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Michelle O'Malley

Emeritus Professor

Research Interests: Production, technique, authorship and quality | Historicising quality | Workshop practice | Period understanding of workshops and pictures | Early modern material culture


Michelle O'Malley is Emeritus Professor at the Warburg Institute. She holds degrees in the History of Art from Newton College of the Sacred Heart (BA), Boston University (MA), and the Warburg Institute, University of London (PhD). In 1998 she headed the Centre for Research in the History of Art, Sussex University, arriving from the position of the Head of Education for Exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. She held a number of research leadership positions in the Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex from 1998-2014. She was the Head of the Art History Department from 2010 to 2014 and the Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the School of History, Art History and Philosophy at Sussex in 2014-2015.  Professor O'Malley was the Head of the Art History Department from 2010 to 2014 and in 2014-2015 was the Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the School of History, Art History and Philosophy. In 2013 - 2016 she was the Director of Research Staff Development for the University of Sussex.

From 2000-2004 she ran, with Evelyn Welch, the AHRC- and Getty-funded Material Renaissance Project and from 2008 to 2010 she held a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship award. In 2015 - 2016 she was a Research Fellow at the National Humanities Centre, in North Carolina.

Selected publications


O'Malley, Michelle  (2015) ‘Responding to changing taste and demand: Botticelli after 1490’ in Sandro Botticelli artist and entrepreneur in Renaissance Florence, eds Irene Mariani and Gert Jan van der Sman, Florence, Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell’Arte; Florence: Centro Di, 2015, 101-119.

O'Malley, Michelle (2014) Quality choices in the production of Renaissance art: Botticelli and demand. Journal of Renaissance Studies, 28 (1). pp. 4-32. ISSN 0269-1213

O'Malley, Michelle (2010) A pair of little gilded shoes: production, cost and meaning in Renaissance footwear. Renaissance Quarterly, 63 (1). pp. 45-83. ISSN 0034-4338

O'Malley, Michelle (2010) Finding fame: painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy. Renaissance Studies, 24 (1). pp. 9-32. ISSN 0269-1213

O'Malley, Michelle (2007) Quality, demand, and the pressures of reputation: rethinking Perugino. Art Bulletin 89 (4). pp. 674-693. ISSN 0004-3079

Plazzotta, Carol, O'Malley, Michelle, Roy, Ashok, White, Raymond and Wyld, Martin (2006) Perugino's Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis for Santa Maria dei Servi, Perugia. National Gallery Technical Bulletin 27. pp. 72-95. ISSN 0140-7430

O'Malley, Michelle (2005) Altarpieces and agency: the altarpiece of the society of purification and its 'invisible skein of relations'. Art History 28 (4). pp. 416-441. ISSN 0141-6790


O'Malley, Michelle (2013) Painting under pressure: Fame, Reputation and Demand in Renaissance Florence. Yale University Press, New Haven. ISBN 9780300197976

O'Malley, Michelle (2005) The Business of Art: Contracts and the Commissioning Process in Renaissance Italy. Yale University Press, New Haven and London. ISBN 9780300104387

Book Section

O'Malley, Michelle (2015) Responding to changing taste and demand: Botticelli after 1490. In: Mariani, Irene and Van der Sman, Gert Jan (eds.) Sandro Botticelli artist and entrepreneur in Renaissance Florence. Centro Di, Florence. ISBN 9788870385373

O'Malley, Michelle (2007) Perugino and the contingency of value. In: O'Malley, Michelle and Welch, Evelyn (eds.) The Material Renaissance. Studies in Design & Material Culture . Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 106-130. ISBN 9780719076572

O'Malley, Michelle, Milner, SJ and Campbell, S (2004) Subject matters: contracts, designs and the exchange of ideas between painters and clients in Renaissance Italy. In: Campbell, SJ and Milner, SJ (eds.) Artistic Exchange and Cultural Translation in the Italian Renaissance City. Cambridge University Press, pp. 17-37. ISBN 9780521826884

O'Malley, Michelle (2003) Commissioning Bodies, Allocation Decisions and Price Structures for Altarpieces in Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century Italy. In: Fantoni, Marcello, Matthew, Louisa Chevalier and Matthews-Grieco, Sara F (eds.) The Art Market in Italy: 15th-17th Centuries. Franco Cosimo Panini, Modena, pp. 163-180. ISBN 9788882905774

O'Malley, Michelle (1999) Memorising the New: Using Recent Works as Models in Italian Renaissance Commissions. In:Reinink, Wessel and Stumpel, Jeroen (eds.) Memory and Oblivion: Proceedings of the XXIXth International Congress of the History of Art held in Amsterdam, 1-7 September 1996. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 803-810. ISBN 9780792342137

O'Malley, Michelle (1998) Late Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century Painting Contracts and the Stipulated Use of the Painter's Hand. In: Marchand, Eckhart and Wright, Alison (eds.) With and Without the Medici: Studies in Tuscan Art and Patronage 1434-1530. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 156-178. ISBN 9781859284230

Edited Book

Motture, Peta and O'Malley, Michelle, eds. (2011) Re-thinking Renaissance Objects: Design, Function and Meaning.Renaissance Studies Special Issues . Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester. ISBN 9781444337754

O'Malley, Michelle and Welch, Evelyn, eds. (2007) The Material Renaissance. Manchester University Press, Manchester. ISBN 9780719076572