Italian Renaissance Seminar

Fabulous Adventurer and Magnanimous King: The Reception of Alexander the Great in Renaissance Italian Art

Speaker: Dr Claudia Daniotti

Very few figures in history have produced such fascination over the centuries as Alexander the Great. His name, it has been rightly said, “had the spell of youth and glory”, and his captivating figure was re-shaped again and again for two thousand years, with each age creating its own Alexander. In medieval Europe, the ancient commander was turned into a god-like creature, a fearless explorer, a chivalrous knight. The Italian tradition is no exception to this widespread imagery: illuminated manuscripts, mosaics and sculpted reliefs bear witness to the huge popularity of Alexander’s legendary adventures from the Alps to Sicily. And yet, a moment came in Renaissance Italy when the fabulous aura that had surrounded Alexander for centuries evaporated: the Macedonian conqueror was recast as an exemplum of moral virtue and military prowess, the protagonist of iconic paintings by Sodoma, Perin del Vaga, and Paolo Veronese. This talk will discuss precisely this turning point in the tradition that happened in Renaissance Italy, from the Sala Baronale in the Castle of La Manta to the Sala di Alessandro in the Castle of Bracciano, with the aim of shedding new light into the Renaissance reinvention of Alexander.

Claudia Daniotti is a specialist of Italian Renaissance art with an emphasis on iconography and the reception of classical antiquity. Currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick, she holds a PhD from the Warburg Institute and has lectured for years both in academia and museums, including the Universities of Buckingham and Bath Spa, and the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York. Claudia has long been working to the posthumous life of Alexander the Great, and her monograph Reinventing Alexander: Myth, Legend, History in Renaissance Italian Art was published by Brepols in December 2022.

Organised by Dr Guido Rebecchini (The Courtauld) 

This event has passed.

4 May 2023

Thursday 4th May, 5pm - 6.30pm GMT

Free, booking essential

Lecture Theatre 1  Vernon Square 

This is an in person event at our Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event begins.


Design for a playing or tarot card depicting a male figure in red armour holding a large red sword.
Alexander as King of Swords, from the Sola-Busca Tarocchi, c. 1470-1491, Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera