Thalia Allington-Wood is Lecturer in Art History c.1300-1700 and Convener of the MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture at the Warburg Institute. She is particularly interested in the materiality and wider viewing environments of art objects in relation to their making and reception, canon formation, periodization and what has been termed the ‘visual historiography’ of art history, as well as issues relating to the environment and feminism. Trained with an English Literature degree from the University of Manchester and an MA and PhD (2019) in Art History at UCL, Thalia taught at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, UCL and Oxford Brookes before joining the Warburg Institute in 2021.
Thalia’s research is driven by an interdisciplinary approach to Renaissance art history, and a particular interest in outdoor sculpture and the material and regional as a site of knowledge and culture.
Her current project examines the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo, a sculptural site commissioned by Pier Francesco Orsini between 1550 and 1580 in Alto Lazio in Italy, in which colossal sculptures of monsters and marvels are carved out of volcanic peperino stone. Here, Thalia demonstrates the importance of the Sacro Bosco’s local physical and cultural environment, from its representation of antiquity in relation to nearby ancient Etruscan artefacts, to questions of geology, of natural history and vernacular literature.
Another key aspect of Thalia’s research is the reception and afterlives of Renaissance culture, and what has been termed the ‘visual historiography’ of art history. For her work on the Sacro Bosco, this has involved a detailed evaluation of the site’s reception into the twentieth century across photography and film, recently published an an article in Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes.
Thalia’s interest in questions of geology and natural history in relation to Renaissance visual culture has also led to a new collaborative research project on the elements in Renaissance and early modern society with Rebecca Zorach (Northwestern University), Claudia Swan (Washington University), Sophie Morris (V&A) and the Newberry Library, which is to be turned into an edited volume.
Her research to date has been supported awards from the AHRC, UCL, The Society of Architectural Historians and The Sixteenth Century Society, along with research fellowships at UCLA's Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard University.
Thalia is also very interested in exhibition history, curating and methods of display – from the Renaissance to the present. She has written catalogue essays for contemporary shows and before entering academia, worked in museum education, curatorial and research at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, The Design Museum and The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds.
In Term 1, Thalia co-teaches the core module “Art History and Renaissance Culture: 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. In this module, Thalia runs seminars on subjects such as the revival of classical antiquity, humanist scholarship, the influence of mythology and Aristotle’s Poetics, and philosophies and categories of wonder, while also raising issues such as race, gender, and disability. She also contributes to the first half of the core module “Methods and Techniques of Scholarship: Reading and Writing History”, which introduces MA, and first-year PhD students to the nuts and bolts of becoming an historian.
In Term 2, Thalia offers the optional module “Renaissance Sculpture in the Expanded Field”, which examines Renaissance sculpture according to broad parameters to think about how images and other media were fundamental to the creation and reception of sculptural objects. Considering the close relationship between sculpture, drawing, print, architecture, and paint, the module begins in the artist workshop before considering the afterlives of sculpture within painting, the role of sculpture in the rituals of religious life – from mobile, polychromed crucifixes to immersive pilgrimage sites, large-scale public works in city centers, the inventive subject matter found in the villa garden and the ephemeral sculptures made for festivities and banquets.
In Term 3, Thalia supervises MA dissertations.
‘‘Impressions so alien’: the afterlives of the Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo’, Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, vol.41, no.2, 2021, pp.155-183
'Rocky encounters in the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo', The Open Arts Journal, vol.7, 2019, pp.41-58
‘Violent Generation and Geologic Origins in Sixteenth-Century Italian Sculpture’, in La Renaissance des origines, ed. by P. Morel, S. Hendler and F. Métral, Studies in the Renaissance (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming in 2022)
‘Gardens, Natural History and Global Trade’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of the Renaissance World: Art, Architecture, and Material Culture, ed. by M. Domínguez Torres (London and New York: Routledge, forthcoming in 2021)
‘Somatic Terrain: Topographies of Self and Space’, in Antony Gormley: In Formation, ed. by R. Horne and H. Luard (London: White Cube, 2020), pp.9-35
‘Women Sculptors in the 1980s and the Drew Gallery Projects’, in From the Kitchen Table: Drew Gallery Projects 1984–90, ed. by S. Drew and G. Scott (London: University of East Anglia Press, 2019), pp.70-86
Reviews / Other
'Edward Allington: Things Unsaid’, with Judith Winter, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 25 Oct 2019 – 23 Feb 2020
'Fernanda Gomes’ (pp.122-124), ‘Mary Ramsden’ (pp.264-266) and ‘Ryan Sullivan’ (pp.296-298), in Vitamin P3: New Perspectives on Painting, ed. by T. Melick and R. Morrill (London: Phaidon Press, 2016)
Review: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (Minneapolis: 2015), in Object, no.18, 2016, pp.69-71
'ROCKS: The Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo', LOBBY, no.4, The Bartlett School of Architecture, 2016, pp.92-95