Betsy Bennett Purvis

Lecturer, Art History

Betsy Bennett Purvis is a scholar of Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture. She earned her doctorate from the University of Toronto where her dissertation focused on the use of large-scale, life-like polychrome sculpture terracotta Lamentation groups by Niccolò della’Arca and Guido Mazzoni as a means of political messaging in 15th-century Italy. This work forms the nucleus of a book manuscript currently in progress—Lamenting the Sepulchre: Italian Terracotta Lamentation Tableaux and the Renaissance Crusades.

More recently, her research focuses on questions of intermediality, particularly between painting and sculpture, and materiality and embodiment in relation to a variety of materials within the artistic economy of Italian Renaissance sculpture. She is particularly interested in questions surrounding the perceived animated qualities of different sculptural media and their relationship to concepts of animated presence in figurative sculpture and notions of the “living image.”

Purvis joined the faculty in 2017 and has taught the following courses: Early Italian Renaissance Art, High Renaissance and Mannerist Art, The Global Renaissance, Making and Meaning in Renaissance Art, Decorative Complexes in Italy 1300-1600, Gender and Art in the Italian Renaissance, History of Architecture, and Geographies of Identity in the Italian Renaissance (Graduate Independent Study). Before coming to the University of Virginia, she taught undergraduate classes in the history of Italian Renaissance art and architecture at the University of Toronto and the Summer Studies Abroad Program for Syracuse University in Florence, Italy.