Alice Zamboni

PhD student

Thesis: The body in the book: visualisation and cognition of the human body among artists and physicians in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic.

Supervised by: Prof. Joanna Woodall 

Funded by: CHASE 

A topos of early modern art and medical literature holds that knowledge of anatomy (anatomie) typifies a physician’s engagement with the body and determines an artist’s successful depiction of the human figure. My thesis takes this semantic and epistemic intersection between medicine and art as starting point to examine the significance of anatomie for art and medical practitioners in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. Through a focus on illustrated anatomy treatises conceived by and for artists and physicians, I explore the visualisation of the human body among artists and anatomists.

This thematic organisation enables comparative analysis of engravings and etchings embedded in books authored by artists and physicians – visual material normally discussed under the distinctive headings of medical imagery and art. Throughout, the prints’ shared didactic function will be foregrounded, their stylistic disparity and epistemic import analysed in relation to the purposes which the prints served in the eyes of historically situated beholders with distinctive backgrounds, but intersecting interests. In assaying the production, use and reception of the visual material, my thesis seeks to investigate the role of visual representation in the constitution of knowledge about the corporeal form, and the distinctive taxonomies of the body that emerge from illustrated anatomy books. In so doing, I propose to show that artists and physicians’ illustrated accounts of the human body can shed new light on the dialogue between art and anatomy in the seventeenth century.


  • 2017 – present, PhD Candidate at the Courtauld Institute;
  • January-May 2019: fellowship at the University of Utrecht, Artechne Project
  • 2016-2017, MA, The Courtauld Institute of Art (Distinction) Special Option: “Bodies of Knowledge in the early modern Netherlands, 1540-1650.” Award: The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Overall Performance at MA level
  • 2012-2016, MA (Hons), University of St Andrews, Art History and German (1st Class). Awards: The Miller Prize for most outstanding student graduating in the Faculty of Arts; The Principal Scholarship for Academic Excellence; O. E. Saunders Prize for Best Short Dissertation in Art History

Research interests

  • Prints and the dissemination of knowledge
  • Epistemic images and the concept of nae ‘t leven / ad vivum
  • Reproductive printmaking
  • Collaboration in print and painting production



Associate Lecturer: BA1 Topic Course Looking at the overlooked. Still life in early modern Europe


Teaching assistant: BA1 Foundations (Autumn Term 2019); BA3 Special Option Course Trading Identities in the early modern Netherlands (guest lectures – Autumn Term 2019); MA Bodies of Knowledge in the early modern Netherlands (guest lectures – Spring Term 2020)

Other academic activities

  • Co-organiser of the eighth Early Modern Postgraduate Symposium Perceiving Processions, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 24th November 2018
  • Associate editor for the Courtauld peer-reviewed postgraduate journal Immediations
  • Dutch Palaeography training at the University of Columbia (June 2018)
  • Placement with the Research Development Team, Wellcome Collection, London (spring term 2020)
  • Placement with the British Library: Cataloguing Hans Sloane’s Natural History Albums (spring-autumn 2021)


Alice Zamboni, ‘Making contact. Friendship and collaboration in the circle of Netherlandish artists at the Munich court of Wilhelm V’, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 70 (2020), 62-95.

Conference papers

“Models of mobility: statues and the study of the living body in the Dutch Republic”. Cambridge Workshop for the early modern period, 15 March 2021.

“The anatomy of statues in Jan de Bisschop’s Signorum veterum Icones (The Hague: 1668).” The Courtauld Third Year PhD Symposium, 8-9 October 2020.

“A Dutch artist as reader and user of J. van der Gracht’s Anatomie”. Early Modern Matters. Materiality and the Archive, The University of East Anglia, 11-12 May 2019.

“The body as a text. Crispijn de Passe’s ‘T Licht der teken- en schilderkonst and 17th-century Dutch artists’ study of anatomy”. Paper presented at History of Art seminar at the University of Amsterdam, 11 April 2019.

“Making Contact. Collaborative printmaking in the group of Netherlandish artists at the Munich court of Wilhelm V.” International Conference Many Antwerp Hands, Rubenianum, Antwerp 5-6 November 2018.

“A schilderkundige anatomie? Dutch artists as learners of anatomy in the 17th- century Dutch Republic.” Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, The University of Exeter, 7-8 June 2018.