Danai Thomaidis

Mary Seeger O’Boyle Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Art History, Venice & Fribourg University, 2021
    Dissertation
    The Life of Icons in Venice (13th-17th centuries)
    Research Project
    Entering the Venetian Casa: Byzantine Icons as Mirrors of Renaissance Visual Art (15th-17th centuries)
Contact Info

Danai Thomaidis is a Byzantine Art Historian specializing in the reception of Byzantine art, specifically icons, in the West. Her research interests focus on icon production and display in Venice and the Venetian Stato da Mar and on the relationship between domestic and public sphere in shaping religious identities. Further research interests include: cross-cultural interactions in the Mediterranean, Marian cult, Venetian colonialism in the Levant and its artistic production, sacred landscapes, the reception of Byzantium in modern times, art production in Venetian ruled Crete, Byzantine religious feasts and processions and the cultural physiognomy of Byzantine artifacts. Danai received her degrees from the Statale University of Milan (BA) and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (MA). She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Venice and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Her research has been supported by generous funding from the Leventis Foundation and the Swiss State Secretariat for Training, Research and Innovation (SEFRI). She has published articles in peer reviewed academic journals and has participated in international conferences. Before coming to Princeton Danai was a Postdoctoral fellow at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Her current book project, The Life of Icons in Venice, investigates the production, introduction, cult and display of icons in Venice, both in domestic and public urban spaces. It also presents the first complete catalogue of Greek icons displayed in Venetian churches. Using a range of evidence, the book offers a history of icon perception in Venice and the Venetian Levant.

About the Research Project

Entering the Venetian Casa: Byzantine Icons as Mirrors of Renaissance Visual Art (15th-17th centuries)

This project investigates the recreation of Renaissance paintings through the use of a combination of Byzantine icons and other paintings in Venice during the 15th -17th centuries. The aim is to analyze the tendency to reproduce, by means of private and personalized icon display, the contemporary paintings that Venetians would have viewed in the city’s churches. The project’s focus is mainly on church altars representing Charity acts, on paintings of Virtues and Vices and on representations of humanistic values. Comparing these iconographies with the assemblages of icons and paintings reported in the wills and inventories of the period under consideration, it is possible to identify similar iconographic patterns. For example, during the 15th century, some altarpieces began to represent the Virgin on a landscape background, including donor portraits. During the same period Venetians recreated similar iconographic assemblages in their private houses by hanging icons of the Virgin, landscape paintings and donor portraits in the same room. The results of such an enquiry will contribute to the general understanding of the perception and projection of the self in a more diachronic and cross-cultural perspective, of the pivotal role of display in social interactions and of the political and cultural impact of Byzantine icons in the West. 

Current Roles

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow