Dr. Sean Roberts

Director of Art History


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Associate Professor of Pre-Modern Mediterranean Art


  • Ph.D. in History of Art, University of Michigan, 2006

  • BA in Art History, University of New Hampshire, 1999


Sean Roberts is a specialist in the arts of Renaissance Europe. His research is concerned with the interactions between Italy and the Islamic lands and with the place of prints in the histories of art and technology. Sean is the author of Printing a Mediterranean World: Florence, Constantinople and the Renaissance of Geography (Harvard University Press, 2013) and is the co-editor with Tim McCall and Giancarlo Fiorenza of Visual Cultures of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe (Truman State University Press, 2013). He has been awarded major fellowships from Harvard's Villa I Tatti, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Huntington Library. His essays have appeared in journals including Imago Mundi, Print Quarterly, Renaissance Studies, the Journal of Early Modern History, and Intellectual History Review. He is writing an examination of skullduggery and malfeasance among the earliest engravers. With Radha Dalal and Jochen Sokoly, he organized the 2019 Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art and is, with his co-chairs, currently editing a volume inspired by that conference, The Seas and the Mobility of Islamic Art forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2021.



Printing a Mediterranean World: Florence, Constantinople, and the Renaissance of Geography (Harvard University Press, 2013).

Visual Cultures of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe, co-edited with Timothy McCall and Giancarlo Fiorenza (originally Truman State (University Press, 2013, distributed by Penn State University Press, 2018).

Co-edited with Radha Dalal and Jochen Sokoly,The Seas and the Mobility of Islamic Art (forthcoming Yale University Press, 2021).


“The Centers and Margins of Luxury,” in Tim McCall and Catherine Kovesi eds., Cultural History of Luxury: 1400-1650 (forthcoming Bloomsbury, 2022).

“The Antiquarian Discovery and Invention of Constantinople,” in Sarah E. Bassett ed., The Cambridge Companion to Constantinople (forthcoming Cambridge University Press, 2021).

“Who Made Renaissance Interiors? Professions and Makers” in Stephanie Miller ed., A Cultural History of Interiors, 1450-1650 (forthcoming Bloomsbury, 2021).

“Veneto-Saracenic metalwork” (MW.581 and MIA.2014.110) and “The Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II” (PA.10), Catalog of the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (MIA/ Silvana, 2020).

“Picturing Peace in Renaissance Europe,” in Isabella Lazzarini ed. A Cultural History of Peace:1450-1648 (forthcoming Bloomsbury, 2020): 85-100.

“Antonio Rossellino, the Eros of Praxiteles, and Michelangelo’s David,” Source: Notes in the History of Art 39:3 (forthcoming Spring 2020).

“Engravings,” in Dennis Duncan and Adam Smyth eds. Book Parts (Oxford University Press, 2019; Chinese Edition forthcoming 2021), 223-236.

“Early Printmaking and the Middle East,” in Fanoon: 2012-2018 (VCUArts Qatar/Fanoon: Center for Printmedia Research, 2019): 3-6.

“Luxury, Technology, and the Diplomatic Gift,” in Catherine Kovesi ed. Luxury and the Ethics of Greed (Brepols: Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2019): 207-226.

“Charting Crusade in Ferdinando II’s Tuscany,” in Panagiotis Doukellis ed. Mediterranean Cartographic Stories: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century Masterpieces from the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation Collection (Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, 2019), 53-69.

Co-authored with Laura Moretti, “From the Vite or the Ritratti? Previously Unknown Portraits from Vasari’s Libro de’ Disegni,” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, 21 (2018):105-136.

“A Global Florence and its Blind Spots,” in Daniel Savoy ed. The Globalization of Renaissance Art: A Critical Review (Brill, 2017): 17-44.

Co-authored with Timothy McCall, “Raw Materials and Object Lessons,” in William Caferro, The Routledge History of the Renaissance (Routledge, 2017): 105-124.

Co-authored with Timothy McCall “Art and the Material Culture of Diplomacy,” in Monica Azzolini and Isabella Lazzarini, Italian Renaissance Diplomacy: Texts in Translation (University of Toronto Press/Pontifical Institute, 2017): 214-233.

“Salimbeni’s Epitalamio, Francia, and Maso Finiguerra,” Source: Notes in the History of Art 35:3 (2016): 227-234.

“The ‘Lost’ Map of Matteo de’ Pasti: Cartography, Diplomacy, and Espionage in the Renaissance Adriatic,” Journal of Early Modern History 20:1 (2016): 19-38.

“From Colossus to Crusade: Rhodes in the Early Modern European Visual Imagination,” in Sharon Gerstel, Viewing Greece: Cultural and Political Agency in the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean (Brepols, 2016): 237-259.

“Inventing Engraving in Vasari’s Florence,” Intellectual History Review 24 (2014): 367-388.

“Silence and Secrecy in Domenico Fetti’s Portrait of a Man with a Sheet of Music,” Renaissance Studies 27 (2013): 270-290.

“Tricks of the Trade: The Technical Secrets of Early Engraving,” in Visual Cultures of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe, 2013: 200-236.

Co-authored with Timothy McCall “Introduction: Revealing Early Modern Secrecy,” in Visual Cultures of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe, 2013: 1-33.

“Francesco Rosselli and Berlinghieri’s Geographia Re-Examined,” Print Quarterly, 28 (2011): 4-17.

“Poet and ‘World Painter’: Francesco Berlinghieri’s Geographia (1482),”Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography 62 (2010): 145-160.

