Julie James

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Art History & Archaeology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation analyzes the production of Sienese cycles of illustrious men (uomini illustri), a genre depicting historical exemplars from the ancient Greco-Roman past, produced during the Sienese Republic (1155-1555). While these cycles have been previously considered as independent commissions, for the first time this dissertation unites five of the most important cycles of illustrious men, located in the civic, mercantile, and religious centers of the city, to consider a larger pattern of Sienese self-fashioning. Though this genre did not originate in Siena, over the course of a century Sienese artists and patrons adapted this well-known genre to develop a specifically Sienese iconography, ultimately culminating in a powerful demonstration of their role as the true successors of the ancient Roman Republic. To establish how the Sienese utilized this imagery both at home and abroad to proclaim their Roman inheritance, the dissertation also situates Sienese patrons who commissioned cycles of uomini illustri in the surrounding countryside and in Rome. By placing Siena at the center of a complex web of networks, rather than at the outskirts, this dissertation interrogates the convention of illustrious men and asks critical questions of the traditional perception of Siena’s role as a passive recipient of culture in Renaissance Italy following the Black Death.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

William E. Wallace

Committee Members

Robert Henke, Nathaniel B. Jones, Kristina Kleutghen, Claudia Swan,

Available for download on Wednesday, May 10, 2028