Having secured a six-month internship with the Vatican Museums earlier this year, former University of Kent in Rome History of Art MA and current PhD student, Kostas Gravanis, has now also been awarded the Renaissance Society of America Samuel H. Kress Research Fellowship in Renaissance Art History.
With just 14% of applicants selected to receive funding, the RSA identified Kostas’ project submission as ‘one of the very best advancing our knowledge of Renaissance studies’. The $3000 stipend will enable him to undertake research in the Sala di Costantino, one of the Raphael rooms in the Vatican Palace upon which his PhD focuses. Kostas’ project is an iconographic investigation and chronological reconstruction of works within their historical and physical context.
With this recent achievement rounding his 2019 off even more positively, the Rome School of Classical and Renaissance Studies’ alumnus reflected on his interning experience in the Vatican Museum earlier this year – from April through to mid-autumn. In direct relation to his PhD, this internship also focused on the Vatican’s Stanze di Raffaello (the sequence of four rooms decorated by Raphael and his workshop between 1508 and 1524).
Kostas’ internship was predominantly research-based, with work mostly taking place in the famous Hertziana Library in Rome. With Raphael’s paintings in the Vatican as the focus, the interning responsibilities included: creating bibliographies of existing sources and analytical chronologies for all works, producing lists of relevant drawings, and attempting reconstructions of original decorations and events.
The role also involved repeated visits to Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican, engagement with the museums’ restoration teams, discussion on photographic collections, and the privilege of climbing the scaffolding in the Sala di Costantino – a famous large hall undergoing restoration. The context of celebrations planned in Rome for 2020, revolving around the quincentenary of Raphael’s death, enhanced the interning experience.
Kostas Gravanis, former Kent in Rome MA student, said: “This amazing internship gave me an unrivalled opportunity to study the work of Raphael and his workshop from close angles and to learn from people who are experts in their field. The experience also proved greatly beneficial to my PhD. It allowed me to collect and organise a large body of relevant sources, expand my range of research methods, and generally improve as a researcher. Coupled with my recent fellowship news, this internship has made 2019 a real highlight.”
“Had I not done the Master’s with Kent’s Rome School back in 2015-16, these incredible opportunities would not have come about. I had never been to Rome before studying with the University of Kent. My fascination with the city and the Vatican all started then, and those three intensive months studying abroad with countless artworks right in front of me really gave me the practical knowledge and motivation to get to where I am now.”
Despite his previous background in marketing and communications, a future in academia related to the interdisciplinary field of Renaissance art is now the mature student’s ambition, something which the RSA’s fellowship award should help fulfil.
Tom Henry, Director of Kent’s Rome School of Classical and Renaissance Studies, said: “Kostas has been a committed student since day one. He’s a great example of the exciting places our MA programmes, with their term in the monumental setting of Rome, can lead. We congratulate him on his outstanding achievements and continue to wish him every success in his academic endeavours.”