A University of Melbourne academic has become one of the few art historians in the world to receive the prestigious Ufficiale dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy) award.

Professor Jaynie Anderson, Herald Chair of Fine Arts (1997-2014) and Foundation Director of the Australian Institute of Art History, received the award for her contribution to the knowledge of Italian and Renaissance art.

The Ufficiale dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia, created in 1947 by the first President of the Republic of Italy, honours Italians and foreigners who make outstanding contributions to Italy and the Italian way of life.

“This distinguished award is a great honour,” said Professor Rachel Fensham, Head of the School of Culture and Communication. “It recognises the significant impact Jaynie Anderson has made through her teaching and research in Italian and Renaissance art and as a curator of high-profile exhibitions in Australia and across the world.”

Mr Marco Maria Cerbo, Consul-General of Italy in Melbourne, said the award was made by the President of the Republic of Italy and has not been bestowed to many non-Italians in Melbourne.

“The award is made in recognition of Professor Anderson’s exceptional involvement in the preservation and promotion of Italian culture abroad. Professor Anderson is distinguished in a remarkable manner for her research on the Italian Renaissance, having devoted much of her studies to Italian art,” Mr Cerbo said.

Professor Anderson’s work has focused on the sixteenth-century Venetian artist Giorgione. She published Giorgione: The Painter of Poetic Brevity in 1997 which remains the most important study of the artist to date. She has also curated exhibitions on Italian art at the National Gallery of Australia, the Castello Sforzesco and Poldi Pezzoli Museums in Milan, Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Professor Anderson said she was delighted to receive the award. “To be awarded for my discoveries is an honour and to be recognised by a nation is very humbling. I look forward to continuing my research which will open up important lines of historic and artistic enquiry across the world.”

The Consul-General of Italy in Melbourne, Mr Marco Maria Cerbo, presented the award to Professor Anderson on November 30th at the University of Melbourne.