Julia van Zandvoort

PhD student

Thesis: An International Fabric: Sixteenth-century Networks of Tapestry Production and Trade between Flanders and Italy (1517-1566)

Supervisor: Dr Guido Rebecchini

This thesis investigates how Flanders became the centre of an interconnected trans-national network of artists, agents and patrons involved in the production and trade of tapestries in the sixteenth century. Even though the practice of importing tapestries from Flanders into Italy existed well before the sixteenth century, the arrival of Raphael’s cartoons in Brussels in 1517 marked a turning point in this tradition, changing the nature and scale of the market for tapestries, raw materials and designs. The fame of tapestries woven after Italian designs took flight, and after 1517 a growing number of Italian agents, artists, intermediaries, and merchants who were active in the production and trade of tapestries settled in Flanders. Simultaneously, local artists started to employ a new approach to tapestry design that was inspired by these Italian arrivals.

My project aims to trace and explain the developing artistic, cultural, social, and economic exchanges between Italy and Flanders in the wake of this pivotal moment in tapestry design and production. The period under investigation starts with the arrival of the cartoons for the Acts of the Apostles in Brussels in 1517, up until the Iconoclastic Fury of 1566. The thesis focusses especially on issues regarding artistic and cultural mobility, trans-medial translation, stylistic hybridity, and the economic and political importance of tapestries. How were artists steeped in widely different artistic traditions able to collaborate? How did commissioning art which required vast financial investments work at a distance? And how did artists negotiate their specific skills with the challenges of trans-medial execution? By answering such questions, the project aims to broaden our understanding of the international dynamics of the time and the role that tapestries played within them.

Research Interests

  • History of design, production and trade of cartoons and tapestries
  • Papal and courtly patronage in sixteenth-century Italy
  • Trans-medial execution
  • Relationship between Italy and Northern-European countries
  • Decorative arts and sculpture (fifteenth- and sixteenth centuries)


  • PhD Candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2020 – present)
  • MA in History of Art, Special Option: Continuity and Innovation: Reframing Italian Renaissance art from Masaccio to Michelangelo, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2018-2019)
  • BA in History of Art, University of Amsterdam (2013-2017)


  • 2021: Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art: Foundations (BA1)

Fellowships and other activities

  • Research Residency, Rubenianum, Antwerp (February 2022-present)
  • Associate Editor, Immediations (2022)


  • Catalogue entries no. 22 and 23, exhibition catalogue The Art of Experiment: Parmigianino at the Courtauld (2022)

Professional Experience

  • Gallery Manager, Brun Fine Art, London (2020-2021)
  • Junior Specialist, AAG Auctioneers, Amsterdam
  • Curatorial Intern German, Dutch, Flemish paintings before 1800, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main (2018)
  • Research Intern Gerson Digital (RKD), Dutch University Institute (NIKI), Florence (2017)
  • Intern Art Committee, Dutch Central Bank, Amsterdam (2017)
  • Intern Mus.E Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (2016)