Alexander Röstel - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Alexander Röstel

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Alexander Röstel

PhD student

Thesis: Florentine Patronage Networks during the 1490s: The Corbinelli, Gondi and Martini-Salviati Families

Supervised by Scott Nethersole

Funded by Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England

My dissertation offers an interconnected account of the patronage networks operating in Florence during the final decade of the fifteenth century. This decade witnessed in close succession the end of Medici supremacy and the rise and fall of the Dominican preacher Girolamo Savonarola. Analogously, scholars have tended to subdivide the artistic patronage into Medicean and Savonarolan, notwithstanding the difficulty in defining and delimiting such categories. Other scholars have circumvented this issue by detecting a decline in the production of art, giving little attention, however, to both visual and archival material that proves the opposite. While there is much evidence in support of artistic commissions mediated by the Medici family as well as Savonarola’s firm belief in the intermediary and pedagogical nature of images, this thesis seeks to challenge the perceived dualism, emphasising the continuities rather than the crisis of artistic production during the period in question. In doing so, I selected three closely related architectural altarpieces that were commissioned and executed between 1491 and 1495: the Corbinelli Altarpiece (S. Spirito, Florence), the Gondi Altarpiece (Cathedral, Fiesole) and the Martini-Salviati Altarpiece (formerly S. Girolamo, Fiesole). A wealth of unpublished documents will allow me to provide an account of the cultural and religious environment within which patrons commissioned these works, artists operated, and the works of art themselves were created. Thus, my thesis will address specific works of art as much as the people, vicissitudes, and documents that surround them. Ultimately, I hope to understand the factors that drove their design. It is this quest that holds great potential to enhance our understanding of the role of art in times of political, economic and social turmoil.


  • 2014-present
    Courtauld Institute of Art, PhD
    Supervisors: Dr Scott Nethersole & Dr Guido Rebecchini
    Dissertation: Florentine Patronage Networks during the 1490s: The Corbinelli, Gondi and Martini-Salviati Families
    Awards: AHRC Scholarship
  • 2013-2014
    Courtauld Institute of Art
    MA in The Arts of Florence and Central Italy, 1400-1500
    Supervisor: Dr Scott Nethersole
    Dissertation: ‘Una Chiesa Antichissima’: Reconstructing the Florentine Church of San Paolino (Distinction & Director’s Prize)
    Awards: Friends of the Courtauld Scholarship
  • 2010-2013
    University of Cambridge
    BA in History of Art
    Supervisors: Prof Jean Michel Massing, Prof Paul Joannides, Prof Deborah Howard & Duncan Robinson
    Dissertation: The Casa Buonarroti Saint Nicholas Predella in Context (First Class)
    Awards: St Edmund’s College Tutorial Award
  • 2007-2010
    Berlin School of Economics & IBM Germany
    BA in International Business Administration
    Supervisors: Prof Jan Roxin
    Dissertation: The Benefits of and Approaches to Corporate Sponsoring in the Fine Arts (Mehrwert durch Kulturförderung: Ansätze zur bilateral effektiven Gestaltung von unternehmerischen Sponsoringaktivitäten im Bereich der Schönen Künste)

Research interests

  • Italian Art and Architecture between 1300-1700 (in particular Florentine art in the second half of the fifteenth century and the artist Sandro Botticelli)
  • Patronage Networks
  • Collection, Display and Reception of early Italian art in later periods
  • The relationship between art and opera

Conference papers and lectures

  • Giuliano da Sangallo 1516-2016
    Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, 17 November 2016
    “Giuliano da Sangallo and the Ospedale degli Innocenti”
  • Sixteenth Century Society Conference
    Bruges, 19 August 2016
    “Andrea Sansovino and the Role of Artistic Patronage Networks in Renaissance Florence”
  • Against the Medici: Art and Dissent in Early Modern Italy
    Florence, 26 May 2016
    “The Art of Consent: The Political Dimensions of Style”
  • Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting
    Berlin, 28 March 2015
    “Habemus paulum”: Reconstructing the Florentine Church of San Paolino
  • Berlin Remixed: Papers on Italian Art and Architecture
    Courtauld Institute, London, 30 April 2015
    “Habemus paulum”: Reconstructing the Florentine Church of San Paolino”
  • Researching The Courtauld Collections: Conservation and Art-Historical Analysis
    The Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, London, January and May 2015
    “Bartolomeo Montagna’s Gambier-Perry Holy Family in Context” (with Jae Youn Chung)

Recent publications

  • “Sandro Botticelli: Berlin and London”, Exhibition Review, The Burlington Magazine, 158 (2016), pp. 477-478
  • ‘“Una Pieta chon molte figure”: Sandro Botticelli’s Altarpiece for the Florentine Church of San Paolino’, The Burlington Magazine, 157 (2015), pp. 521-529.
  • “Intensiver Blick und virtuose Strichführung: Bernini als Zeichner”, Exhibition Review, Kunstchronik, 68 (2015), pp. 440-446
  • (with Jae Youn Chung), “‘A wonderfully pure picture’: Tracing Bartolomeo Montagna’s Holy Family”, Museo in Rivista, 6, 2016 (forthcoming)
  • “The Liberation of Piero di Cosimo”, Exhibition Review, Renaissance Studies (forthcoming)
  • Schumacher, A. (ed.), with contributions by Kranz, A., Hojer, A., Syre, C., Karl, D. & Fischer, U., assisted by Röstel, A., Catalogue Raisonné of Florentine Paintings in the Bavarian State Collections, 1300-1600 (forthcoming)


  • ICOM, Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker, Renaissance Society of America, Kaiser-Friedrich Museumsverein, Freunde und Förderer der Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Professional Experience

  • Research and Exhibition Assistant, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek (since 2012)
  • Renaissance Section Assistant and Research Assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2014-2015)
  • Management Consultant, I.B.M. Global Business Services (from 2007-2010)


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