Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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Richard Checketts

Lecturer in Renaissance Art and Culture | Programme Director, MA History of Art | Exams Officer

Fine Art Building, Room 3.15


Materials and material transformation; materialist thought.


I returned to the University of Leeds in autumn 2011 as Lecturer in Renaissance Art and Culture, having previously held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to work on eighteenth-century art theory. For the two years between I was based at the Victoria & Albert Museum, teaching on the Renaissance, within the postgraduate programme in History of Design run jointly with the Royal College of Art. My PhD, supervised by Professor Alex Potts and Dr Christine Stevenson, looked at the art theories of the third Earl of Shaftesbury and William Hogarth in relation to eighteenth-century writings on money and manufacture.

I am an Editorial Board member for the journal Art History.


Research Interests

My research centres on ideas about materials in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. Broadly this involves tracing the connections, resistances, and transformations registered between made objects and questions about materiality in other spheres of the culture – both in the direct engagements with such questions in scientific/philosophical thought of the period, and also in a more extensive and open series of discourses and practices, from religion, to economics, to law. Two forthcoming projects, respectively on glass and polychrome marble, try to draw out some of the ways in which the handling of materials might register or think through wider uncertainties around value, material creation, faith, and politics/ethics in this period.



‘The Value of Broken Glass’ [article, forthcoming].

The Altieri Chapel and the Transformations of Baroque Rome [monograph, forthcoming].

Review of Stone: A Legacy and Inspiration for Art, ed. Andrew Patrizio (London: Black Dog, 2011) Sculpture Journal, 23:3 (2014), pp. 413-414.

‘Shaftesbury’s Theory of Art: Substance and Virtue’ in Oxford Art Journal, 37:1 (2014), pp. 33–98.

‘Pleasure’s Objects: Manufacture, Commodities, and the Art Theories of Shaftesbury and Hogarth’, in Anglia: Zeitschrift für Englische Philologie, 120:3 (2002), pp. 339–371.


selected conference/seminar presentations/public lectures

‘”Without Intellect or Will”: Materials and Mimesis in the Cappella Altieri in S. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome’, The Matter of Mimesis. Studies on Mimesis and Materials in Nature, Art and Science, University of Cambridge, December 2015.

‘”Candor meus irradiet”: Glass, Money, and the Transformation of Material’, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Norwich University, April 2015.

‘Material’s Potential’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, September 2013.

‘The Value of Broken Glass’, University of Warwick Luxury Network workshop, The Production of Luxury: Skills, Materials, and Networks, Victoria & Albert Museum, July 2013.

‘Substance, Creation and Transformation in the Cappella Altieri in S. Maria Sopra Minerva’, Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, University of York, December 2012.

‘Architecture and the Nature of Stone: The Cappella Altieri and Camillo Massimo’s Collection’, Taiwan Association of Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies, Tunghai University, Taichung, October 2012.

‘Natural History: Work, Stone, and Politics in the Cappella Altieri in S. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome’, At Cross Purposes? When Art History Meets Design History, Courtauld Institute of Art, October 2011.

‘Substance and Force’, Association of Art Historians Student Symposium, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, June 2010 (keynote paper).

‘Shaftesbury’s Theory of Art: Substance and Identity’, Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, London, March 2010.

‘Adam van Vianen’s Silver: The Perception of Substance and Property’, College Art Association Annual Conference, Chicago, February 2010.


conferences/panels/workshops/seminars organised

Material Translations, co-convened with Dr Marta Ajmar (V&A) and Dr Christine Guth (Royal College of Art), Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, London April 2014. [http://aah.org.uk/annual-conference/sessions2014/session19]

The Production of Ornament: Reassessing the Decorative in History and Practice, two-day international conference co-organised with Dr Lara Eggleton (Leeds and Manchester), The University of Leeds, March 2014. [http://productionofornament.wordpress.com/]

Transmaterialities: Materials, Process, History, co-convened with Dr Marta Ajmar (V&A), College Art Association Annual Conference, New York February 2013. [http://conference.collegeart.org/2013/sessions/]

Skill, research seminar in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, autumn/winter semester 2012–13.

Skin and Bone, workshop co-convened with Dr Marta Ajmar (V&A) and Dr Victor Buchli (University College London), Department of Anthropology, University College London, February 2012.

The Bone Workshops, two workshops co-convened with Dr Marta Ajmar (V&A) and Dr Victor Buchli (University College London), Victoria & Albert Museum, May 2011.

Robert H. Smith Renaissance Sculpture in Context lectures and postgraduate workshops, co-convened with Peta Motture (V&A), 2010.




My undergraduate teaching addresses a broad range of topics related to the European Renaissance (up to the seventeenth century). As well as introducing key issues such as patronage, display, Humanism, and questions of gender specific to this field, particular areas of focus, in line with my research, currently include the materiality of Renaissance objects, questions of technology and skill, and encounters with cultures beyond Europe. I contribute to the co-taught Level-1 course A Story of Art 1; at Level 2 I teach Renaissance / Anti-renaissance: Critical Approaches to Early Modern Art in Europe, and Borromini and the Roman Baroque: Skill, Knowledge, and Material’s Potential; and at Level 3 Unmaking Things: Materials and Ideas in the European Renaissance. Recent undergraduate dissertation topics have included Renaissance cultures of the machine; politics and papal patronage in Roman urbanism; Caravaggio and the Counter-Reformation; gender and gift-giving; Palladio; political uses of alchemical imagery; architectural patronage in Florence; Mannerism and sex; and ideal cities.

For the MA History of Art programme, I teach the Core Module, and on ideas of materiality in the Renaissance. Teaching/supervision on any areas of my research can also be arranged by agreement through the Individual Directed Study module, and/or through the dissertation.


Programme Director, MA History of Art

Exams Officer

Research Centres & Groups

Centre for Critical Materialist Studies 

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Current and recent supervision:

Luisa Lorenza Corna, Thinking Through Antinomies: An Enquiry into Manfredo Tafuri’s Historical Method, co-supervised with Dr Gail Day, completed 2016

Richard Bellis, The making of Matthew Baillie’s Morbid Anatomy and its accompanying engravings: how eighteenth century anatomical knowledge was made from the dissection table to the printed book, co-supervised with Dr Jonathan Topham, and Dr Adrian Wilson (both in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science)

Giulia Zanon, Citizenship, Scuole Grandi and Artistic Patronage in Early Modern Venice, co-supervised with Dr Alex Bamji (School of History)


I am willing to discuss supervision of research in the following areas:

  • European Renaissance and Baroque art, architecture, and design, particularly in relation to philosophical, economic, and political thought and practice.
  • Encounters in this period between Europe and Asia and Africa.
  • Renaissance and Early Modern art- and architectural theory (up to and including the eighteenth century).
  • Historiography and critically engaged approaches to the history of Renaissance and Baroque art, architecture, and theory.
  • Histories and theories of ornament.
  • Historical and critical approaches to materiality, making, and skill (within an open geographical and chronological framework).

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