Dr Louisa McKenzie

Contact details

Dr Louisa McKenzie
PhD History of Art; MA Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture; MA History of Art; BA (Hons) Theology
Library Assistant
Warburg Institute
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Cultural memory, Digital resources, Gender studies, History, History of art, Manuscript studies, Medieval History, Palaeography
Summary of research interests and expertise:

An art historian, my academic work centres on the devotional art and material culture of late medieval and Renaissance Europe, with a particular focus on Italy. Broadly speaking, my research focuses on intersections between materials, iconography and meaning, and I am particularly interested in how workshop organisation and practice relate to technical and aesthetic exchanges across media. My current project re-evaluates the place of wax sculpture in the wider fine and decorative arts of fifteenth-century Florence. This is the subject of my first monograph, Re-materialising the Florentine Wax Ex-Voto, which is under contract with De Gruyter. Interested in how digital humanities techniques can be harnessed to aid art historical research, I have also developed an interactive digital map of Florentine wax workshops in the period 1300 to 1500, which will be made publicly available online in 2023.

A key aspect of my work is an interest in materiality and its implications for how objects were perceived and used. As such, I co-founded the ongoing lecture and seminar series at the Warburg Institute, A Material World, which focuses on the reconstruction of life in the past through objects and materials, the people who made them and the people who used them.

I am also a member of the extended team for the international collaborative research project, Mapping La Sfera, which applies geospatial tools and analysis to La Sfera, a treatise by Florentine merchant Gregorio ‘Goro’ Dati (part of the wider La Sfera Project)

I have experience of teaching history of art, language skills and digital humanities techniques to students from undergraduate level to lifelong learners at UCL, the Warburg Institute, and in the private sector.

In addition to academic publications, I also write about history, art, collections and exhibitions for a public audience via a range of outlets, with work regularly appearing in The Times (online). 

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
15-Nov-2023 The History of Joséphine Bonaparte's Style - The Times (online)


02-Nov-2023 Ground Control to Miuccia Prada - The Times (online)


05-Oct-2023 The Secret History of Slim Aarons - The Times (online)


19-Sep-2023 Why a 15th-century Gown is So This Season - The Time (online)


07-Sep-2023 Say Bye-Bye to your Biro - The Times (online)


10-Aug-2023 Brigid Berlin: Artist, Socialite and Pioneer of the Selfie - The Times (online)


08-Aug-2023 An Appreciation of Bees - Wellcome Collection Stories


26-Jul-2023 The Beauty Secrets of Renaissance Ladies - The Times (online)


27-Jun-2023 Bookmaking for Bibliophiles and Billionaires - The Times (online)


11-May-2023 A Skull and the Renaissance - The Tablet, online


27-Apr-2023 ‘Waxing Miracles’, Apollo, May 2023, pp. 82-89.


25-Apr-2023 Andy Warhol's Textiles are Finally Back in Fashion - Apollo online, exhibition review


21-Feb-2023 Stones for Healing - Wellcome Collection Stories


01-Mar-2022 Votive Offerings for Healing - Wellcome Collection Stories


15-Jun-2015 The Ghost of Sarah Siddons. In: Marylebone Lives: Rogues, Romantics and Rebels, ed. M. Riddaway and C. Upsall (London: Spiramus, 2015), pp. 54-56.


15-Jun-2015 The Lonely Demise of Benedict Arnold. In: Marylebone Lives: Rogues, Romantics and Rebels, ed. M. Riddaway and C. Upsall (London: Spiramus, 2015), pp. 17-20.


Publications available on SAS-space

Additional Publications

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Waxing devotion: the economic and devotional lifecycles of wax ex-votos in Florence 1300-1500

Drawing together textual, linguistic, legislative, theoretical, economic and visual material, this PhD project at the Warburg Institute, funded by an LAHP (AHRC) Doctoral Studentship, investigated a wide spectrum of issues surrounding the production and use of wax ex-votos in fourteenth and fifteenth-century Florence in order to evaluate these objects as works of art as well as works of devotion. By demonstrating that wax ex-votos and the genre of wax sculpture to which they belonged had a greater aesthetic impact on other works of art than previously understood, it also prompted a re-evaluation of the place of wax sculpture within the wider artistic environment of quattrocento Florence. 

Research outputs: monograph, publication offer received; book chapter in peer-reviewed volume; two articles under peer review; one article in Apollo Magazine; six conference papers. 

Project ran between 2019 and 2023. 

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
20-Sep-2023 ‘Mapping Wax: locations, contexts and networks of wax workshops in quattrocento Florence’ – Artists’ Workshop Practice in the Renaissance, Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell’ Arte, Florence

08-Jun-2023 Between Technology and Theory: Data and Distance - workshop

Co-organiser and panel moderator for this workshop dedicated to the digital humanities. 

06-Jun-2023 Mapping and Data Visualisation for Beginners

Leading this research training seminar for students, ECRs and others, alongside a colleague.   

01-Dec-2022 ‘Waxing on: new approaches to wax as a votive material in Renaissance Florence’ –Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference Virtual

27-Jun-2022 ‘Making yourself in wax: the metamorphic potential of the wax ex-voto’ – Transformative Bodies in the Premodern World: Experiences and Materials, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

09-Jun-2022 Between Technology and Theory: Digital Humanities Projects in Progress - workshop

Co-organiser and panel moderator for this workshop dedicated to the digital humanities. 

07-Jun-2022 Mapping and Data Visualisation for Beginners

Leading this research training seminar for students, ECRs and others, alongside a colleague. 



04-May-2022 ‘The life cycle of a wax ex-voto in late medieval and Renaissance Florence’ – Work in Progress seminar, the Warburg Institute

29-Nov-2021 ‘Schism, obedience and genealogy in Neri di Bicci’s San Giovanni Gualberto Enthroned’ – Neue Tendenzen der Italienforschung zu Mittelalter und Renaissance conference, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome/online

12-Nov-2021 ‘Legislating materiality: wax in Florentine guild statutes 1300-1500’ – 4th Jornadas Complutenses de Arte Medieval: (In)Materiality in Medieval Art, Complutense University of Madrid (online)

13-Apr-2021 ‘Mapping production: wax workshops in Renaissance Florence’ – Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference Virtual

13-Mar-2021 ‘What is my research trajectory’ – ReSkIN (Research Skills Intercollegiate Network) Spring Event, University College London (online)

A Material World lecture and seminar series

Co-founder and co-convenor, 2020-present. 


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