Welcome to the Department of Art History

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  • Department: Art History
  • Position: Distinguished Professor
  • Research Interests: Italian Renaissance Art
  • Ph.D., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
  • Phone: (848) 932-1244/ Cell: 732-616-1709
  • Email: mcham@arthist.rutgers.edu
  • Office Hours: In office, Thursdays 10:30-12:30pm or by appointment. Please e-mail to schedule a meeting time.
  • Office Location: Art History Department, Room 214

Biographical Information:

Professor McHam is a specialist in Italian painting and sculpture between 1200 and 1600. Her book on the influence of Pliny the Elder on Italian art and art theory was published by Yale University Press in February 2013. Recent publications include articles such as “The Eclectic Taste of the Gattamelata Family,” Venice/Padua, ed. Brigit Blass-Simmen, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, 29-40 and “The Triumph of the Church: Campagna’s High Altar at San Giorgio Maggiore,” Encountering the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Gary Radke, ed. Molly Bourne and Victor Coonin, Zepherus Scholarly Publications, 2016, 279-92; “Donatello’s High Altar at the Santo and its Surroundings: Movement, Materials, and Meanings,” Making and Moving Sculpture in Early Modern Italy, ed. Kelley Helmstutler di Dio, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015, 9-24 and “Visualizing the Immaculate Conception: Donatello, Francesco della Rovere and the High Altar and Choir-Screen at the Church of the Santo in Padua,” Renaissance Quarterly, 69.3, Fall 2016, 831-64.

SarahBlakeMcHam

She has advised recently completed dissertations on such topics as Medici patronage of art in the Grand Duchy during the late 16th and early 17th century; the role of painted labels (cartellini) in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century painting; the painted illustrations of Virgil’s pastoral poetry; representations of the non-married ideal beloved in the Renaissance, the earliest representations of Mary Magdalen in Italy; Riccio’s reliefs at the Church of the Servi in Venice; Luca della Robbia’s glazed terracotta reliefs and Old Testament imagery in Italy’s maritime cities.

Dr. McHam thanking her former students at the symposium they held in her honor on March 9, 2013

Recent Awards: Dr .McHam was honored by her current and former students with a symposium and published festschrift called the Scarlet Renaissance in 2013.  Dr. McHam's book on Pliny won the Roland Bainton prize for the best art history book of 2013, awarded by the Sixteenth Century Studies Society. She was awarded the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellowship at CASVA for 2014-2015, and declined an invitation to be a scholar in residence at the Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell'Arte in Florence (2015). Professor McHam is the recipient of two Graduate Teaching Excellence Awards from the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (2003) and from Rutgers University (2002).  

Books:

mcham pliny sheet

Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance: The Legacy of the Natural History, Yale University Press, 2013

Looking At Italian Renaissance Sculpture, editor, Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback edition 2000.

The Chapel of St. Anthony at the Santo and the Development of Venetian Renaissance Sculpture, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994
Central Italian Sculpture, 1400-1500:  An Annotated Bibliography, Boston, G.K. Hall, 1986

The Sculpture of Tullio Lombardo; Studies in Sources and Meaning, New York, Garland Press, 1978

Essays and Articles:

“Bellano’s Invention at the Santo,” The Reinvention of Sculpture in the Century, ed. Amy Bloch and Daniel Zolli, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, 203-19

“Byzantine Sources Shape Tullio Lombardo’s Sculpture,” Ravenna/Renaissance, ed. Alexander Nagel and Giancarla Periti, Turnhout: Brepols, 2020, 29-45

“The Fantasia of the Cricket in Piero di Cosimo’s Vulcan and Aeolus,” Piero di Cosimo: Painter of Faith and Fable, ed. Dennis Geronimus and Michael W. Kwakkelstein, Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2018, 82-100

“L’artiste amoureux de son modèle,” Le Mythe de la peinture antique,” ed. Emmanuelle Hénin and Valérie Naas, Paris: Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, 2018, 401-12

“Cyprus Meets Venice and Rome: The Tomb of Livio Podocataro,” Source, 36/3-4 (2017), 190-200

“Voids Matter: Donatello’s Lamentation of Christ in the Victoria and Albert Museum,” Artibus et Historiae, 76 (2017), 77-93 2017, 77-93

“The Eclectic Taste of the Gattamelata Family,” Venice/Padua, ed. Brigit Blass-Simmen, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, 29-40

 “The Triumph of the Church: Campagna’s High Altar at San Giorgio Maggiore,” Encountering the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Gary Radke, ed. Molly Bourne and Victor Coonin, Zepherus Scholarly Publications, 2016, 279-92

“Antiquity as Cultural Capital in the Age of Giorgione,” Venice in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Patricia Fortini Brown, ed. Mary Frank and Blake de Maria, Milan: Five Continents, 2013, 83-93.

“Visualizing the Immaculate Conception: Donatello, Francesco della Rovere and the High Altar and Choir-Screen at the Church of the Santo in Padua,” Renaissance Quarterly, 69.3, Fall 2016, 831-64.

“Donatello’s High Altar at the Santo and its Surroundings: Movement, Materials, and Meanings,” Making and Moving Sculpture in Early Modern Italy, ed. Kelley Helmstutler di Dio, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015, 9-24

"Antiquity as Cultural Capital in the Age of Giorgione."  Venice in the Renaissance: Essays in Honor of Patricia Fortini Brown, ed. Mary Frank and Blake de Maria, Milan: Five Continents. 2013, 83-93.

