School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of Gaby Neher

Gaby Neher

Associate Professor in Art History, Faculty of Arts



I moved from Germany to Great Britain in 1989, and in 1990 enrolled at the university of Aberdeen for a Joint honours degree in English and Art History. After graduating with First Class honours, I started a doctoral dissertation on Renaissance Brescia, and especially the work of the two painters Moretto and Romanino under the supervision of Professor Paul Hills, and was awarded my PhD in 2000. when I accepted a temporary, 2- year appointment at Nottingham in 1997, I had no idea that I would still be here in 2014, still teaching on Renaissance Art, and increasingly invested in a number of extra-curricular activities such as the a student- led curatorial initiative, Crop up gallery! and especially a range of student- led peer mentoring schemes.

Expertise Summary

Cultural Relations of smaller, provincial centres to a dominant political overlord, with particular focus on the relation of such Northern Italian centres as Brescia and Verona to Venice in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and issues of identity and patronage in sixteenth cebtury Northern Italian painting, espcially in Brescia and the Magno Palazzo in Trento. These issues feed into work on Romanino's activities in the mountainous regions north of Brescia, in the Val Camonica. Further research and teaching interests include Art and Religion; Italy and the North; Women in Renaissance Art. I am currently working on a monograph that looks at Brescia, Verona and Venice, where my main focus is to address the question of cultural exchange between political overlord and subject town, or, phrased differently, between a visually dominant centre and a culturally subject periphery.I hope to argue that artistic exchange in the Veneto between 1400- 1600 was not one-directional, that is moving exclusively from the centre, Venice, to the periphery (Verona and Brescia), but that the process also worked in reverse, from the periphery to the centre.

These ideas can be introduced by consideration of the argument that ' simple imposition of Venetian authority upon the cities of the terra ferma was impossible, given distinct and incompatible legal systems, products of the very different historical evolution of Venice and the mainland' (Grubb,1988, xiv). What this meant in reality was that towns with a strong sense of tradition and a firmly established sense of their own visual and civic identity, Venetian rule might manifest itself as only the thinnest of veneers, which goes a long way towards explaining the differences as well as, importantly, the superficial similarities in expression, style and subject-matter of the arts in the cities of the Veneto. In fact, submission to Venetian rule did not necessarily result in an obliteration of a town's cultural and political practices, but instead, often brought about a fostering of a distinctive local tradition. Geographic distance appears to be significant in this process: both Brescia and Verona were sufficiently removed from Venice to be able to persist with local idioms of expression while also selectively choosing to adopt Venetian cultural models.

This study suggests that Venetian acquisition of mainland territories (a process that started in the 14th century, but gained momentum after 1404), marked a new phase in Venetian history, one that directed energies away from an exclusive preoccupation with its maritime outposts in the East, and committed its sometimes rather unwilling citizens to the management, pacification and administration of extensive landholding to the West and outside the protection of the lagoon. The impact of Venetian rule on the culture of the cities it occupied is undeniable, yet what also needs to be considered is the impact of the acquisition of mainland territories on developments, both cultural and political, within Venice itself. This included, crucially, a rethinking of the way in which the visual identity of Venice itself was presented, especially in the major loci of political power, that is, St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace itself.


At present I am supervising one student, Louise Stewart (AHRC funded) on a project on Sixteenth- Century Sugar Sculpture (due for submission September 2014) , while another. One of my research students, Gabriele Matino, gained his doctorate in February 2014. Gabriele Matino wrote his doctoral dissertation on Giovanni Mansueti.

Teaching Summary

I am a National Teaching Fellow (2015) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My teaching grows out of my research interests, and my research focuses on all matters Renaissance, so the modules I am teaching look at different aspects of how people created art and used objects ca 1400-1600. In my first year module on The Courts of Northern Italy, for example, the focus is on princes and elites, and how their demand for ever more costly objects fuelled both the trade of luxury goods and also led to a revival of classical learning. I build on these ideas in my other modules that look at Venice in particular. Other areas I am interested in include the consumption of luxury goods from shoes to ear cleaners to sculpture, both in Italy and at the Tudor Court. My teaching interests in Renaissance Italy are complemented by an interest in issues of art and reform in Germany and England. First and foremost, I want to know why objects are important to people, why so much energy and money is spent on the acquisition and use of objects, and how these objects are then used, worn (where appropriate) and displayed in particular places at a particular time.

One of my other interests which feeds into my teaching is a curiosity about how technology can aid the art historian who may want to know about events and objects that no longer exist, so I draw on literature, maps and diaries as well as on images.

My teaching has been recognised by the University of Nottingham through three Lord Dearing Awards (2013, 2009 and 2000), A Personal Tutor Oscar (2011) and a Chancellor Award (2012). On a National Level, I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2015.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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