Color photograph of the head of a light skinned woman with brown hair and wearing glasses; green trees can be seen behind her as she looks at the camera

Sara L. Petrilli-Jones

Samuel H. Kress Foundation/Donald and Maria Cox Rome Prize
September 1, 2023–July 5, 2024
PhD Candidate, Yale University and Scuola Normale Superiore
Project title
Drafting the Canon: Legal Histories of Art in Florence and Rome, 1600–1800
Project description

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, political authorities in Florence and Rome drafted unprecedented volumes of law dedicated to the safeguarding (tutela) and circulation of artworks and antiquities. My dissertation seeks to unravel the political, cultural, and ideological developments that underpin this proliferation of patrimony laws. At the same time, it attempts to recover such laws’ dynamic relationship to the history of art and to artistic production—parallel strategies for constructing, or solidifying, local identities and canons. Broadly, the goals of my project are twofold: to understand the roots of terms and categories traditionally used to organize and describe the history of Italian art; and to revise and deepen our understanding of patrimony as a legal and cultural phenomenon. At the Academy, I will focus on Rome during the long eighteenth century, from the close of the art historian Giovanni Pietro Bellori’s tenure as commissioner of antiquities (1694) through the struggles for restitution of artworks removed from the city under Napoleon Bonaparte (ca. 1815–16). While in residence, I will conduct extensive primary research in Roman archives and the Academy’s own collections.

The photograph of Sara L. Petrilli-Jones was taken by Deniz Saip.