Dr David Hemsoll BSc (London), BA (UEA), MA (London), PhD (Birmingham), FSA

Photograph of Dr David Hemsoll

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Reader in Architectural History and Theory

Contact details

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TS

David Hemsoll is a specialist in Renaissance art and architecture, especially of Rome, Florence and Venice, and he has written extensively in this area. He also has a particular interest in architectural theory and the methodology of architectural design.


I originally received some training in architecture before I turned to art history, which had long been a fascination of mine. Having been appointed a lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 1990 which was when the Department of History of Art was re-founded, I was then departmental head for eight years (2002-10). I am currently the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Architectural History.



  • Historical Concepts in the History of Art
  • Object and Medium 1: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculptures
  • Survey Course (2nd year):  Renaissance Art in Italy and the Netherlands, 1400-1460
  • Special Subjects (final year): Michelangelo; Painting and Decoration in Sixteenth-Century Venice


  • Criticism and Methods

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise, at MPhil and PhD level, students specialising not only in architecture and architectural theory but also in Italian Renaissance and Northern Renaissance painting and sculpture.

Find out more - our PhD History of Art  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Much of my early research was on the Veronese/Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli, on whom I co-authored a major monograph (2004). I have also co-authored an extensive catalogue of the architectural drawings (2014), mainly of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, that formed part of the enormous collection of the antiquarian Cassiano dal Pozzo and are now mostly in the Royal Collection.  Concurrently, I have been working on sixteenth-century architectural methodology, looking at architects such as Raphael and his followers, and focussing in particular on Michelangelo’s architecture in both Florence and Rome, and this has been the theme of a substantial number of articles. I am presently developing some of this work as a monograph which will chart the differing approaches of successive Renaissance architects, from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo, towards Antiquity and the assimilation of the Antique in their schemes. I continue, as well, to take a keen interest in the Barber Institute collections.

Other activities

  • University Prima Facie Appeals Committee
  • Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Architectural History

Previous additional roles

  • Director of Undergraduate programmes in History of Art
  • Examinations Officer for History of Art


Recent publications


Hemsoll, D 2019, Emulating Antiquity: Renaissance buildings from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo. Yale University Press, New Haven and London. <https://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300225761>

Hemsoll, D & Davies, P 2013, The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo, Series A, vol. X, Renaissance and Later Architecture and Ornament. Harvey Miller Publishers, London.


Hemsoll, D 2020, 'Drawing on the past: Palladio, his precursors and knowledge of ancient architecture c. 1550', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 82, pp. 195-249. <https://warburg.sas.ac.uk/publications/journal-warburg-and-courtauld-institutes/jwci-volume-lxxxii-2019>

Hemsoll, D 2015, 'Envisaging Michelangelo's Porta Pia', Annali di architettura, vol. 25, pp. 101-16.

Hemsoll, D 2015, 'Palladio's architectural orders: from practice to theory', Architectural History, vol. 58, pp. 1-54. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0066622X00002574

Hemsoll, D 2014, 'Drawings by Palladio and Others of the Porta dei Leoni in Verona', Pegasus. Berliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike, vol. 16, pp. 129-60. <http://www.census.de/census/publikationen/pegasus-16.2014-inhaltsverzeichnis>

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Hemsoll, D 2017, L’idea dell’architettura di Giuliano da Sangallo, 1485-1492. in A Belluzzi, C Elam & FP Fiore (eds), Giuliano da Sangallo. Officina Edizioni, Milan, pp. 121-132.

Davies, P & Hemsoll, D 2016, L’architettura: Verona fidelis. in D Battilotti, G Beltramini, E Demo & W Panciera (eds), Storia dell’architettura nel Veneto: Il Cinquecento. vol. 4, Marsilio, Venice, pp. 188-209.

Hemsoll, D 2015, Michelangelo’s St Peter’s and a neglected early drawing. in N Avcioğlu & A Sherman (eds), Artistic Practices and Cultural Transfer in Early Modern Italy: Essays in Honour of Deborah Howard. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 197-220.

Hemsoll, D 2012, Imitation as a creative vehicle in Michelangelo’s art and architecture. in JA Franklin, TA Heslop & C Stevenson (eds), Architecture and Interpretation: essays for Eric Fernie. Boydell Press, pp. 221-241.

Hemsoll, D 2012, The conception and design of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling: ‘Wishing just to shed a little light on the whole rather than mentioning the parts'. in J Burke (ed.), Rethinking the High Renaissance: The Culture of the Visual Arts in Early Sixteenth-Century Rome. Visual Culture in Early Modernity, Ashgate, pp. 263-287.

Hemsoll, D 2010, Fourteen Sheets of Drawings by Sebastiano Serlio. in M Beltramini & C Elam (eds), Some degree of happiness: Studi di storia dell'architettura in onore di Howard Burns. Scuola Normale Superiore, pp. 273-296, 733-737.


Hemsoll, D 2016, Veronese’s painted architecture: vocabulary and application. in B Aikema, T Dalla Costa & P Marini (eds), Paolo Veronese. Giornate di Studio.: Proceedings of the International Conference (Verona, 27-29 September 2014). Lineadacqua, Venice, pp. 175-87.

Hemsoll, D 2014, Consonance, Incoherence and Obscurity: Rhetorical Idealism in the Centrally-Planned Church Schemes of Sebastiano Serlio . in The Gordian Knot. Studi Offerti a Richard Schofield. Saggi di storia dell'arte, vol. 31, Campisano, Rome, pp. 131-48.

Hemsoll, D & Davies, P 2014, Quattro progetti architettonici legati a Giulio Romano. in U Bazzotti (ed.), Giulio Romano e l’arte del Cinquecento. Modena, pp. 185-208.

View all publications in research portal


Architecture, Architectural History, Renaissance Art and Architecture