Alessandra Di Croce

Undergraduate Discipline

Art History

BA, University of Rome La Sapienza. MA, University of Rome La Sapienza and Columbia University; PhD, Columbia University. Di Croce works in the area of early-modern visual and material culture, investigating how artifacts and art objects can help address historical questions regarding ideology, power, cultural and religious identity. She has published in Italian journals and in the edited volume Re-Thinking, Re-Making, Re-Living Christian Origins (Rome 2018). She is currently completing an article, “Negotiating Truth in Post-Tridentine Culture: Ars Historica, Rhetoric, and Narrative Art in late Cinquecento Rome.” Her book project, entitled Fragments of Truth. Evidence and Imagination in post-Tridentine Representation of Christian Antiquity, was awarded a competitive research grant from the University Grant Committee (UGC) of Hong Kong in June 2021. Before joining Sarah Lawrence, Di Croce was research assistant professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong and lecturer in Art History at Columbia University. She has also taught several courses in Western art history at New York University School for Professional Studies and at Parsons School of Art and Design in New York, as well as seminars on Latin paleography at the Frick Art Reference Library. From 2015 to 2018, she collaborated as research assistant with the Frick Collection. Before moving to New York, she worked at the Superintendence for the Artistic Patrimony in Rome, where she was involved in many curatorial projects that included large-scale exhibitions and cataloguing campaigns. SLC, 2022–

Undergraduate Courses 2024-2025

Art History

Preserving the Past: Antiquarianism and Collecting Practices From Antiquity to Early Modern Europe

Open, Seminar—Spring

ARTH 3082

Preserving monuments and collecting old artifacts is an important characteristic of complex societies since their inception. Collecting antiquities and investigating the past was a crucial aspect of Medieval and Renaissance European culture. In the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, collecting and studying the material legacy of the Christian past became an important component of European antiquarianism. This seminar class will explore practices of antiquarianism from the Medieval world to the modern era, with a main focus on Renaissance and post-Reformation European culture. We will examine changing motivations behind the preservation and collection of the old, as well as different types of collections. The creation of museums of ancient objects in the West in the 19th century will also receive attention, along with the problematic relationship between museums and European colonialism. A conversation with an expert on the contemporary crisis of antiquities in the Middle East and on what can be done to protect and preserve endangered archeological sites and objects in the area will end this course.


The Power of Images: Worldly Politics and Spiritual Preoccupations in Renaissance Italian Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

ARTH 3061

This seminar will look at Italian art in the 15th and 16th centuries to reflect on the complex relationship of art and politics, poised between patronage and imposition, artistic autonomy and subservience, worldly interests and spiritual preoccupations. Within the larger picture of Renaissance Italian art and its chronological development, we will investigate specific artistic episodes against the backdrop of political motivations and ideological tensions of both patrons and artists. We will focus on selected artworks to discover messages and meanings embedded in their style and iconography and to understand how art objects were used to promote specific ideologies and leaders but also as tools to negotiate with God and the divine power— invoking favor and, occasionally, giving thanks. This course will involve one field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Previous Courses

Art History

The Paths of the World: Italian Renaissance Art and the Beginning of Globalization (15th and 16th Centuries)

Open, Lecture—Fall

The Renaissance was possibly the first true global movement of ideas resonating across different continents, with exciting new paths traveled by both men and objects. At a time of new geographical discoveries and new trade routes, artistic and cultural exchanges between distant cultures were becoming increasingly frequent. This course is an exploration of Renaissance art in Italy through a selection of places (Florence, Venice, and Rome but also other minor centers) and objects analyzed in the context of the so-called “early-modern globalization.” Focusing primarily on painting and sculpture—but with occasional forays into architecture, printmaking, and collecting—this course emphasizes episodes of exchange, encounter, and cross-cultural influences and looks at art objects as symptoms of cultural “cross-fertilization” that embody influences from both near and far.


Theatrum Mundi: Baroque Art and the Wonders of the World

Open, Lecture—Spring

This course analyzes the artistic and architectural production from the Baroque period (c. 1590-1700) through a global perspective. At the end of the 16th century, the consolidation of international power through trade and early colonialism—along with the expansion of the Catholic missionary movement—accelerated the process of globalization already started in the previous century, with important cultural and artistic consequences. Style and content of artworks underwent important changes, as artists grappled with new ideas, forms, and meanings. This course emphasizes cross-cultural interconnections in this era, looking at dynamics of transmission and exchanges between different places—Europe, Asia, and the Americas—while still examining critical monuments and artists long considered canonical. In addition to art and architecture, we will examine natural and artificial objects that, brought to Europe from distant lands, painted an exciting picture of a world filled with countless wonders.


Theories and Methods of Art History

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring

The focus of this course is on the theories and methods developed by art historians and philosophers in order to determine the meaning and function of “art.” We will examine foundational approaches to art—from formalism to iconology, from social history to semiotics, psychoanalysis, and feminism—and how they shaped the current discipline of art history. Students will become comfortable manipulating theoretical ideas but, in order to keep the discussion as grounded as possible, actual artworks selected early in the semester will be used to discuss the different theories and methods of art-historical analysis. Additionally, we will devote time to more recent contributions to the discipline and its theoretical model—exploring, for instance, issues of gender and postcolonialism and looking at art through the perspective of those subjects traditionally marginalized by institutional art history.