Alexander Röstel

Courtauld Institute of Art

Project Title: Art and Devotion Under Savonarola, 1494-1498.

Supervised by Dr Scott Nethersole and Dr Guido Rebecchini.

My dissertation offers an interconnected account of the patronage networks operating in Florence during the final decade of the fifteenth century. This decade witnessed in close succession the end of Medici supremacy and the rise and fall of the Dominican preacher Girolamo Savonarola. Analogously, scholars have tended to subdivide the artistic patronage into Medicean andSavonarolan, notwithstanding the difficulty in defining and delimiting such categories.

Other scholars have circumvented this issue by detecting a decline in the production of art, giving little attention, however, to both visual and archival material that proves the opposite. While there is much evidence in support of artistic commissions mediated by the Medici family as well as Savonarola’s firm belief in the intermediary and pedagogical nature of images, this thesis seeks to challenge the perceived dualism, emphasising the continuities rather than the crisis of artistic production during the period in question. In doing so, I selected three closely related architectural altarpieces that were commissioned and executed between 1491 and 1495: the Corbinelli Altarpiece (S. Spirito, Florence), the Gondi Altarpiece (Cathedral, Fiesole) and the Martini-Salviati Altarpiece (formerly S. Girolamo, Fiesole). A wealth of unpublished documents will allow me to provide an account of the cultural and religious environment within which patrons commissioned these works, artists operated, and the works of art themselves were created. Thus, my thesis will address specific works of art as much as the people, vicissitudes, and documents that surround them. Ultimately, I hope to understand the factors that drove their design. It is this quest that holds great potential to enhance our understanding of the role of art in times of political, economic and social turmoil.

Research interests

  • Italian Art and Architecture between 1300-1700 (in particular Florentine art in the second half of the fifteenth century and the artist Sandro Botticelli)
  • Patronage Networks
  • Collection, Display and Reception of early Italian art in later periods
  • The relationship between art and opera

Conference papers and lectures

  • Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting
    Berlin, 28 March 2015
    “Habemus paulum”: Reconstructing the Florentine Church of San Paolino
  • Berlin Remixed: Papers on Italian Art and Architecture
    Courtauld Institute, London, 30 April 2015
    “Habemus paulum”: Reconstructing the Florentine Church of San Paolino”
  • Researching The Courtauld Collections: Conservation and Art-Historical Analysis
    The Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, London, January and May 2015
    “Bartolomeo Montagna’s Gambier-Perry Holy Family in Context” (with Jae Youn Chung)

Recent publications

  • ‘“Una Pieta chon molte figure”: Sandro Botticelli’s Altarpiece for the Florentine Church of San Paolino’, The Burlington Magazine, 157 (2015), pp. 521-529.
  • “Intensiver Blick und virtuose Strichführung: Bernini als Zeichner”, Exhibition Review, Kunstchronik, 68 (2015), pp. 440-446
  • (with Jae Youn Chung) Bartolomeo Montagna: The Gambier-Parry Holy Family, in: Researching The Courtauld Collections: Conservation and Art-Historical Analysis, June 2015, published online.
  • “Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence”, Exhibition Review,Renaissance Studies (forthcoming)
  • (research assistance for) Andreas Schumacher, Annette Hojer, Cornelia Syre, Annette Kranz, Ulrike Fischer, Daniela Karl (eds.), Catalogue Raisonné of Florentine Paintings, 1300-1600, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (forthcoming)


  • ICOM, Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker, Renaissance Society of America

Professional Experience

  • ICOM, Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker, Renaissance Society of America, Kaiser-Friedrich Museumsverein, Freunde und Förderer der Staatsoper Unter den Linden
  • Management Consultant, I.B.M. Global Business Services (from 2007-2010)


  • Medici Archive Project, Archivio di Stato di Firenze
  • Junior Research Fellow
    The Medici Archive Project, Archivio di Stato di Firenze