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Meet the Fellows

The Robert Lehman Collection encourages the development of young scholars and aspiring curators in many ways, including support for research projects and opportunities to work on the collections with our curatorial staff.

Meet the 2021 – 2022 Fellows

E. Melanie Gifford, J. Clawson Mills Scholarship

Melanie Gifford’s interdisciplinary research focuses on Dutch and Flemish painters. Before taking up a fellowship at the Met, she worked in the Scientific Research Department of the National Gallery of Art from 1992 to 2021, combining her background as a working painting conservator (at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore), a PhD in art history, and her expertise in the microscopic analysis of painting materials. Her research uses material evidence to consider art historical questions: tracing artistic decisions by individual artists, exploring relationships between groups of artists, and documenting the evaluation of artistic style by seventeenth-century viewers.

Selected Publications

E. Melanie Gifford et al., “First Steps in Vermeer’s Creative Process,” “Experimentation and Innovation in Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat,” “Vermeer’s Studio and the Girl with a Flute” in “New Findings from the National Gallery of Art” special issue of the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 14:2 (Summer 2022), forthcoming.

E. Melanie Gifford, "Rubens’s Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 11:2 (Summer 2019) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2019.11.2.1

E. Melanie Gifford and Lisha Deming Glinsman, “Materials and Techniques of High-Life Genre Painting: Collective Style and Personal Manner” in exh. cat. Vermeer and the Masters of Dutch Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, Paris, Dublin and Washington, 2017, 64-83.


An overcast rural landscape with a tree in shadows in the left foreground, two figures and a sandy road in the midground, and a farmhouse in the right background.

Jan van Goyen (Dutch, Leiden 1596–1656 The Hague). Sandy Road with a Farmhouse, 1627, oil on wood. Bequest of Myra Mortimer Pinter, 1972 (1972.25).

Melanie Gifford is working on a book that weaves together scientific analysis and art history to explore how a radically new form of landscape depiction was born in the early seventeenth century. During the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain, as the northern provinces transformed themselves into the Dutch Republic, innovative naturalistic landscapes like Jan van Goyen’s Sandy Road with a Farmhouse (1627) celebrated local dunes and hazy skies to embody a new Dutch self-awareness. Melanie’s technical analysis of painting materials and techniques has established that artists achieved this dramatic transformation of artistic style by radically altering their painting techniques. In the late 1620s, émigré artists from Antwerp, who previously had specialized in colorful imagined vistas, abandoned that century-old system of painting techniques for a streamlined process that evoked direct observation of the local scene. 

However, the two systems of landscape painting techniques coexisted and seem to have appealed to different patrons. Court patrons and the rural aristocracy valued exotic scenes that used traditional techniques; the radical art techniques used to render the Dutch countryside appealed to a new urban merchant class. This book considers the reception of the two modes of landscape, exploring how painting techniques carried specific meaning for seventeenth-century viewers.


Past Fellows

Liminality, Reform, and Local Identity: Exploring Visual Exegesis in Lombard, Veneto, and Marche Paintings of the Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Centuries
Andrea Maxwell

Andrea Maxwell’s current project focuses on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century artists working throughout Northern Italy, the Veneto, and the Marche region.  She recently defended her dissertation, "Painting and Persecution: Anti-Jewish and Anti-Protestant Visual Rhetoric in Northern Italy, 1475-1550," which traced the ways in which anti-Jewish imagery transformed to include the new Reformation heretic throughout the Alpine region of Italy.  In her work, Dr. Maxwell is examining a series of choices that artists and their patrons made to develop art in support of the Catholic Church and to formulate local communal identity and belief systems regarding religious others.  This summer, she is expanding this research into a book project, while also investigating the use of pseudo-script in these so-called peripheral regions of early modern Italy.  An example of this can be found in Carlo Crivelli’s panel of An Apostle (1471-73) in the Lehman Collection.

The Wilderness in the City: Siena and the Order of the Hermits of St. Augustine
Krisztina Ilko, Jane and Morgan Whitney Research Fellow

Krisztina Ilko's project focused on a cluster of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manuscripts and panel paintings commissioned by Augustinian friars. This research investigated the power of art in the promotion of the ethos and unique eremitical identity of the Augustinian Order. Special attention was paid to the Augustinians' collaboration with Sienese masters, and in particular Giovanni di Paolo. With twenty-one panels, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has the largest collection of paintings by Giovanni di Paolo outside of his native city of Siena. Eleven of these are in the Robert Lehman Collection, including a small devotional panel depicting the Exaltation of Nicholas of Tolentino, the first canonized member of the Augustinian Order. 

Nenagh Hathaway, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship
Krisztina Ilko, The Hanns Swarzenski and Brigitte Horney Swarzenski Fellowship
Katja Schmitz-Von Ledebur, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship
Nenagh Hathaway, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship
Imogen Tedbury, J. Clawson Mills Scholarship
Nenagh Hathaway, Slifka Foundation Interdisciplinary Fellowship
Fausto Nicolai, Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship
Pablo Vazquez Gestal, J. Clawson Mills Scholarship
Allan Doyle, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship
Petra Raschkewitz, Annette Kade Charitable Trust Fellowship
Cindy Kang, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship
Giancarla Periti, The Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Memorial Fund Fellowship