Rose King

Research title: Women in Venetian Renaissance Painting from Giorgione to Tintoretto: Gender, Archetypes, Tradition and Style 

Research Summary

My research examines the ways in which representations of women and the role of ‘femininity’ developed in sixteenth-century Venetian art. The portrayal of women captivated the Venetian paintbrush; female figures were often depicted in enigmatic and novel ways, immediately attracting attention in physicality, gaze and gesture. Moreover, Venetian art was perceived and described as ‘feminine’ in treatises devoted to Venetian painting as well as art criticism that deemed its sensuality and colore as inferior to the ‘masculinity’ and rationality of drawing (disegno) practiced and championed in contemporary Rome and Florence. With these details in mind this study will attempt to answer the following question: To what extent can ideas and imagery of 'the feminine' be said to have defined Venetian Renaissance art of the sixteenth century?

My thesis will explore the idea that Venetian artists developed unprecedented ways of depicting women, generating a range of potentially affirmative roles and/or identities that went beyond those defined (or permitted) in other artistic centres of the Renaissance. Drawing on extensive archival research and visual analysis, this thesis will investigate the expanding iconography of women in key Venetian picture types (e.g. mythologies, allegories, religious works and portraiture) and will observe distinctions and continuities between the works of different masters depicting this theme. It will also consider crucial contextual factors such as social and religious attitudes to women, art patronage and collecting, as well as artistic techniques and art theory.

Research Interests:

Venetian Renaissance art, especially Tintoretto

The art of Venetian religious orders and confraternities

Representations of women 

Love and the erotic in art

History of display, presentation and collecting


I completed my MA (Hons) in History of Art at the University of St Andrews in 2013, and graduated with an MLitt in History of Art from the University of Glasgow in 2016. My MLitt thesis, entitled ‘Tintoretto’s Anonymous Women: Picturing Charity, Compassion and the Venetian Working Woman’, explored how Tintoretto ascribed women an unusually central and positive role in his works.  


University of Glasgow College of Arts PhD Scholarship (2017-2020)


Workshop Paper: ‘Venetian Renaissance Illustrated Books in University of Glasgow Special Collections’ (The Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Workshops in the Arts & Humanities - Venetian Renaissance prints, drawings and illustrated books in Scottish collections, Workshop II, University of St Andrews, 2 December 2016)