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Research interests

Dr Angelica Groom is an art historian who undertakes research into the cultural history of animals in relation to the early modern court. Her research centres on the history of animal depiction in diverse visual contexts, including early modern zoological illustrations, still life paintings, as well as imagery related to the ritual uses of animals in courtly hunting, pageantry and festivals. Related areas of investigation include elite collecting practices of rare and exotic beasts, both as living beasts displayed in menageries and princely gardens, and as taxidermied specimens exhibited in the Cabinet of Curiosity or Wunderkammer. Her research interests thus connect with numerous fields of scholarly enquiry, including animal studies, art history, garden design and architecture, collecting and early museum studies, court festivals and pageantry, and early modern naturalism.

Scholarly biography

Dr Angelica Groom studied for a BA (Hons) at the Open University, and an MA and DPhil at the University of Sussex, where she developed a specialist knowledge of the visual arts and cultural practices associated with renaissance and early modern Italian courts. Her doctoral thesis, entitled The role of rare and exotic animals in the self-fashioning of the early modern court: the Medici court in Florence as a case study, centred specifically on the important roles animals played in the political imaging and cultural self-fashioning of the Medici court in Florence (1531-1737) - both as subjects depicted in art and the deployment of ‘real’ beasts in the ritual life of the court.

Image credit: 

Albrecht Dürer. The Rhinoceros. 1515. 

Woodcut. 23.5× 29.8 cm. 

National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Approach to teaching

Dr Groom is senior lecturer in History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton. She has previously taught arts-related courses for the Open University and the University of Sussex. Since joining the University of Brighton, in 2013, she has taught and lectured on modules for the department of History of Art and Design as well as on Historical and Critical studies modules delivered to students from the School of Art.

Academic Workshops

“Reframing Animals”, one day workshop exploring the intersections between art history and animal studies (Friday 6 September 2019 - Wolverhampton Art Gallery).


Academic Conference Papers

Conference: Bilder exotischer Tiere, 1500-1800 (Augsburg, 10-11 Oct 2017) Paper title: The tyranny (?) of an enduring schemata: the lion in Florentine art. (Edited volume anticipated).

Lunchtime Lectures, The Centre for Design History (formerly IDH Research Cluster), the University of Brighton (Tuesday 6th June2017); Paper title: Exotic animals in the art and culture of the Medici court.

Annual Conference Renaissance Society of America (RSA), Annual Conference, Berlin March 2015:Paper title: Beastly networking: animal exchange and procurement at the Medici court in Florence.

Conference: Between Apes and Angels: Human and Animal in the Early Modern World(University of Edinburgh, 4-5 December 2014);Paper title: The Medici menageries as sites for collecting, display and performance’.

The Wallace Collection, London - The History of Collecting Series, 30 June 2014; Paper Title: ‘Animal collecting at the Medici court: deploying living and stuffed species as an inspiration for art’.

Annual Conference of the German Society for 18th-Century Studies, Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel, Germany, 9-11 September 2013; Paper title: Animal collecting at the Medici court in Florence: real, stuffed and painted beasts as evidence of different ways of classifying and conceptualizing the zoological ‘other’.

‘Collecting Nature’, a conference organised by Collecting & Display in collaboration with Schwabenakademie, Kloster Irsee, Germany, 24-28 May 2013); Paper title: Animal collecting at the Medici court in Florence: real, stuffed and painted beasts as evidence of shifting values in the display and conceptualization of the zoological ‘other’.

Art History Graduate Symposium, University of Sussex, 13 May 2013; Paper title: Animal collecting at the Medici court in Florence: real, stuffed and painted beasts as evidence of shifting values in the display and conceptualization of the zoological ‘other’.

Scientiae 2013: ‘Disciplines of Knowing in the Early Modern World’ University of Warwick (UK), 18-20 April 2013, Paper title: Early modern natural science as an agent for change in naturalist painting: Jacopo Ligozzi’s zoological illustrations as a case study. **Paper accepted for publication in an edited volume to be published by Pickering and Chatto.

AAH Student Symposium  - ‘Art and Science: Knowledge, Creation and Discovery’, the Linnean Society, London, 28-29 June 2012; Paper title: Animal paintings in the collections of the Grand-ducal court of the Medici: art in the service of early modern zoological science.

The EMREM Postgraduate Forum Annual Symposium, the University of Birmingham, 18 March 2011; Paper title: Bizzarri, meravigliosi e mostruosi animali: categories of the ‘other’ in the zoological art of the Medici.

Art History Research in Progress Seminar, University of Sussex, 19 November 2008;

Paper title: Transforming the “beastly” image: developments in the representation of exotic animals in early-modern Italian court art.

Sussex Post Graduate Conference, Lewis 20 July 2006; Paper title: Narwhal tusks, crocodile skins and hummingbird wings: collecting curiosities at the Medici court.


Supervisory Interests

Angelica is interested in supervising PhD projects related to the history of art and visual culture, including early modern, modern and contemporary art. Of particular interest are projects that bring together history of art and animal studies, such as early modern art court art in relation to collecting and display practices (menageries, Cabinets of Curiosity, natural history illustrations, taxidermy), or research that focuses on an investigation of contemporary artists’ recent revival of taxidermy as a form of art.


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