-Century Tyrol,’ Predella. Journal of the Visual Arts, 35 (2015), special issue: ‘The Survival of the Trecento in the Fifteenth Century’ (

 ‘St. Magdalena in Rentsch bei Bozen: Ein neuer Vorschlag zur Auftraggeberschaft im 14. Jahrhundert,’ in Der Schlern 88 (2014), pp. 40-44

 ‘Mary Magdalene and Her Dear Sister: Innovation in the Late Medieval Mural Cycle of Santa Maddalena in Rencio (Bolzano)’, in Mary Magdalene: Iconographic Studies from the Middle Ages to the Baroque, eds Michelle A. Erhardt and Amy M. Morris (Brill, Oct 2012), pp. 45-74

‘Devotional and Artistic Responses to the Cult of Mary Magdalen in Trentino-Alto Adige, c.1300-c.1500: The Case of Cusiano’ in Visible Exports / Imports. New Research on Medieval and Renaissance European Art and Culture, eds Emily Jane Anderson, Jill Farquhar and John Richards (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), pp. 161-80



Lisa Pon, ‘A Printed Icon in Early Modern Italy: Forlı’s Madonna of the Fire’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), review for Renaissance Quarterly 69:3 (2016), pp. 1051-1052


Blog posts:



BBC R4 In Our Time. Mary Magdalene: