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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, specifically silks, in painting from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. It seeks to describe the development of silk weaving and painting as two parallel art forms catering for different segments of the market, with the more expensive art (silk weaving) making an impact on the less expensive one (painting). Rembrandt has continued doing research on the relationship between textiles and painting in a number of published conference papers.

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 is his project on the Art of the Poor, launched with a conference at the Institute in June 2018 and resulting in the publication of the conference proceedings in 2020.

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. Rembrandt is the co-author of the two-volume publication that is the outcome of this project.

Art Historiography

Rembrandt has also published on past narratives about the Renaissance, 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 illustration cycles. 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 make further contributions the use of IT in this context.


In Term 3, Rembrandt supervises dissertations appropriate to his research interests and expertise. He also teaches in the BA course on Approaches to Classical Antiquity at UCL.

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)
•    The French Renaissance of the Pagan Gods (the representation of classical deities in French manuscripts from the 14th and 15th centuries)
•    The Art Collections of Art Historians (Bernard Berenson, Roberto Longhi, and Kenneth Clarke as art collectors)
•    Miraculous Prints in Emilia-Romagna (the use of prints as a special category of miraculous images in northern Italy)
•    Wax Ex-Votos in Florence 1300-1500 (the manufacture, trade, and use of figurative wax votive gifts)

Current PhD Students

•    Elinora Lane, UCL, The Self-Fashioning of Elisabetta Querini (a Venetian patrician woman and her exceptional social network involvement with literature and art)
•    Emily Averiss, The Sartorial Self-Fashioning of Catherine de’ Medici (the wardrobe of a Queen of France of Italian origin)
•    Cara Wolahan, Amulets in Italy in the Long Sixteenth Century (objects and materials to which special benefits were assigned)
•    Carlotta Gonzi, Gems in Art at Northern-Italian Renaissance Courts (the role of gemstones as depicted in paintings) 



(edited) The Art of the Poor. The Aesthetic Material Culture of the Lower Social Classes in Europe 1300-1600 (London: Bloomsbury, 2020)

(co-authored, with A. Lymberopoulou) Hell in the Byzantine World. A History of Art and Religion in Venetian Crete and the Eastern Mediterranean, Vol. 2: A Catalogue of the Cretan Material (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)

(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: 

‘A Monumental Price Tag. The Cost of Furnishing a Family Chapel in the Second Half of the Fifteenth Century,’ in Effie Mavromichali and Ianthi Assimakopoulou (eds) Thomas Puttfarken Workshops I & II. Proceedings (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2023), 171-84.

‘Introduction: Did the Poor have Art?’ in The Art of the Poor. The Aesthetic Material Culture of the Lower Social Classes in Europe 1300-1600 (London: Bloomsbury, 2020), 1-21

‘The Role of Velvet in Renaissance Painting’, in Velvets of the Fifteenth Century. Riggisberger Berichte 24 (Bern: Abegg Stiftung, 2020), 203-212

‘Hell from East to West. Western Resonances in Cretan Wall Painting’ in A. Lymberopoulou (ed.) Hell in the Byzantine World. A History of Art and Religion in Venetian Crete and the Eastern Mediterranean, Vol. 1: Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 191-234

‘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