 “Pliny’s Influence on Vasari’s First Edition of the Lives,” Artibus et Historiae, 64 (2011), 9-23.

“Giambologna’s Equestrian Monument to Cosimo I: The Monument Makes the Memory,” Patronage and Italian Renaissance Sculpture, ed. Kathleen Wren Christian and David J. Drogin, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010, 195-222.

“Donatello’s Judith as the Emblem of God’s Chosen People,” The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies across the Disciplines, ed. Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti and Henrike Lähnemann, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2010, 307-24.

“Tomba come testamento: Il monumento funerario di Andrea Bregno,” Andrea Bregno: Il senso della forma nella cultura artistica del Rinascimento, ed. Claudio Strinati and Claudio Crescentini, Rome: Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali and Maschietto editore, 2009, 414-29.

“Reflections of Pliny in Giovanni Bellini’s Woman with a Mirror,” Artibus et Historiae,  58 (2008), 157-71.

"Renaissance Monuments to Favorite Sons," Renaissance Studies , 19, no. 4 (Sept. 2005), 458-486.

 “Donatello’s Bronze David and Judith as Metaphors of Medici Rule in Florence,” The Art Bulletin, LXXXIII, March 2001, 32-47.

Reviews

Review of Susan Nalezyty, Pietro Bembo and the Intellectual Pleasures of a Renaissance Writer and Art Collector, The Art Newspaper, 27, no. 298 (February 2018), 12 

Recent Lectures, Presentations and Activities:

mchambookInvited Guest Editor, Artibus et Historiae

“Voids Matter: Donatello’s Lamentation,” Robert H. Smith Renaissance Sculpture Plenary Lecture, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, December 2016

mchampicDr. Black McHam supervising photography at Santo in Padu


Recent and Future Presentations:

“Promoting the Cult of the Plague Saint Rocco,” Pandemic: Venice and the visual Arts in Times of Plague, College Art Association Meetings, February 2021

“The Genesis of the Tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin,” Anniversary Celebration of Artibus et Historiae, Cini Foundation, Venice, May 2020 (postponed)

“Center Stage for a Forgotten Political Cycle: Petrarch’s Hall of Famous Romans in Padua,” Renaissance Society of America Meetings, March 2019

“Riccio’s Paschal Candlestick at the Santo in Padua as a Liturgical Furnishing,” Plenary Speaker, Paul Oskar Kristeller Seminar in the Renaissance, Columbia University, September 2018

“’We Penetrate the [Earth’s] Innards and Search for Riches’: Pliny’s Hierarchy of Materials and its Influence in the Renaissance,” Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell’Arte, Florence, April 2018

Current & Recent Activities:

Board Member, Save Venice

Renaissance Society of America, Representative for Affiliated Society member, save Venice 2019-present

Gordon Book Pru ze Committee member, Renaissance Society of America, 2017-2019

Current Interests & Research:

Revival of antiquity in Renaissance art and literature, and it's influence in Venice, Padua and Florence.
--Social and political context of painting and sculpture of the Venetian Empire and of Florence, especially patronage and religious practices.
--Rhetorical Construction of Identity in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Italy

--Italy’s Interaction with the Muslim World

 Undergraduate Classes Taught:

  • --Birth of Renaissance Art
  • --European Renaissance Art
  • --Age of Giotto, Masaccio and his Contemporaries
  • --Italian High Renaissance and Mannerist Art
  • --Venice: The City and its Art
  • --Italian Renaissance Domestic Art
  • --Italian Renaissance Sculpture
  • --Public Monuments, 19th-21st Centuries
  • --Michelangelo
  • --Art and Politics in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy
  • --Sepulchral Monuments from Old Kingdom Egypt to Canova
  • --Leonardo da Vinci
  • --Domestic Art in Italy
  • --Women in the Italian Renaissance

Graduate Classes Taught:

  • --Italian Renaissance Images of Women and their Worlds
  • --Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Italian Art “Images of Stability”
  • --Altarpiece in Italy, 1400‑1520
  • --Secular Art in Renaissance Italy
  • --Thirteenth‑ and Fourteenth‑century Italian Sculpture
  • --Fifteenth‑century Italian Sculpture
  • --Sixteenth‑century Italian Sculpture
  • --Donatello
  • --Interaction between Venetian Painting and Sculpture, 1450-1600
  • --Central Italian Sixteenth‑Century Painting
  • --Venetian Painting of the 15th and 16th Centuries
  • --Late Sixteenth‑Century Sculpture and Painting in Central Italy

Searching for Dr. McHam 

  • Short Bio: Sarah Blake McHam is a distinguished professor at Rutgers. Most of her research has focused on Italian fifteenth- and sixteenth-century sculpture in Florence, Venice, and in the Veneto in books like The Chapel of St. Anthony at the Santo and the Development of Venetian Renaissance Sculpture and Looking at Italian Renaissance Sculpture, and in numerous articles. Her most recent book, Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance: The Legacy of the Natural History, won the Roland Bainton prize of the Sixteenth Century Studies Society for the best art history book of 2013. Her recent article in the Renaissance Quarterly of fall 2016 involves a new interpretation of Donatello’s High Altar in the Santo, which will be part of her new book about Paduan art in the fourteenth-sixteenth centuries, her current book project. Another book project on Piero di Cosimo, has been commissioned by Reaktion Books, London

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