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Maria DePrano

Professional Title: 
Professor of Art History
ACS 126
Office Hours: 
Italian Renaissance art and architecture
Gender studies
Fifteenth-century Florentine art
Material culture and the domestic interior
Family art patronage in the Florentine Renaissance

Maria DePrano's research explores art patronage, portraiture, women's life passages, memory, and gender roles within the family in early Renaissance Italy. Her monograph, "Art Patronage, Family, and Gender in Renaissance Florence: The Tornabuoni" (Cambridge 2018) examines the multi-media art patronage of three generations of the Tornabuoni family, who commissioned works from artists, such as Sandro Botticelli and Rosso Fiorentino. Best known for commissioning the fresco cycle in Santa Maria Novella by Domenico Ghirlandaio, a key monument of the Florentine Renaissance, the Tornabuoni ordered a number of still-surviving art works, inspired by their commitment to family, knowledge of ancient literature, music, love, loss, and religious devotion. This extensive body of work makes the Tornabuoni a critically important family of art patrons. However, they are further distinguished by the numerous objects they commissioned to honor female relations who served in different family roles, thus deepening understanding of Florentine Renaissance gender relations. Maria presents a comprehensive picture of how one Florentine family commissioned art to gain recognition in their society, revere God, honor family members, especially women, and memorialize deceased loved ones. Maria's articles address the posthumous remembrance of Italian Renaissance women and the domestic interior. For instance, in "Per la anima della Donna: Pregnancy and Death in Domenico Ghirlandaio's Visitation for the Tornabuoni Chapel, Cestello" (Viator, 2011) she considers Ghirlandaio's work as a funerary altarpiece commemorating a young, patrician woman that sensitively focuses upon themes of importance to married Renaissance women, namely, fertility, childbirth, death, and the hope for life after death. In "Lux Aeterna" (Early Modern Women, 2011) Maria analyzes the weight of wax candles used for memorial masses for deceased females recorded in the "Libro dell entrata e uscita di cera" (Book of the Entrance and Exit of Wax). Maria also researches the domestic interior, as Renaissance women spent a significant portion of their lives sequestered in the home. Her article "Chi vuol esser lieto sia: Objects of Entertainment in the Tornabuoni Palace in Florence", examines material evidence of music, theater, and jousting equipment in a Florentine home and was published in "The Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior, 1400-1700&" (Ashgate, 2013). Maria received her B.A. in Philosophy at UCLA and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History at UCLA. She has previously taught at UCLA, UC Davis, and Washington State University. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the Italian Art Society, and the Center for the Humanities at UC Merced. She was a visiting fellow in Spring 2014 at the European University Institute in Fiesole. In 2013-2014, she was a Hanna Kiel Fellow at the Villa I Tatti in Florence.