Michael Barg, M. A.
PhD Student

Michael started his dissertation project as a member of the SACRIMA team in October 2020. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Leiden, one in History (summa cum laude), the other in Italian Language and Culture (cum laude), which he both obtained in 2018. In the summer of 2020, he was awarded a Research Master of Arts degree in Renaissance Studies (cum laude) from the University of Utrecht. He did two ERASMUS+ exchanges, one at the University of Palermo, the other one at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and he has been selected for courses at the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence, The Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, and the University of Porto as part of the ERASMUS+ NEW FACES project.  In 2019 and 2020 he worked as a research assistant within a research project of the University of Palermo on early modern diplomatic contacts in the Mediterranean. In addition to that, he has been a guest speaker in several courses and a chair at student congresses.

His main interest is the cultural and intellectual history of the so-called “long Renaissance”. Being trained in different fields, interdisciplinarity has been at the core of his research since he started his studies. His Bachelor’s thesis for History was dedicated to 16th and 17th century emblem books and how their pictural and textual development could be used to understand the early modern worldview. For his thesis for Italian Studies, he focussed on the several editions of the first chorography of the Low Countries La descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi (1567) by Italian trader and writer Lodovico Guicciardini, reconstructing the changes between the several editions and establishing the influence of the Dutch Revolt in this process of extension and improvement. His Master’s thesis bearing the title “Una Città virtuosa? Virtue as the Fundament of Happiness in Francesco Patrizi da Cherso’s La città felice” was again dedicated to a topic that brought together different disciplines. It addressed the debate on humanist political thought and aimed to add a new perspective by valuing utopian literature as a source for the study of humanist intellectual thought and using Patrizi’s work as a case study for this.

It must not come as a surprise that his PhD research will again be at the crossroads of different fields. The project titled “The Italian Renaissance Garden, an Arcadian Reality?” aims to offer a deeper understanding of the garden in Renaissance Italy. By focussing on the relations between art, literature, and materiality he researches the hypothesis that ideas about Arcadia played a fundamental role in the creation and reception of the Italian Renaissance Garden. Through the analysis of Arcadian literature, he explores the presentation of the relationship between man, nature, and the world and the idea of Arcadia as an alternative and idealised world. Through the study of different types of sources,  he will trace the role that these ideas played in the choices made by commissioners, advisors, and artists on the one hand and on the other the experience of the garden’s visitors. To do this he will take into consideration the overall design and single elements of the garden, such as fountains, groves, and grottos, as well as descriptions of visitors and odes by letterati. By so doing he will shed new light on the intellectual and cultural context in which the garden was created and experienced.