- Ph.D., 1979 (History of Art), The University of Pennsylvania.
- A.B., 1967 (Italian), Vassar College.
Teaching, Administrative, and Curatorial Positions (select):
- Professor emerita, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 2010- ; Professor of Art History in the Department of History and Art History, 1978-2010.
- MEFISTO: Medici-Frauen Interdisziplinär: Soziale Rollen, kultureller Transfer, mäzenatisches Oeuvre (Interdisciplinary Network on the Social Roles, Cultural Transfer, and Patronage Activity of Medici Women) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Member, 2006-09.
- National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, Member, International Scientific Committee, Italian Women Artists: Renaissance to Baroque (exhibition), 2005-2007.
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Guest Curator, 1991-1993, Images of a Queen’s Power: The Artemisia Tapestries (exhibition).
Awards and Fellowships (select):
- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 2016.
- Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014.
- National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Seminar, 1980, 1998; Summer Stipend, 1981; Travel to Collections Grant, 1984; Fellowship, 1988-1989.
- Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College, Fellow, 1989.
- Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Visiting Senior Fellow, 1983.
- George Mason University: Study-Leave (competitive), fall 2005; 1998-1999; 1989-1990.
Publications (select): see also https://gmu.academia.edu/Sheilaffolliott
- The Portrait at Court: Catherine de’ Medici as Subject, Collector, and Observer (in progress).
- “The Aplomado Falcon,” with Shepard Krech III, for Hans Khevenhüller at the Court of Philip II of Spain: Diplomacy & Consumerism in a Global Empire, ed. Annemarie Jordan Gschwend (London: Paul Holberton 2021).
- Exhibition review: A Tale of Two Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana. Museo del Prado, Madrid. 22 October 2019-2 February 2020. Catalogue, ed. Letizia Ruiz Gómez, in EMW: An Interdisciiplinary Journal 15(2020), 146-155.
- “The Agency of Portrayal: The Active Portrait in the Early Modern Period,” with Saskia Beranek, in Challenging Women’s Agency and Activism in Early Modernity, ed. Merry Wiesner-Hanks. Amsterdam University Press, 2021.
- “Artemisia Gentileschi,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Art History. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. New York: Oxford University Press (online by subscription).
- “Cosimo de’ Medici and Catherine de Médicis: Making the Political Personal,” in The Brill Companion to Cosimo I de’ Medici, ed. Alessio Assonitis, in press.
- “Juana de Austria and her Peers: Queens, Regents, and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Europe,” in The Making of Juana de Austria: Gender, Art, and Patronage in Early Modern Iberia, edited by Noelia García Perez. Louisiana State University Press, in press.
- “Storytelling in Tapestry,” in Storytelling in the French Renaissance, ed. Emily Thompson. University of Delaware Press, in press.
- “La Miniatrice di Madama: Giovanna Garzoni in Savoia,” in La Grandezza dell’Universo nell’arte di Giovanna Garzoni, exh. cat., ed. Sheila Barker. Florence: Sillabe and Palazzo Pitti, 2020, 46-53
- Review of Plautilla Nelli (Uffizi exhibition and catalogue), EMWJ. 2018.
- “Some Thoughts on Feminism from an Art Historian,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 48(2017), 893-895.
- “Tapestry” in Cambridge Shakespeare Encyclopedia, I: Shakespeare’s World, ed. B.R Smith. 2016.
- “‘Più che famose:’ Women Artists in Early Modern Europe,” Women Artists of Early Modern Italy, S. Barker. Brepols/Harvey Miller, 2016.
- “Artemisia conquers Rhodes: Problems in the Representation of Female Military Heroics in the Age of Catherine de’ Medici” in Patronage, Gender & the Arts in Early Modern Italy: Essays in Honor of Carolyn Valone, eds. Katherine McIver and Cynthia Stollhans (New York: Italica Press, 2016).
- “Gentileschi, Artemisia,” for the Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (Berlin: DeGruyter), on line. [Choice has selected the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception Online as an Outstanding Electronic Academic Title for 2020].
- “Women Artists” in the Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, eds. Jane Couchman, Katherine McIver, and Allyson Poska (Farnum: Ashgate, 2013), 323-44.
- Introduction,” to Women Patrons and Collectors, eds. Susan Bracken, Andrea M. Gáldy, and Adriana Turpin (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), xvii-xxxii.
- “La Florentine” or “La bonne Françoise?” Some Sixteenth-Century Commentators on Catherine de’ Medici and her Patronage in Artful Allies: Medici Women as Cultural Mediators, Christina Strunck (Silvana Editoriale, 2011), 17-37.
- “Caterina de’ Medici (1519-1589): Königin aus Zufall ” in Die Frauen des hauses Medici: Politik, Mäzenatentum, Rollenbilder (1512-1743), ed. Christina Strunck (Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2012), 33-40.
- Review essay on three exhibitions “Beauty and Duty: The Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage” (Bowdoin College Museum of Art), “The Triumph of Marriage” (Gardner and Ringling Museums), and “Art and Love in Renaissance Italy” (Metropolitan and Kimbell Museums) for Early Modern Women: an Interdisciplinary Journal 4(2009): 247-258.
- “European Women Patrons, c. 1450-1650: Some Patterns,” in Renaessanceforum: Tidsskrift for Renæssanceforskning (Copenhagen, 2008).
- “Wife, Widow, Nun, and Court Lady: Women Patrons of the Renaissance and Baroque,” in Italian Women Artists, Renaissance to Baroque (Milan: Skira, 2007) 31-39.
