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Rembrandt Duits

Deputy-Curator, Photographic Collection

Research Interests: Art History | Art Markets | Textile and Costume History | Art and Social Status | Renaissance Material Culture | Renaissance Art Theory | Iconography and Iconographic Classification | Medieval and Renaissance Astrology | Survival of the Pagan Gods | Byzantine Art and Archaeology | Art Historiography


Rembrandt Duits is Deputy-Curator of the Photographic Collection. He studied Art History and Archaeology at the University of Utrecht (MA, PhD) and joined the staff of the Warburg Institute in 1999. He is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the Warburg Institute Iconographic Database.


Rembrandt has published on a range of topics in Art History. His research interests fall into five different but related groups:

Art History and Textile History

Rembrandt’s PhD thesis and subsequent book on Gold Brocade and Renaissance Painting deal with the depiction of luxury fabrics in painting from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. It is not just a study in textile and costume history, however, but includes sections on pictorial practice and its relation with contemporary art theory. It argues that different art forms (painting, gold-brocaded silk fabrics) were created for different segments of the art market related to different social strata.

Renaissance Material Culture

Continuing with alternative narratives of art history, Rembrandt has explored Renaissance art as part of the wider material culture of the period. This is the topic of a chapter written for the Open University course book Viewing Renaissance Art and of the module he teaches as part of the Warburg Institute’s MA courses; the latest outcome of this strand of his research is his project on the Art of the Poor, launched with a conference at the Institute in June 2018.

Renaissance Art and Byzantium

Examining alternative narratives of Renaissance taste, Rembrandt has analysed, in a co-edited volume and several essays, Renaissance collections of Byzantine art. He has also researched, as participant in a Leverhulme International Networks project, the interaction between Byzantine and western art in the representation of Hell in wall paintings made during the Venetian period on Crete.

Art Historiography

Rembrandt has also published on narratives about the Renaissance from the past, in particular those of the circle of the Warburg Institute. In the volume of conference proceedings Images of the Pagan Gods, he has written on the survival and revival of the gods of classical Antiquity as perceived by Aby Warburg, Fritz Saxl, and Jean Seznec. A separate essay discusses how Fritz Saxl used the study of astrological imagery to construe his own vision of the Renaissance.

Iconographic Classification

In an article in Scriptorium based on the photos of astrological manuscripts collected by Fritz Saxl, Rembrandt has proposed a classification of the manuscripts based on their illustrations. The problems of iconographic classification are at the heart of his work on the Warburg Institute Iconographic Database, as explained in related publications. He hopes to do further research on the use of IT in this context.


In Term 2, Rembrandt offers a module on Renaissance Material Culture, which seeks to expand the traditional range of Art History, including a wide variety of media from clay beer mugs to goldsmith’s work, and examines the multiple narratives of Renaissance Art History in relation to social class; seminar topics include: the art of the poor, the art of the princely courts, the arts of the middle classes, competition and collaboration, the art of women, collections, and the roots of the modern concept of Art.

In Term 3, Rembrandt supervises dissertations appropriate to his research interests and expertise.

PhD Supervision

Rembrandt Duits has co-supervised PhD Projects on:

  • The Chronicles of Jan van Naaldwijk (Dutch medieval chronicles of history)
  • The Language of Jan Baptista van Helmont (17th-century Dutch language and science)
  • The illustrated manuscripts of the Ovidius Moralizatus (survival of the pagan gods in the late Middle Ages)

PhD Students

  • Lousia McKenzie, 'Waxing devotion: the economic and devotional lifecycles of wax ex-votos in Florence 1300-1500' 
  • Sarah Coviello, ‘The Art Collections of Art Historians’
  • Lorenza Gay, ‘The French Renaissance of the Pagan Gods’



(edited, with A. Lymberopoulou), Byzantine Art and Renaissance Europe, London, 2013 

(edited, with F. Quiviger), Images of the Pagan Gods. Papers of a Conference in Memory of Jean Seznec, London, 2009 (Warburg Institute Colloquia 14)

Gold Brocade and Renaissance Painting. A Study in Material Culture, London, 2008

Articles and essays: 

‘Artistic Interactions between Byzantium and Italy in the Palaiologan Era. The Case of Hell,’ in A. Lymberopoulou (ed.) Cross-Cultural Interactions between Byzantium and the West, 1204-1669. Whose Mediterranean is it anyway? Papers from the Forty-Eight Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Milton Keynes, 28th-30th March 2015, London and New York 2018, 74-101. 

‘A New Resource Based on Old Principles. The Warburg Institute Iconographic Database’, in Visual Resources XXX/3 (September 2014) (Special Issue: Classifying Content. Photographic Collections and Theories of Systematic Ordering, eds C. Franceschini and K. Mazzucco), pp. 263-75. 

Byzantine Icons in the Medici Collections’, in A. Lymberopoulou and R. Duits (eds),  Byzantine Art and Renaissance Europe, London, 2013, pp. 157-88. 

‘“Abiti gravi, abiti stravaganti”. Veronese’s Creative Approach to Drapery’, in V. Brilliant and F. Ilchman (eds), Paolo Veronese. A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice, Sarasota 2012 (exhibition catalogue), pp. 58-69. 

‘Reading the stars of the Renaissance. Fritz Saxl and Astrology’, in Journal of Art Historiography, December 2011 

‘“Una icona pulcra”. The Byzantine Icons of Cardinal Pietro Barbo’, in Ph. Jackson and G. Rebecchini (eds), Mantova e il Rinascimento italiano. Studi in onore di David S. Chambers, Mantua 2011, pp. 127-42. 

‘The Waning of the Renaissance’, in R. Duits and F. Quiviger (eds) Images of the Pagan Gods. Papers of a Conference in Memory of Jean Seznec, London, 2009, pp. 21-41. 

‘Art, Class and Wealth’, in K.W. Woods, C.M. Richardson and A. Lymberopoulou (eds), Viewing Renaissance Art, London and Milton Keynes, 2007, pp. 21-58. 

‘Celestial Transmissions. An Iconographical Classification of Constellation Cycles in Manuscripts (8th-15th Centuries)’, Scriptorium, 59, 2005, pp. 147-202. 

‘Figured Riches. The Value of Gold Brocades in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Painting’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 62, 1999, pp. 60-92. 

Curriculum Vitae