B.A., Yale University, 2003
M.A., Harvard University, 2006
Ph.D., Harvard University 2011
Marisa Bass is a scholar of early modern art in northern Europe, with a focus on intersections between art and intellectual culture in the Netherlands. Her research interests include the representation of nature, the cult of images, portraiture, Renaissance notions of imagination and invention, print culture, and the funerary monument.
Her first book, Jan Gossart and the Invention of Netherlandish Antiquity (Princeton 2016) takes the mythological paintings of Jan Gossart and the local revival of antiquity in the Netherlands as a starting point to critically redefine the notion of a “northern Renaissance.” She also recently co-curated with Elizabeth Wyckoff the exhibition Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print, which explores Hieronymus Bosch’s neglected legacy in the print medium well into the seventeenth century. The exhibition opened at the St. Louis Art Museum in 2015 and traveled to the Harvard Art Museums in early spring 2016.
Bass is currently completing her second book, Insect Artifice: Nature and the Crisis of Art in the Dutch Revolt, to be published in 2018. Her study traces how the religious and political upheaval of the mid-sixteenth-century Low Countries spurred engagement with the new science of natural history, and particularly how the experience of iconoclastic destruction and inquisition motivated a turn to the representation of nature as a site of generation, transformation, and rebirth. At its center is a microhistory of the virtuosic artist and polymath Joris Hoefnagel, who fled into exile from the Netherlands in response to the wartime upheaval of the Revolt, and whose stunning miniature paintings of animals and insects embody his desire to understand the fraught boundary between nature and human nature. Future projects include a book on the public monument in the Dutch Republic and a book, or series of articles, on the question of Erasmus and the visual arts.
She was recently a Member in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2015-2016) and a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (summer 2016). She has held previous fellowships at the Huntington Library, the Scaliger Institute, the Warburg Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. In spring 2017, she will be a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Amsterdam.
Bass teaches widely in the field of Renaissance art and material culture. She particularly welcomes applications from students with a background or interest in intellectual history, and who wish to think across and beyond the traditional boundaries of early modern art history.
Insect Artifice: Nature and the Crisis of Art in the Dutch Revolt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming 2018).