Photo of Christina Neilson
  • Associate Professor of Renaissance and Baroque Art History
  • Chair of Art History


  • BA (Honours), University of Sydney, 1997
  • MA, Johns Hopkins University, 2000
  • Doctorate, Johns Hopkins University, 2009


I write and teach on European art of the 14th through 17th centuries, with a special interest in the art of early modern Italy. My research tackles the relationship between theory and practice, especially the meaning of materials and techniques. My PhD dissertation, and the resulting book manuscript, explores the significance of processes of making in the oeuvre of the 15th-century Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio, best known today as a sculptor but who also was a painter, draughtsman, and metalworker.

I co-organised the international conference, Cultural Encounters and Shared Spaces in the Renaissance City, 1300-1700, in memory of Shona Kelly Wray, with historians Roisin Cossar of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, and Filippo De Vivo of Birbeck College, London, at the University of Manitoba in September 2014. I cocurated the exhibition A Picture of Health: Art and the Mechanisms of Healing at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin in spring 2016.

Before joining the faculty at Oberlin, I was an Andrew W. Mellon curatorial fellow at the Frick Collection, New York, where I curated and wrote the catalogue for the exhibition Parmigianino’s Antea: A Beautiful Artifice.

Currently I am working on a number of different projects: the significance of notes hidden within late medieval and early modern sculptures, polychromy as a mode of animation in sculpture, ingenious craftspeople in the age of the miraculous, and visual translations of rhetorical structures in the art of Zurbarán.

I teach intermediate-level classes on Italian Renaissance Art, High Renaissance Art and Mannerism, Baroque Art.

I teach the seminars Love, Lust, and Desire in Renaissance Art  and  Wood, Flesh, Metal, Blood  (on the meaning of materials in early modern art). I also teach the introductory class Approaches to Western Art.

I have published articles on Verrocchio’s techniques of making a silver panel for the altar of the Florentine Baptistery (the Burlington Magazine, Nov. 2012, no. 1316, vol. 154); on the meaning of wood in early modern European sculpture (in The Matter of Art: Materials, Practices, Cultural Logics, c. 1250-1750, coedited with Christy Anderson, Anne Dunlop (Manchester, 2014)); on drawings by Verrocchio (in Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini: Sculptors' Drawings from Renaissance Italy, ed. Michael Cole and Oliver Tostmann, exh. cat. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (London, 2014)); and on Renaissance artists’ workshops as sites for the exchange of knowledge (I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance vol. 19, no. 1 (spring 2016).

My book on Verrocchio is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

My research has been generously supported by grants from the following organizations and foundations:

  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti, Florence)
  • American Philosophical Society
  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)
  • Volkswagen Stiftung (at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
  • Furthermore: A Program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund


  • Christina Neilson Gives Lectures in the United Kingdom

    December 5, 2017

    Christina Neilson, associate professor of Renaissance and Baroque art history, gave three lectures in the United Kingdom. Neilson presented "Wood, Flesh, Vermillion, Blood: Making Supernatural Sculpture" on November 27 in the Department of the History of Art at the University of York. She gave the annual Robert H. Smith Renaissance Sculpture in Context Research Seminar titled, "Animating Automata in the Age of the Miraculous, 1400-1600” on November 29 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Neilson gave a talk, "Incarnating Skin: Polychroming Sculpture in Early Modern Europe" at The Porous Body in Early Modern Europe conference on December 1, at King's College in London.