University of South Florida

School of Art & Art History

USF College of The Arts

Helena Szépe

Professor, Art History
PhD, Cornell University
Phone: 813.974.9325
Office: FAH 266

I specialize in the art history of late medieval and Renaissance Europe, with special teaching and research interests in the complex interactions of technology, culture, and art during the shift from manuscript production to print. I am particularly interested in how embellishment of books can transform them into more potent symbols and attributes of their owners. I also study collecting, and how we might discern the changing meaning of objects through the condition in which they were obtained and maintained.

My book, “Venice Illuminated. Power and Painting in Renaissance Manuscripts” (Yale University Press, 2018), examines how paintings in manuscripts marking patrician appointment to high office expressed a tension between selfless service and individual ambition.

I am working on a new book provisionally titled “The Art of Enclosure,” which examines the visual culture of books made by and for nuns in Venice.

Recent seminars I have taught include Art and the Senses, Dreaming in the Renaissance, The Renaissance Print, The Idea of Venice, Renaissance Identity, The Art of the Renaissance Book, and Painting in Renaissance Venice.

My research has been supported by an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, a Getty Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Gladys Krieble Delmas Grants, an American Philosophical Society Research Grant, Huntington Library and Harvard University Houghton Library Fellowships, and USF Research grants. I was a Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Padua in the Fall of 2013 and currently am working in collaboration with Professors Federica Toniolo and Chiara Ponchia there on a project entitled, "Renaissance Manuscripts and Modern Memory," funded in part by a USF UNI grant.

I have published in numerous refereed journals, including “Art History” and “Word and Image.”


"The Eroticised Dream-Romance Printed by Aldus Manutius,” essay for the catalogs of the international loan exhibition “Aldus Manutius and the Venetian Renaissance,” eds. Guido Beltramini, Davide Gasparotto, Giulio Manieri Elia. Catalog: Aldo Manuzio. il rinascimento di Venezia, Venice: Marsilio, 2016: 140-159. (Exhibition: Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, 2016.)

“Patrons and Painters in Venetian Documents,” Bollettino dei Musei Civici Veneziani, 8, 2013: 25-40; 50-59.

“Doge Andrea Dandolo and Manuscript Illumination,” Miniatura. Lo sguardo e la parola. Studi in onore di Giordana Mariani Canova, eds. Federica Toniolo and Gennaro Toscano, Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2012: 152-156.

“Venetian Miniaturists in the Era of Print,” The Venetian Book, special edition of Miscellanea Marciana, eds. Craig Kallendorf and Lisa Pon, 2008: 30-61, plates 1-10.

Review of the exhibition and catalog Mattio Corvino e Firenze. Arte e umanesimo alla corte del re di Ungheria, Péter Farbaky,Dániel Pócs, Magnolia Scudieri, Lia Brunori, Enikő Spekner, andrás  Végh, in The Burlington Magazine, CLVI: 1330,January 2014, 61-62.