Giosuè Fabiano

PhD candidate; Associate Lecturer

Thesis: ‘Natural Lighting, Art and Temporal Experience in Late Medieval Italian Churches (c.1100-1427)’

Supervised by Prof Joanna Cannon

PhD funded by and

My PhD project investigates the making and meaning of special luminous phenomena occurring in the frescoed interiors of late-medieval Italian churches. On significant dates of the Christian calendar, expertly directed light beams could be observed as descending dramatically from designated apertures on the churches’ walls, illuminating symbols and bringing out sacred figures in painted scenes. This project provides the first systematic study of such phenomena as considered in their material realisation, their connections with liturgy, contemporary optical and astronomical sciences and their role in shaping the function and appearance of devotional artworks. Multiple case studies comprising works by Giotto and Pietro Lorenzetti will be investigated alongside less familiar examples to establish patterns and specificities in the diffusion of religious temporal illuminations in Italy. The core questions will be: How did late-medieval artists cooperate with intellectuals to incorporate light as an artistic medium? Which sectors of the population were witnesses to scheduled spectacles of light? How did light phenomena relate to Christian performances and rituals, e.g. the ‘liturgy of the hours’? What sensorial implications did light events entail for individual and public piety?


  • 2023-2024 – Associate Lecturer, Renaissance Art Theory from Cennini to Vasari, The 鶹Ƶ Institute.
  • Autumn 2023 – Associate Lecturer,The Art of Contact Between Africa and Europe in the Early Modern Period, The 鶹Ƶ Institute.
  • Autumn 2023 – Part-time Tutor, Medieval Art and Material Culture, Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford.
  • Autumn 2022 – Occasional Lecturer, Art, Travel and Imagination in the Middle Ages (Lecture: ‘Moveable Buildings’), The 鶹Ƶ Institute.
  • Autumn 2022 – Teaching Assistant, Foundations Lecture Series, The 鶹Ƶ Institute.

Fellowships and Other Academic Activities

  • Junior Fellowship, University of Hamburg, Research Group: ‘Imaginarien der Kraft’, May-Sept 2022.
  • Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome, Research Group: ‘Visualizing Science in Media Revolutions’, 2020-21.
  • NIKI Fellowship, Nederlands Interuniversitair Kunsthistorisch Instituut, Florence, November-December 2019.
  • Postgraduate Research Assistant, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte,July-September 2019.
  • Associate Editor,immediations, the peer-reviewed postgraduate journal of The 鶹Ƶ Institute of Art, 2019.


  • PhD Candidate, The 鶹Ƶ Institute of Art (2018-present)
  • MA inArt History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture, The Warburg Institute (2016-17)
  • BA inArt History, Sapienza University of Rome (2012-15)

Research Interests

  • Italian Art and Architecture (1000-1500)
  • Light (depicted, manipulated, experienced)
  • 13th and 14th-century observational sciences (Optics, Astronomy, Meteorology)
  • Environment, Vision and Temporality
  • Liturgical space and performances
  • Cross-cultural knowledge transfers

Publications, Conference Papers and Workshops

  • Book review: ‘Natural Light in Medieval Churches, by V. Ivanovici and A. I. Sullivan, Leiden, 2023’, .
  • “Illuminavit hunc diem”: Natural Lighting, Liturgical Time and Frescoes in late Medieval Italian Churches’, Medieval Visual Culture Seminar, University of Oxford, (18 October 2023).
  • ‘‘Radii solis per fenestram’: Experiencing Divine Potency in Late Medieval Architecture’,DFG-Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe: Imaginarien der Kraft,University of Hamburg (31 May 2022).
  • ‘A Saint, the Sun and a Cloud: Sacred Meteorology in Santa Maria Novella,’ ICMA sponsored session:Art Historical Approaches to Medieval Environments,ICMS Kalamazoo 2021 (10 May 2021).
  • ‘Optical Rays, Sunlight and Experience in an Architectural Drawing by Giovanni Gherardi da Prato’, Session:Diagrams and Experience in Late Medieval and Early Modern Sciences, RSA 2021 (15 Apr 2021).
  • ‘Sunlight as an Artistic Medium,’Working Materials and Materials at Work in Medieval Art and Architecture– Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium,The 鶹Ƶ Institute of Art, London (07 Feb 2020).
  • ‘Demonstratio Horologica,’Time/Les Temps – Symposium of the International Medieval Society,Paris (8-10 July 2019).
  • ‘Timely Illuminations: light beams, space and duration in late-medieval Italian frescoes,’Light & Darkness in Pre-modern Visual Cultures, Research Forum, The 鶹Ƶ Institute of Art, London (23 Nov 2018).
  • Chair of the session ‘Architectural Miniatures,’Scaling the Middle Ages: Size and Scale in Medieval Art – Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium,The 鶹Ƶ Institute of Art, London (08 Feb 2019).
  • Chair of the session ‘New Light on the Renaissance Body’,Re-telling the RenaissanceRenaissance Postgraduate Symposium, The 鶹Ƶ Institute of Art, London (3 May 2019).


Book Review: ‘Natural Light in Medieval Churches, eds. V. Ivanovici and I. Sullivan, Brill, Leiden, 2023’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 176.1, pp. 327-330, DOI: