Foregrounding the Background of Italian Renaissance Painting, c.1450 - c.1550
Supervisor: Geraldine Johnson
Ang Li is a D.Phil candidate in Italian Renaissance art, with a focus on the theory and practice of painting of the Quattrocento and early Cinquecento. His doctoral thesis, tentatively entitled 'Foregrounding the Background of Italian Renaissance Painting, c.1450 - c.1550', will discuss how the dual conceptions of ground and background as implied in the period term campo could have informed the making and reception of fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Italian paintings.
Ang's doctoral thesis will provide a previously unavailable critical understanding of the reasons for diverse choices of backgrounds in Italian Renaissance paintings roughly between 1450 and 1550. In order to complement previous selective approaches which focus on one key type of painted or gilded background, the current thesis will adopt a more general approach by considering the debatable role Alberti plays in the development of painted backgrounds of various genres. It will complicate our understanding of the teleology from gold grounds to a variety of painted backgrounds in Italian Renaissance paintings by considering in turn a variety of such backgrounds in the period in question. By arguing that backgrounds are bearers of meaning, the thesis will help us better understand the significance of Renaissance painting, which not only centres on the figure but also on the background.
Ang is generally interested in the meaning and context of Renaissance art, theories of vision, and painting and beholder in the early modern period. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Zhejiang University and two MSc degrees in Early Modern Studies and History of Art from the University of Edinburgh. Ang's doctoral research is supported by Inger Lawrance Prize, China Oxford Scholarship Fund and Great Britain-China Educational Trust and his fieldwork in Italy is funded by Erasmus Grants, Isaiah Berlin Scholarship and Colin Matthew Fund.
‘Rhetoric and Piety in Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks’, in Fan Jingzhong et al (eds), 《美术史与观念史》(History of Art and History of Ideas) XV, (Nanjing Normal University Press, 2014), pp. 63-92. https://www.academia.edu/52895103
'(Un)veiling the Gaze: The Allure of Landscape in Renaissance Paintings', in Niko Munz, Sumihiro Oki and Charley Ladee (eds), Perspectives on Early Renaissance Pictorial Space (Turnhout: Brepols, 2023) (forthcoming)
'Terminology of Ground/Background in Renaissance Art Theory: A Chinese Perspective', PhD Kolloquium of Prof. Claudia Blümle, Humboldt University of Berlin (21 July 2022).
'The Fertility of the Campo: Possessive Gaze and Landscape Backgrounds in Italian Renaissance Paintings', Workshop for the Early Modern Period, University of Cambridge (20 June 2022).
'Leonardo, campo and chiaroscuro', Light & Darkness in Pre-Modern Visual Cultures, Courtauld Institute of Art (23 November 2018).
'The Revival of Gold Ground in Late Fifteenth-Century Italian Paintings', New Dialogues in Art History, The Warburg Institute (26 September 2018).