Ricardo De Mambro Santos

Professor and Chair, Department of Art History
Specialty: Italian and European Renaissance and Mannerism


  • B. A., M.A., Università di Roma “La Sapienza” (Italy)
  • Ph.D., Università degli Studi di Bologna (Italy)
  • Post-Doctoral, Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane – Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze (Italy)

Research and Teaching

Professor De Mambro Santos is an expert in Italian and European Renaissance and Mannerism. He has taught for twelve years in the Department of Art History at the University of Rome courses on Renaissance Art Literature and Visual Culture as well as classes on Methodologies of Art Criticism. In the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Rome, he has also taught courses on the activity of European painters in India, China and Japan from the sixteenth- to the eighteenth-century. More recently, as a Visiting Professor, he taught at the University of Washington and Whitman College classes on Northern Renaissance, Brazilian visual culture, and theories of art from Neoclassicism to Postmodernism.

His major publications are dedicated to the analysis of European Renaissance treatises on art, with particular attention to the writings of Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgio Vasari and Karel van Mander. Besides his wide-ranging expertise in European visual culture from the fifteenth- to the eighteenth-century, Professor De Mambro Santos has conducted several researches in complementary fields (including art theory, film studies, textual studies, and semiotics). He is also strongly interested on problems related to the Historiography of Art and have published many articles on Julius von Schlosser, Benedetto Croce and Lionello Venturi. Directly related to this scholarly interest is his activity as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Art Historiography, recently founded by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the Gombrich Archives.

In 2002, he has taken part in the organization of an important exhibit, Dove il Si Suona, held at the Galleria degli Uffizi, in Florence, as the curator of the section entitled “The Fortune of Italian Art Literature,” which featured paintings, engravings, and books from the Renaissance through the eighteenth-century. Given his interests in film studies, he has also written documentaries for the Italian Television (RAI Educational) and curated several art exhibits, including some major shows on Federico Fellini for the Museum of Rome and the University of Washington’s Fellinianacelebration in 2003 (The Gladiator Nun: Fellini’s Women, at the Henry Art Gallery, an exhibit of original drawings by Fellini; andThe Beautiful Confusion: Fellini and Secchiaroli on the Set of 8 ½). In 2005, he was once again the curator of an exhibit of Fellini’s drawings (Fellini: Erotomachia) at the Karikaturmuseum in Krems, Austria. In 2008, he produced a documentary on Leonardo da Vinci for the Japanese Network Television.

He has just finished a study on the influence of Karel van Mander’s art theory in the production and the reception of paintings, drawings, and prints in Holland between sixteenth- and seventeenth-century (Picturams Labyrinthus. Theory and Practice of the “Art of Painting” in Holland Around 1600). He is currently engaged in the completion of four major projects: a study on the collection of drawings and prints gathered by Count Alessandro Maggiori between 1788 and 1829, with the organization of an exhibit at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (scheduled on Fall 2011: The Renaissance Revival) and the publication of a critical catalogue of the artworks present in such a remarkable collection; a monograph on the activity of Leonardo da Vinci in Rome and his connections with the congregation of the so-called “Amadeits,” i.e. the religious followers of the Blessed Amadeo in Rome and Milan; a study on the interplay of forgery, irony, and interpicturiality in Netherlandish Mannerism, and finally, a research on a particular kind of reception of the concept of Renaissance in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italian art discourses, with the introduction of a new hermeneutical category: “Meta-Renaissance.”

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

de Mambro Santos, Ricardo. “‘Le Trame Sospese Dell’arte. Metafore, Metalinguaggio E Natura Nella Rappresentazione Di Ragni Nelle Arti Visive’ [The Suspended Nets of Art. Metaphor, Metalanguage, and Nature in the Representation of Spiders in the Visual Arts].” Bruniana & Campanelliana. Ricerche filosofiche e materiali storico-testuali 2 (2015).

de Mambro Santos, Ricardo. “The Ultimate Beginning: Vasari, Van Mander and the Paradigm of Nuova Imitazione,” in Vasari als Paradigm, eds. Fabian Jonietz and Alessandro Nova, Vicenza: Marsilio Editore (2016): 153-162.