- “Catherine de’ Médicis: La Reine-Patronne Ideale de la Rénaissance?” in Les Femmes et les arts à la Renaissance: Patronnes et mécènes, d’Anne de France à Catherine de Médicis, ed. Kathleen Wilson-Chevalier (Paris: Université de Saint-Étienne, 2007), 455-66.
- “Artemisia Gentileschi” in Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, ed. B. Smith, 2008.
- “Women and Art in the Renaissance,” in Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance, eds. Carole Levin and Diana Robin (ABC-Clio, 2007), 30-34.
- “The Italian “Training” of Catherine de’ Medici: The Portrait as Dynastic Narrative,” in The Court Historian 10(2005), 36-54.
- “Learning to Be Looked at: The Portrait of [The Artist as] a Young Woman in Agnès Merlet’s Artemisia,” in Reclaiming Female Agency: Feminist Art History after Postmodernism, eds. Norma Broude and Mary Garrard (University of California Press, 2005), 49-62.
- “Portraying Queens: the International Language of Court Portraiture in the Sixteenth Century,” Elizabeth I: Then and Now, ed. Georgianna Ziegler (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2003), 164-175.
- “Antoine Caron,” “Catherine de’ Medici,” “François and Jean Clouet,” “Niccolò dell’Abbate,” “Bernard Palissy,” and “Jean Goujon” for Renaissance and Reformation: 1500-1620: a Biographical Dictionary, Jo Eldridge Carney (Westport CT: and London: Greenwood Press, 2001).
- “Women in the Garden of Allegory: Catherine de’ Medici and the Locus of Female Rule,” in Villas and Gardens in Early Modern Italy and France, ed. Miroslava Benes and Dianne Harris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 207-224.
- “Make Love not War: Images of Peace through Marriage in Renaissance France,” in Peace, Negotiation, and Reciprocity: Strategies of Co-Existence in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Diane Wolfthal, ACMRS IV (Brussels: Brepols, 2000), 213-232.
- “Francis Haskell,” “Erwin Panofsky,” “Giorgio Vasari,” and “Aby Warburg and Warburg School,” for Making History: A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing, ed. Daniel Woolf (New York: Garland Press), 1997.
- “The Ideal Queenly Patron of the Renaissance: Catherine de’ Medici Defining Herself or Defined by Others?” in Women and Art in Early Modern Europe: Patrons, Collectors, and Connoisseurs, Cynthia Lawrence (Penn State University Press: 1997), 99-109.
- “Once Upon a Tapestry: Inventing the Ideal Queen,” in Images of a Queen’s Power: The Artemisia Tapestries, by Candace Adelson and Sheila ffolliott (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts), 1993, 13-19, plus illustrations and charts.
- “Casting a Rival into the Shade: Catherine de’ Medici and Diane de Poitiers,” The Art Journal 48(1989): 138-143.
- “Catherine de’ Medici as Artemisia: Figuring the Powerful Widow,” in Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe, ed. M. Ferguson, M. Quilligan, and N. Vickers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 227-41.
Book: Civic Sculpture in the Renaissance: Montorsoli’s Fountains at Messina (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1984).
Public and Professional Service (select):
Board and Committee Memberships and Offices:
- Current: The Medici Archive Project, Trustee, 2013 – research center with a focus on archival documents.
- American Friends of Attingham, Past President, 2014-19; Director, 2010-14; Coordinator, Study Programme, 2012 (New York and the Hudson Valley).
- The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, Trustee, 1995-2010.
- The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference: Vice President, 2012, President, 2013, Past President, 2014. Council Member, 2009-14; Organizer for Art History sessions for annual meetings 2004 and 2005; Member, Bainton [book] Prize jury, 2005, 2016.
- Society for the Study of Early Modern Women (EMW), President, 1998; Vice President, 1997; Executive Council, 1993-96; Program Committee, 1995-97; Prize Committee, 2011-14.
- Member (Trustee), The Jerome Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1970-1998.
Recent and Upcoming Conference Presentations:
- Association of Art Historians of Great Britain, London 2018: “Portrait Discourses: Danger Ahead.”
- Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans, 2018: “Where are the Women? Female Kin in 16th-Century Medici and Farnese Narrative Cycles.”
- Premodern Diplomats Network, Splendid Encounters IX, Toulouse: Université Jean Jaurès, May 2019: “Ambassador, Ambassadress, Portraits, and Precedence: on the Move at a Soirée chez Catherine de’ Médicis.”
- Sixteenth Century Conference, St. Louis, October 2019: “‘Teach those local artists to paint my nose:’ Women’s Thoughts on Portraits in Early Modern Italy and France.”
- Château de Blois/Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire: Catherine de Médicis: Politique et Art dans la France de la Renaissance, November 2019. “Catherine de Médicis et la Performativité du Portrait.”
- Museo del Prado, Madrid, January 2020: “¿Existen o Todavía no, Grandes Artistas Mujeres?: Algunas Reflexiones 50 años después del artículo de Linda Nochlin.”
- “The [Not so Many] Faces of Catherine de’ Medici,” Washington Colloquium, 25 January 2021.
- Universidad de Murcia, Spain, April 2021: V Jornadas Arte, Poder y Género. “Catherine de’ Medici between Florence and France.” (may be virtual).
Foreign Residence and Research:
Research experience in archives, drawings collections, libraries, and museums in England (London and Windsor); France (Paris); Germany (Berlin); Italy (Rome and the Vatican, Florence, Venice and the Veneto, Messina); Russia (St. Petersburg) and Spain (Madrid, Simancas).
Italian: read, spoken; French: read, spoken; German: read; Spanish: read
The Renaissance Society of America, The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, The Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, Society of Architectural Historians, Society for the History of Collecting, ICOM, Royal Studies Network, Italian Art Society.