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Dorigen Caldwell

  • Overview



    I did my BA in Art History at UCL, folllowed by a Masters and PhD at the Warburg Institute, University of London. I first taught at Birkbeck as an Associate Lecturer in 1998 and have held a permanent position since 2005. I was awarded a Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship in 1999 to undertake postdoctoral research in Rome where I also taught at the American University in Rome and at Trinity College, Rome campus. I have also taught at UCL.


    • PhD, University of London, 1998

    Honours and awards

    • Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Leverhulme Trust, November 2020


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Early Modern Rome
    • Religious Imagery and the Catholic Reformation
    • The City of Rome
    • Text and Iimage in the Italian Renaissance and Baroque

    Research overview

    My main research interests at present focus on the art of the later sixteenth century in Italy and most particularly in Rome. In recent years I have been looking at Marian cults in Central Italy, with a focus on an Umbrian church built around a miraculous image of the Virgin. I also have a longstanding interest in the cult that grew up around the Madonna di Loreto. I am currently working on a chapel in the Roman church of Sant'Onofrio that was decorated at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and am working towards a book exploring the imagery, patronage and broader political and devotional context of early modern Rome.

    In recent years I have published on later sixteenth-century Roman art and patronage, with a particular interest in debates around images during the Catholic Reformation. I am also interested in the relationship between courtly culture and the climate of reform.

    I have always had a broad interest in the history and evolution of the city of Rome from antiquity to the present day, and have edited a collection of essays exploring the relationship between the city and its past.

    In my doctoral and postdoctoral work I focused on the personal symbolic devices known as 'imprese', which were popular through the sixteenth century and engendered an extensive theoretical literature. I was particular interested in the interaction between word and image in these devices, and the intersection of literary and intellectual cultural with the visual arts remains an area of research.

    Research Centres and Institutes

    • Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

    Research clusters and groups

    • co-convenor, Murray Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Art
    • convenor, Rome Lecture Series
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I supervise topics on Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture, with a particular focus on the later sixteenth century, and on Rome.

    I also have an interest in cultural and intellectual history of the early modern period in Italy, symbolic images, and the classical tradition.

    In addition to the students listed below who I have supervised as primary or co-supervisor, I have supervised a number of students in the capacity of second supervisor, including:

    Frank Ferrie (who completed his dissertation on the 'Madonna del Parto' in 2016)

    and, currently, Morag Mclintock (who is writing her dissertation on: Art, family and status in fourteenth century Italy: the Lupi in Parma, Florence and Padua.')

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    I teach all aspects of Italian art from the fifteenth through to the seventeenth century, including painting, sculpture and architecture, and also occasionally teach on classical art. I generally contribute to 'team-taught' modules on the BA, including Materials and Processes, Art History: a Survey, Art and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance and Debates in Art History. I also teach on the core courses of the MA History of Art and the MA Renaissance Studies.

    I usually offer MA options on Religious art of the Catholic Reformation and the the City of Rome.

    Teaching modules

    • Rome: Place, Continuity and Memory (AHVM084S7)
    • The Arts: Perspectives and Possibilities (ARAR008S3)
    • Dissertation (ARVC220S6)
    • Dissertation (ARVC220S6)
    • Art and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (ARVC239S5)
    • Art and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (ARVC239S5)
    • Frameworks: Histories and Theories of Art, Architecture, Photography (ARVC247S7)
    • Art in London (ARVC295S4)
    • Art in London (ARVC295S4)
    • Art in Baroque Rome (ARVC298H6)
  • Publications




    Book Section

    Conference Item

    External Repositories

  • Business and community

    Business and community


    I am happy to receive enquiries from the media on the following topics:

    • Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture
    • Italian Baroque Art and Architecture


      I teach regularly at the Victoria and Albert Museum on their Year Courses.

      In 2020 I appeared in the BBC4 documentary on Michelangelo: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as part of their series Art on the BBC.

      In 2021 I appeared as a guest on the 'History, Art and Music' podcast hosted by David McAlmont for Boogaloo Radio