• A noted art historian.
  • Speaker of seven languages.
  • Born and raised in Brazil.
  • Frequently in Italy for research.

Professor Ricardo De Mambro Santos brings unique international perspectives to his art history courses.

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Sharing a Curiosity for Art

Ricardo De Mambro Santos takes art history far beyond names and dates.

Hannah Schiff will never forget one of her first art history classes with Ricardo De Mambro Santos.

The professor drew a squiggly line on the white board at the front of the room. “What is it?” he asked the class.

“It’s a mountain,” one student responded, and De Mambro Santos turned the line into an alpine scene. Then he erased the landscape and drew the squiggly line again.

“What is it now?” he asked. “Lips,” someone said, and the professor changed the picture accordingly. Other suggestions and drawings followed.

“I was so taken with the idea that art isn’t just a picture hanging on a wall, that it can change depending on the meaning we ascribe to it,” says Schiff, who later chose to major in art history as well as English. “That was one of the moments in his class that got me. He can relate art to anything in our society.”

It’s a common reaction among De Mambro Santos’ students, who say his enthusiasm is hard to resist.

“Art history is not simply about memorizing data or putting it in a chronological line,” he says. “One of my biggest ambitions is to make my students curious about art and aware that they can contribute to our knowledge of what art is.”

A Different Type of Global Learning

In addition to his excitement for teaching, De Mambro Santos provides unique personal perspectives that give his students a global education even in the confines of a Willamette classroom.

Born and raised in Brazil, Santos spent most of his adult life living in Italy. He speaks seven languages, frequently travels abroad to present his Renaissance art research at conferences, and serves on the editorial board of the international “Journal of Art Historiography.”

Santos strives to share his international perspectives with his students.

“I want to help them establish an international dialogue, to let them know that they are part of a larger community,” he says. “The best way to teach Renaissance art is not necessarily by going to Florence. It could be a wonderful use of your critical thinking tools to go to Bangkok instead and try to make connections between the two locations.”


  • BA and MA from Università di Roma “La Sapienza” (Italy), PhD from Università degli Studi di Bologna (Italy)
  • Specializes in Renaissance art
  • Courses include Renaissance and early modern art, methodologies of art history, Baroque and neoclassical visual culture, Renaissance visual culture, art literature and criticism
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