Lorenza Gay

PhD Student

PhD Student


Depictions of the Pagan Gods in the Late Middle Ages

Supervisors - Dr Paul Taylor / Dr Rembrandt Duits


My PhD research focuses on the depiction of pagan gods in French illuminated manuscripts in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. I hope to offer a contribution to our understanding on how and why the gods were portrayed as they were in this chronological period. The works which form the main corpus of sources are:

— the Chronologia Magna by Paolino Veneziano, and the Occitan translation of the same text known as the Abruejamens de las estorias
— the Ovide Moralisé
— the Ovidius Moralizatus by Pierre Bersuire
— the anonymous French translation of Boccaccio’s De Claris Mulieribus, entitled Des cleres et nobles femmes
— Laurent de Premierfait’s translation of Boccaccio’s De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, entitled Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes
— Raoul des Presles’ French translation of St Augustine’s De Civitate Dei (Cité de Dieu)
— the Epistre Othea by Christine de Pizan.


In 2014 I completed my postgraduate studies in Art History and Renaissance Culture and Curatorship at the Warburg Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, London. Prior to this I obtained a Masters degree in Art History and Archaeology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, which gave me a comprehensive training in the different disciplines, from ancient art to contemporary art. I graduated summa cum laude, with a dissertation on the iconography of Isis in fifteenth-century Italy. Before that I have obtained my BA degree in History and Cultural Heritage at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

In 2013 I worked at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, in Milan, as curatorial assistant. I helped with the organization of various exhibitions closely following various organizational aspects; in particular the loaning of art objects in coordination with other international and Italian institutions who took part in the project and the exhibition catalogue.

From 2015 to 2017, I was research assistant to Professor David Freedberg, at that time the Director of the Warburg Institute.  

I have recently been appointed to the position of Academic Assistant in the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection, funded by a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, for a fixed term ending in January 2019. In the past few years I have been collaborating with the Warburg Institute Archive by researching the original photographs of the Mnemosyne Atlas.

Furthermore, I am also the co-organiser of the Annual Postgraduate Symposium of The Warburg Institute and I am co-editing last year’s conference proceedings (see below, PUBLICATIONS). I have been Warburg Institute Student Representative for two years (2014-2016) and I am currently the student representative at the Warburg Institute Advisory Council (until August 2018). 


2017-2018   Yvonne Hackenbrock Student Support Fund

2016-2017   Saxl Fund Trustees Doctoral Bursary

2015-2016   Saxl Fund Trustees Doctoral Bursary


Since starting my PhD research at The Warburg Institute I have offered tutorials to the postgraduate students in Italian Palaeography. The tutorials are organised as frontal classes, for which I prepare different practical exercises as well as more theoretical lessons, in order to successfully complement the classes held by the main lecturer. The range of texts we work on varies and includes private and formal letters, manuscripts and legal documents (all dated between 1300-1600).


2017, ‘Deos Homines Fuisse? Illuminations of the Pagan Gods in French Medieval Manuscripts’, (16 June), LAMPS Conference, The University of Edinburgh, UK.

 2017,‘ Juno in the Epistre d’Othéa’, The Warburg Institute Director’s Work in Progress Seminar (1 March), London, UK.

2016, ‘Identifying with the Past? Depictions of the Pagan Goddesses in Boccaccio’s Des Cleres Femmes (1401–1470)’, Sixteenth Century Society Conference (18–20 August), Bruges, Belgium.

2016, ‘A new dating of the Waddesdon Manor manuscript of the Epistre d’Othéa’, The Warburg Institute Research Seminar (16 May), London, UK.

2015, ‘Gold, Crimson and Ivory: the Ideal Female Beauty and its Material Culture in 16th Century Italy and France’, The Body out of Time and Without a Place, Vilnius Academy of the Arts (21-22 May), Vilnius, Lithuania.


2018 (forthcoming), ‘Juno in the Epistre Othéa: an investigation of the pictorial antecedents and of the literary sources’, in: Cultural Encounters. Cross-disciplinary studies from the Late Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, ed. J. Christie, L. Gay, F. Schulze-Feldmann et al. (New York: Vernon Press, 2018)

2016, ‘Gold, Crimson and Ivory: the Ideal Female Beauty and its Material Culture in 16th Century Italy and France’, Acta Academiae artium Vilnensis, vol. 80–81, 2016, pp. 35-41.


2018 - The Festival of Writing and Ideas, literary festival, 8-10 June, Borris, Co. Carlow, Ireland (organisational assistant).

2017 - The Warburg Institute Postgraduate Symposium, Singular Acts: The Role of the Individual in the Transformation of Collective Culture, 16 November, The Warburg Institute, London.

2016 - The Warburg Institute Postgraduate Symposium, Cultural Encounters: Tensions and Polarities of Transmission from the Late Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, 17 November, The Warburg Institute, London.