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Natasha Burbridge

Visual Arts, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Unknown women memorialised: portrait medals in Renaissance Italy

Portrait medals, highly fashionable from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, are one of the most overlooked art forms of the Italian Renaissance despite surviving in large quantities and possessing considerable potential for advancing our understanding of the culture, society and values of the period. Within this already underexplored group of objects are a body of medals which have been almost entirely neglected – those of the local, un-named women of Renaissance Italy. By placing these medals in an historical context, I will aim to understand their function and meaning in relation to gender, fame and individuality.

It is anticipated that the research project will demonstrate that these portrait medals do not just depict idealised, beautiful women (belle donne), but actual individuals who were commemorated because of their own personal merit and virtue. These objects provide, then, a unique opportunity to illuminate those women who might otherwise have been lost to history and, with it, allow a more nuanced understanding of gender in numismatics, art history and museum collections alike.

Research Area

  • Art History
  • Visual Arts

Other Research Interests

  • Cultural and Social History of Late Medieval and Early Modern Italy
  • Visual and Material Culture
  • Women and Gender
  • The Renaissance Courts of Northern Italy


  • The Renaissance Society of America
  • British Art Medal Society
  • British Numismatic Society (Council Member)
  • Early Modern Metals Research Network


  • MA Medieval and Renaissance History (Distinction), Queen Mary, University of London
  • BA Medieval History (First Class with Honours), Queen Mary, University of London


  • Italian
  • Latin


Patricipant in the European Research Council funded programme 'Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts', 2013-2016.

Relevant Work Experience

  • Corporate Development Executive - Historic Royal Palaces (October 2019-September 2021)
  • Development Officer - The British School at Rome (November 2018-October 2019)
  • British Numismatic Society Funded Intern - The British Museum (September 2018-November 2018)
  • Teaching and Learning Support - Queen Mary, University of London (September 2017-August 2018)