Evonne Levy

Distinguished Professor of Early Modern Art (she/her)



Department of Germanic Languages and Literature
Program in Latin American Studies

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Baroque Art and Architecture
  • Germanophone Historiography of Art
  • Technical Study of Art
  • Global Baroque
  • GianLorenzo Bernini
  • Jesuit Art and Architecture


My training was in the art and architecture of the Italian baroque and my first book Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque arose from several years of archival research in Rome and some hard thinking after a post-doctoral fellowship in Berlin about what it means when an art historian calls a work of art “propaganda.” This question, which is essentially about our motives as historians, piqued my interest in the politics of the discipline of art history. Since 2001, I turned my attention to the ways in which politics have shaped art history, specifically the concept of the Baroque in the German-speaking world. My second book, Baroque and the Political Language of Formalism (1845-1945): Burckhardt, Wölfflin, Gurlitt, Brinckmann, Sedlmayr showed how, over art history’s first century, a fundamental term of art history was shaped by the political views of individuals in reaction to the politics of their times.

I have also intensively investigated a single foundational art historical text, Heinrich Wölfflin’s Principles of Art History (1915). https://thewolfflinproject.utoronto.ca/the-project/  For the centenary of the book’s publication in 2015 I co-edited with Tristan Weddigen the first critical edition and new English translation of the book and co-edited a study, The Global Reception of Heinrich Wölfflin’s Principles of Art History (2020), that argued that the book was so central to the discipline that one can virtually survey the history of art history worldwide from the history of translation, interpretation and reading of Wölfflin’s book. This project organized a global graduate seminar, with participants in Tokyo, Brasil, Australia, Paris, Zurich and Toronto. The students in my undergraduate course produced a documentary on views of University of Toronto colleagues of the book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39MoKbmqzbQ My research on historiography has involved travel to libraries and archives in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and I have taught in this area as Guest Professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität in Frankfurt and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

My initial training was in Italian art but since then I have worked on the Baroque throughout Europe and in Latin America. As a co-investigator in the SSHRC Major Collaborative Research Project “The Hispanic Baroque” I expanded my research and my teaching into Colonial Latin America. Out of this project has come The Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Cultural Transformation (2014), an interdisciplinary volume co-edited with historian Kenneth Mills.

My current projects take me back to objects. I am a leader with conservators Lisa Ellis (AGO/ U of T) and Jane Bassett (Getty/UCLA) of a SSHRC-funded collaborative project –The Technical Study of Bernini’s Bronzes: Art History, Conservation and Material Science – to conduct a comprehensive historical and technical study (including material analyses, study of casting techniques) for the first time of all of the works in bronze cast after Bernini’s models. Focusing on the founders and unnamed workers and the layers of work involved in the multi-phase process of bronze casting, the project aims to bring out of the shadows the makers and to understand, especially, the systems of production of the many bronze multiples that dominate this oeuvre of works were made. In 2022 the team studied over thirty bronzes in North American and Australian collections. Mentoring students in art history and conservation is an important goal of the project. We have held workshops in Rome and Melbourne, where conservation students also shadowed the team at the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia.

Since 2017, I have been also working on a book to be entitled Intermediality in Early Modern Art: A Field Guide. This study of the intermedial condition of early modern art establishes a vocabulary for the art historical study of intermediality from media theory, and elaborates on significant genealogies arising around new, especially paper-based media in the period that were particularly generative of intermedial works. I have explored this subject in generative graduate seminars and in conferences at Stanford University (co-organized with Fabio Barry) and the Bibliotheca Hertziana, when I had the honor of serving as the Wittkower Professor (2017-2018).

Selected Publications

  • The Global Reception of Heinrich Wölfflin’s Principles of Art History (1915-2015). Co-edited by Evonne Levy and Tristan Weddigen. Studies in the History of Art Volume 82, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2020.
  • Material Bernini. Co-edited by Evonne Levy and Carolina Mangone. Routledge/Ashgate Press. 2016.
  • Baroque and the Political Language of Formalism (1845–1945): Burckhardt, Wölfflin, Gurlitt, Brinckmann, Sedlmayr. Basel: Schwabe Verlag, December 2015.
  • Heinrich Wölfflin, The Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Early Modern Art. Co-edited by Evonne Levy and Tristan Weddigen, translated by Jonathan Blower. Los Angeles: Getty Institute Publications, 2015.
  • Lexikon of the Hispanic Baroque: Transatlantic Cultural Transformation. Edited by Evonne Levy and Kenneth Mills. Austin: University of Texas Press, December 2014.

Selected Presentations

  • (with Jane Bassett and Lisa Ellis) “The Technical Study of Bernini’s Bronzes: Art History, Conservation, Material Science.” Workshop (11:00-15:00) held at the Bibliotheca Hertziana (17 November 2022)
  • (with Jane Bassett, Lisa Ellis, Branden Rizzuto), “Bernini’s Bronzes: Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums,” Strauss Conservation Center, Harvard University Art Museums (Oct. 27, 2022)
  • (Keynote) “Propaganda in the Age of Twitter,” Logicas de Dominacion y Resistencia, 43 Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte, Organized by the Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas (Mexico City), Guadalajara, Mexico (2-4 October 2019)
  • “Paper and the Early Modern Condition of Intermediality,” Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence (25 June 2018)

Honours, Awards and Grants

  • 2022 Samuel Kress Foundation Grant for Bernini’s Bronzes
  • 2021 VISTAS (for imaging for the Bernini’s Bronzes Project)
  • 2020-22 SSHRC Insight Development Grant
  • 2020-22 University of Toronto-University of Melbourne Collaboration Grant
  • 2018 Desmond Morton Research Excellence Award, University of Toronto Mississauga ($5,000)
  • 2017-18 Rudolf Wittkower Guest Professor, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome
  • 2013-19 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant
  • 2009-13 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Grant with RTS
  • 2009-10 Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
  • 2008 DAAD (Deutsche Akademische Austausch Dienst) Faculty Research Visit Grant
  • 2007-13 Co-Investigator, SSHRC MCRI Grant on the Hispanic Baroque ($37,850)
  • 2002-6 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Grant
  • 2001-2 Berlin Prize, Post-doctoral Fellowship, American Academy in Berlin
  • 1998 Canadian Centre for Architecture Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Montreal (3 months)


Levy Propaganda; Principles of Art History; Lexikon, Material Bernini; Baroque Political Language; Bernini's Biographies


PhD, Art History, Princeton University
MFA, Art History, Princeton University
MA, Art History, Brown University
BA, Art History & Studio Art, Brown University (magna cum laude)