Evelyn Lincoln

Professor of History of Art and Architecture
Professor of Italian Studies

Research Interests

history of science
Italian art
Italian studies
Mediterranean studies
Renaissance studies
history of the book
book illustration
early modern art history


Evelyn Lincoln is an art historian specializing in the history of print culture and the book in the early modern period. She received a B.A. in art and literature from Antioch College in 1973, and was a printmaker and curator in San Francisco before returning to school in 1989 to study the History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in 1994, joining the faculty in the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University in that year; she is also Professor of Italian Studies. She is the current Chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture (20019-2022). She is the author of The Invention of the Italian Renaissance Printmaker (Yale University Press, 2000) and Brilliant Discourse: Pictures and Readers in Early Modern Rome (Yale University Press, 2014).

She is interested in the networks formed by communities of readers (including artists, printers and patrons) that go beyond the usual social markers, demonstrating areas where boundaries of class, education, and religious identity are penetrated by interaction with printed books and images. To this end she investigates Roman printing and knowledge networks in the early modern period through the creation and use of a digital platform for the identification of contributors and the responsibilities of those involved in Roman printing at that time.

Interest in the history of printmaking and book illustration has led to the larger visual, literary, and scientific cultures of early modern Italy, and the roles and creation of imagery in other media. The Invention of the Italian Renaissance Printmaker discusses the history of the technology and uses of printing in the formation of artist’s careers in late 15th- and early 16th-century Italy, seeking to identify the roots of a common literacy in disegno, which was judged to be the basis of all artistic practice. By investigating the value of disegno in fields other than the fine arts, this book points out how modes of drawing that were developed in other trades and under different circumstances were brought to bear on the mythological, technical, and religious imagery of Italian Renaissance prints in the first hundred years of printing.

Subsequent research has focused on the roles of book illustration and literacy in vernacular scientific and religious treatises printed in 16th- and 17th-century Italy, particularly in Rome. In a series of articles and in Brilliant Discourse: Pictures and Readers in Early Modern Rome, she explores the role of illustrations in creating authorial credit and claims for particular knowledge among a newly created community of authors, publishers, printers and their patrons. New notions of intellectual property and self-consciousness about the status of authorship, the development of printing, image-making and publishing conventions for the attribution of authorship in the face of Church censorship, the stated and covert relationships between objectivity and observation, the representation of truth claims in pictures and text, the creation of an authorial voice and the rise of professionalism in the arts in the early modern period (1400-1800) are all part of my more recent work. She is also writing about color in Renaissance art and theories of vision.