Dr Leah Clark

Profile details


Leah is an Associate Professor in the History of Art and a Fellow of Kellogg College as well as Director of Studies in History of Art.  Previously, she worked at the Open University where her roles included Head of Research and Chair of the MA in Art History. She holds a BA from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver,) an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art (London) and a PhD from McGill University (Montreal).  


Leah’s research explores the exchange and mobility of art objects in the early modern world. Her latest book, Courtly Mediators: Transcultural Objects Between Renaissance Italy and the Islamic World (Cambridge University Press, 2023) investigates the exchange of objects—ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and aromatics—between Italian courts (Ferrara and Naples in particular) and the Mamluk and Ottoman courts in the fifteenth century. Her other publications include Collecting Art in the Italian Renaissance Court:Objects and Exchanges (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and European Art and the Wider World 1350-1550 (co-edited with Kathleen Christian, Manchester University Press, 2017).  She was co-investigator (with Katherine Wilson) of an interdisciplinary research network examining the mobility of objects (MOB) across and beyond European boundaries during the period 1000-1700, funded by the AHRC, which resulted in an exhibition and an edited volume. She is currently working on two projects: a monograph on sensory histories of collecting in the early modern world and another book project on the material and sensory cultures of 'floating worlds' pursuing the intersections of race, gender, and rank aboard early modern ships. She has received awards and fellowships from a variety of institutions including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Italian Government, the AHRC, the Gulbenkian in Lisbon, and the British Academy.  She is co-convenor of the Early Modern Italian World seminar.

Leah's research also engages with the sensorial experiences of early modern objects and she co-organises with Helen Coffey (Music, the Open University) an interdisciplinary annual conference on Early Modern Sensory Experiences (EMSE) at Kellogg College annually. She is the Principal Investigator on the TORCH funded international engagement project, 'Sensory Subjectivities: Identities and Alterity in the Early Modern World’, a partnership with Anuradha Gobin at the University of Calgary, Canada and Helen Coffey. 'Sensory Subjectivities' considers how identities and alterity were constructed in early modernity through sensorial experience and the project runs an online reading group. She is also a convenor of the Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage (DHSH) network, led by Emanuela Vai.

Leah is dedicated to widening participation and has been involved in a number of outreach projects in Art History. In 2016 she foundedOpen Arts Objects, an innovative project that provides free open access films to support the teaching of Art History in schools (shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Awards 2019).  


Leah has taught a wide range of courses in CanadaAmerica, and the UK including Art History courses on the Italian Renaissance, collecting, and transcultural encounters in the early modern world, in addition to cross-disciplinary courses in the Humanities. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). 

Leah teaches on the PGCert and MSt in Historical Studies, the Undergraduate programme in History of Art, and she is Course Director for the MLA (MSt in Literature and Arts). 


Select Publications


Courtly Mediators: Transcultural Objects Between Renaissance Italy and the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press, 2023.

Co-editor with Katherine Wilson, Mobility of Objects Across Boundaries 1000-1700. Liverpool University Press, 2022.

Collecting Art in the Italian Renaissance Court: Objects and Exchanges. Cambridge University Press, 2018.  

Co-editor with Kathleen Christian. European Art and the Wider World 1350-1550 (Book 1, Art and Its Global Histories).  Manchester University Press, 2017.  

Articles and book chapters 

'Artifacts.' In A Cultural History of Color in the Renaissance, edited by Sven Dupré and Amy Buono, 187-203: Bloomsbury, 2021.  

'The Peregrinations of Porcelain: The Collections of Duchess Eleonora d’Aragona of Ferrara', Journal of the History of Collections 32, no. 2 (2020): 275–288.  

‘The Politics of Acquisition: Venetian Objects in Italian Courtly Collections, ca. 1475-1525.' In Typical Venice? Venetian Commodities, 13th-16th Centuries, edited by Philippe Cordez and Ella Beaucamp, 185-99. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020. 

'Objets croisés: Albarelli as vessels of mediation within and beyond the spezieria.'  Études Épistémè 36, no. 29 (2019): 1-25.  

'Chapter 1. Representing the World: Collecting and Display in the Renaissance and Today.' In Collecting and Museology, edited by Andrea Galdy, 1-22. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019. 

‘Objects of Exchange: Diplomatic Entanglements in Fifteenth-century Naples,’ Predella 43, no. 44 (2018): 129-54.  

'From Naples to Ferrara: The Collections of Duchess Eleonora d’Aragona.' In Atti del convegno internazionaleBiagio Rossetti e il suo tempo, edited by Alessandro Ippoliti, 255-64. Rome: Ginevra Bentivoglio Editoria, 2018. 

'Dispersal, Exchange and the Culture of Things in Fifteenth-century Italy.' In The Agency of Things in Medieval and Early Modern Art: Materials, Power and Manipulation, edited by Grażyna JurkowlaniecIka Matyjaszkiewicz and Zuzanna Sarnecka, 77-88. London: Routledge, 2017. 

Co-authored/edited with Nancy Um. ‘Introduction. The Art of Embassy: Situating Objects and Images in the Early Modern Diplomatic Encounter,’ Journal of Early Modern History 20, no. 1 (2016), 3-18.  

‘Collecting and Replicating Antiquities: Casts, Substitutions, and the Culture of the Copy in the Quattrocento,’ Journal of the History of Collections 28.1 (2016): 1-13  

‘Collecting, Exchange, and Sociability in the Renaissance Studiolo,’ Journal of the History of Collections 25. 2 (2013): 171-84.  

‘Transient Possessions: Circulation, Replication, and Transmission of Gems and Jewels in Quattrocento Italy,’ Journal of Early Modern History 15. 3 (2011): 185-221.