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Ricardo De Mambro Santos

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

Headshot of Ricardo De Mambro Santos

Contact Information

Salem Campus

Ford Hall, Room 312
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301


  • 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)

Courses Taught

ARTH 116-Introduction to Renaissance and Early Modern Art
ARTH 121-Art Historical Inquiry: What is Art About?
ARTH 263-Baroque and Neoclassical Visual Culture
ARTH 267-Renaissance Visual Culture
ARTH 275-Art Literature and Criticism
ARTH 362-Theories and Methodologies of Art History
ARTH 496-Senior Seminar in Art History

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 in problems related to the Historiography of Art and has 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, founded by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the Gombrich Archives.

In 2002, he took 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 Felliniana celebration in 2003 (The Gladiator Nun: Fellini’s Women, at the Henry Art Gallery, an exhibit of original drawings by Fellini; and The 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.

In 2011, he organized at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art a major exhibition of Italian sixteenth and seventeenth-century drawings, made by artists such as Giorgio Vasari, Perin del Vaga, Domenichino and Carlo Maratta, belonging to an important eighteenth-century art collector: Timeless Renaissance. Italian Drawings from the Alessandro Maggiori Collection. More recently, in 2017, after having studied a most peculiar and richly illustrated Book of Common Prayer, the so-called Hexham Abbey Bible, originally printed in Cambridge (England) in 1629, he organized an exhibition of Dutch and Flemish sixteenth-century engravings at the Hallie Ford: Holy Beauty. Northern Renaissance Prints Discovered in an Early English Bible. In both projects, he extensively worked in collaboration with Art History majors and Willamette students in the making of the exhibition as well as in the preparation of the catalogue. Also in 2017, he has written the introductory essay for the catalogue of a retrospective of prints and drawings made by Dutch Mannerist master, Hendrick Goltzius, in the Museum of Dessau (Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie), Germany.

He is currently engaged in three major projects: a research/publication on the activity of Leonardo da Vinci in connection with the congregation of the so-called “Amadeits,” i.e. the religious followers of the Blessed Amadeus in Rome and Milan; a study on the interplay of forgery, irony, and interpicturiality in Netherlandish Mannerism and, in particular, in Karel van Mander’s art theory; finally, the preparation of an intellectual biography of art historian, Julius von Schlosser, focusing, on the one hand, on his relationship with Benedetto Croce, Karl Vossler and Roberto Longhi and, on the other, on the analysis of his methodology in relation to the linguistic theories promoted by Ferdinand de Saussurre and the historical approach outlined by Robin George Collingwood.

Recent Books

Santa Maria Assunta. La Chiesa Matrice di Polignano a mare: Storia di un Monumento. Bari: Adda Editore, 2017, in collaboration with Bianca Tavassi La Greca (English translation by the author, The Church of Santa Maria Assunta at Polignano a Mare: The History of a Monument). Bari: Adda Editore, 2017, 182 pp.

Holy Beauty. Northern Renaissance Prints and the Making of the Hexham Abbey Bible (Cambridge, 1629), Catalogue of the Exhibition, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, February 10-April 29, 2018. Salem, Hallie Ford Museum of Art-Bari: Adda Editore, 2018, 195 pp.

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. “Pratiche dell’Onestà. Il Binomio Corpo e Anima come Metafora della Prassi Artistica nei Trattati del Rinascimento” [The Practice of Honesty. The Dichotomy of Body and Soul as a Metaphor of Art in Renaissance Treatises], in La Riflessione Morale di fronte al Problema Anima-Corpo: Antichi e Moderni, ed. Eugenio Canone, Firenze: Olschki Editore (2015): 149-171.

De Mambro Santos, Ricardo. “Ladri di Maniera. Van Mander, Goltzius e il Mito di Michelangelo” [Thieves of Manner. Van Mander, Goltzius and Myth of Michelangelo], Il Mito di Michelangelo, ed. Alessandra Barone, Arezzo: Fraternita dei Laici (2015): 97-108.

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.

De Mambro Santos, Ricardo. “U Cleyn Weerelt: The Ethics of Creativity in Northern Renaissance and Mannerism” in Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617). Mythos, Macht und Menschilishkeit, Exhibition Catalogue, ed. Norbert Michels, Peterberg: Michel Imhof Verlag (2017): 14-41.

Willamette University

Art History

Ford Hall
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6977 fax