Patricia Emison with contributions by Sean Roberts and Wendy Rappert, The Simple Art: Printed Images in an Age of Magnificence (The Art Gallery of the University of New Hampshire, 2006).


Lia Markey, Imaging the Americas in Medici Florence in Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (2019), 1:2 (2019): 141-142.

Tristan Vigliano, Parler aux Musulmans: Quatre intellectuels face à l'Islam à 'orée de la Renaissance (Librairie Droz, 2016) in The English Historical Review (2019).

Palmira Brummett, Mapping the Ottomans: Sovereignty, Territory, and Identity in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Cambridge University Press, 2016) in The American Historical Review February (2017): 145-146.

Jessica Maier, Rome Measured and Imagined: Early Modern Maps of the Eternal City (University of Chicago Press, 2015) in Art Bulletin 98: (2016): 117-119.

Guido Ruggiero, The Renaissance in Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2014) in European History Quarterly (2016): 386-388.

Benjamin Schmidt, Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) in Comparative Studies in Society and History (2016): 840-842.

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia (Harvard University Press, 2012) in European History Quarterly 47 (2016):189-191.

F. W. Kent, Princely Citizen: Lorenzo de’ Medici and Renaissance Florence (Brepols, 2013) in European History Quarterly 45 (2015):174-175.

“Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life,” Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena CA for CAA Reviews, February 2014.

Alessandro Scafi, Maps of Paradise (University of Chicago Press, 2013) in Canadian Journal of History 49 (2014): 339-340.

Guido Guerzoni, Apollo & Vulcan: The Art Markets in Italy, 1400-1700 (Michigan State University Press, 2011) in Journal of Modern History 86 (2014): 459-461.

James Dougal Fleming ed. The Invention of Discovery,1500-1700 (Ashgate, 2011) in Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science 9 (2012): 280-289.

James G. Harper ed., The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450-1750: Visual Imagery before Orientalism (Ashgate, 2011) in Journal of Early Modern History 16 (2012): 560-562.



Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Co-chair (with Radha Dalal and Jochen Sokoly) for the Ninth Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art “Cities,” November 8-10, 2021.

Doha, Qatar: Co-chair (with Radha Dalal and Jochen Sokoly) for the Eighth Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art “The Seas and the Mobility of Islamic Art,” November 7-9, 2019.    

Knoxville, TN: “The Doha Portrait of Mehmed II,” School of Art, October, 2019.

Milan, Italy: Introduction and moderator for Italian Art Society/Kress Foundation Annual Lecture in Italy, Brera, May 23, 2019.

Toronto, Canada: “Mapping Masculinity in Grand Ducal Livorno,” Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting, April 2019

Beijing, China: “How to Write Global Art History,” paper for International Art Education Conference, Central Academy of Fine Arts, November 3, 2018.

Rome, Italy: Introduction and moderator for Italian Art Society/Kress Foundation Annual Lecture in Italy, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, June 29, 2018.

Beirut, Lebanon: “Re-Naturalizing Bellini’s Portrait of Mehmed II,” lecture for series Beyond Resemblance, American University of Beirut, April 25, 2018.

Doha, Qatar: Moderator for session “Art History Education and Curatorial Training in the 21st Century,” for VCUarts Qatar, UCL, QM and QNRF Symposium, April 8, 2018.

Milwaukee, WI: “Envy, Jealousy, and the Conditions of Renaissance Engraving,” Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, October, 2017.

Tainan, Taiwan: “Mapping Arcadia,” Keynote address for the 11th Conference of the Taiwan Association of Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, National Tainan University of the Arts, October 20, 2017.

Bologna, Italy: discussion moderator and introduction for Italian Art Society/Kress Foundation Annual Lecture in Italy, Università di Bologna, June 7, 2017

Chicago, IL: “Raw Materials and the Globalism of Local Craft in Renaissance Italy,” Renaissance Society of America, Annual Meeting, April 1, 2017.

Chicago, IL: respondent for session, “Eternal Painting? The Meaning and Materiality of Copper Supports,” Renaissance Society of America, Annual Meeting, March 31, 2017

Atlanta, GA: “Strategies of Resistance in Times of Global Flux,” Southern Graphics Council, International Panel, March 2017.

Nicosia, Cyprus: “Charting Crusade in Grand Ducal Florence,” for “Knowledge is Power,” paper for Third Annual Symposium of the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, November 4, 2016.        

Los Angeles, CA: “Early Modern Print Culture and the Islamic World,” Advisory Group Workshop for upcoming Getty/Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, Getty Center, June 2-5, 2016

Los Angeles, CA: “The Renaissance Contribution to the Formation of ‘Islamic Art’: A Response, ” College Art Association, February 24, 2018.

Boston, MA: “Previously Unknown Portraits from Vasari’s Lisbro de’ disegno,” (with Laura Moretti) Renaissance Society of America, Annual Meeting, April 2, 2016.

Boston, MA: “Revisiting a Global Florence,” Renaissance Society of America, Annual Meeting, April 2, 2016.



VCUarts Qatar, Distinguished Achievement in Research Award, 2016-2017

Robert Lehman Fellow, Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, 2014-2015

Huntington Library Long Term Fellowship, 2014-2015 (declined to accept I Tatti Fellowship)

University of Cambridge, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, Visiting Scholar, December 2013-January 2014.

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2006-2008, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Distinguished Dissertation Award, Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan, 2007

J.B. Harley Fellowship for the History of Cartography, British Library, 2006

Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Chester Dale Fellowship, 2004-2005

Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Travel Grant for Independent Research (Italy and Turkey), 2003-2004

Professional Service


President, Italian Art Society, 2017-2019    

Executive Vice President, Italian Art Society 2015-2017