Joost Joustra - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Joost Joustra

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Dr Joost Joustra

Sackler Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow

Art of the Invisible 

One of the greatest challenges for the visual artist is representing the invisible subject. Artists working in media based on perception, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography, must devise strategies to visualise the invisible. Visual representation of the invisible is a foundational paradox of art. My collaborative research project at The Sackler Research Forum proposes an investigation of these artistic strategies, across disciplinary, chronological, geographical, and medial boundaries. It aims to bring together a variety of scholars and practitioners to examine the problems and strategies for visualising the invisible, providing answers across these boundaries.


PhD Thesis: Pictorial Space and Sacred Subject Matter in Florentine Painting, 1425–1466 (Supervised by Dr Scott Nethersole)

Between 1425 and 1466, a generation of Florentine painters experimented with pictorial space. Linear perspective was only one of their investigations. The challenge of representing sacred subjects required painters to counter or adapt ‘objective’ illusionism of perspectival space. Simultaneously, humanists rediscovered and engaged with patristic texts that dealt with sacred subject matter.

This thesis explores how early Florentine Renaissance artists challenged the possibilities of representation at the same time as embracing them. It argues that instead of a teleological strive for representation of the visible; these painters were sensitive to the needs of Christian painting. Beyond the confines of Leon Battista Albert’s De pictura, it asserts that pictorial space did not only serve verism, but was used to convey the sacred by countering the expectations set up by perspectival illusionism.


• PhD, History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2016)

• MA, History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2012)

• MA, History of Art, Leiden University (2011)

• BA, History of Art, Leiden University (2010)


• BA2 & Postgraduate Diploma, Constellations: Art Theory in Italy in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century (Associate Lecturer)

• BA1, Central Italian Renaissance Art in London Collections (Associate Lecturer)

• MA, Continuity and Innovation: Reframing Renaissance Art          from Masaccio to Michelangelo (Teaching Assistant)

• MA, Core Methodology (Teaching Assistant)

• BA2, Object Positions (Lessons in Interpretation) (Teaching Assistant)

Research interests

• The creation, functioning, and meaning of pictorial space

• Christian art and the paradox of representation

• The patristic Renaissance

• The historiography of art

Publications & Conference Papers

Fathers, Sons, and Virgins: Filippino’s Tondi in San Gimignano and the Space of the Annunciation, NIKI (Dutch University Institute for Art History), Florence, 1 December 2017.

Lapidation and Lapis Angularis: Fra Filippo Lippi’s Stoning of St. Stephen in Prato, The Sackler Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 15 November 2017.

• Space Oddity? Masaccio’s Transcendental Trinity, the 63d Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Chicago, 1 April 2017.

Saints and Structure in Fra Filippo Lippi’s Landscape Adoration, given at the 2015 Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 6 March 2015.

• The Sacra Conversazione Reconsidered: Visual Unity & Division in the Pala Quadrata, given at ‘Beguiling Structures: Architecture in European Painting, 1300 – 1550,’ The National Gallery, London, 19 September 2014

The Afterlife of Saint Augustine’s ‘On the Greatness of the Soul’: Space and Theology in Alberti’s De pictura’, given at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New York City, 28 March 2014

Deceiving Room(s): Fra Filippo Lippi’s ‘Bartolini Tondo’, given at ‘VIEW: A Festival of Art History,’ Institut Français, London, 8 February 2014

• Catalogue entries for Occhio! Verborgen tekeningen uit Italië, Leiden University Library, 12 May – 27 September 2012



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