Painting the Past: How the Renaissance was Invented

A lecture by Kevin Murphy



Our visual idea of what the places, people and events of the Italian Renaissance looked like, was forged almost exclusively in paint, and more recently than you might think. From the ‘history painters’ of the nineteenth-century who sought historical heroes and villains to comment on modern times, to the French surrealist Marcel Duchamp's readymade Mona Lisa pastiches, the Italian Renaissance has been imagined, politicised, commercialised and lampooned by painters. Their work reveals how the Renaissance could be celebrated or rejected, but never ignored.  By exploring these images we can understand the sources of our collective 'memories' of the Renaissance.


If you are in Florence and would like to attend the lecture in person at the British Institute Library, please register here or send an email to

The registration fee is 12 Euro per person. 


To join this lecture online, simply click on this link to register and receive the Zoom meeting invitation:

The virtual doors will open at 18:00 Italian time on Wednesday 10th April.  


A recording of the virtual lecture will be published on our YouTube channel. Clicking on the link above, you authorise the British Institute of Florence to use your image, name and comments.

There is no charge to attend the event on Zoom, but we ask you to consider making a donation to support the Institute and its beautiful library if you wish to attend an event.




This lecture is sponsored by Janet Strazzulla.