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Dr E. Sitzia (1978) has been named professor by special appointment of Illustration at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Humanities. The chair was established on behalf of the Fiep Westendorp Foundation.

Prof Emilie Sitzia, professor Illustration
Credits: Dirk Gillissen

As professor by special appointment, Emilie Sitzia will focus on the history of the relationship between word and image and on increasing academic attention to the relationship between books and art. This will involve working on illustrations in books, newspapers and magazines (for children as well as adults), as well as on book art and artists’ books.

Jip and Janneke, Pippi and Paddington

Among other things, Sitzia will investigate 20th-century illustrations with a particular focus on female illustrators depicting the everyday lives of children. In particular, she will be examining the works of Fiep Westendorp, illustrator of, among other things Jip and Janneke. She will be placing her work in a European context of female illustrators such as Ingrid Vang Nyman (illustrator of the Pippi Longstocking books) and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator of the Paddington Bear series). Sitzia also plans to organise a series of lectures on this subject. In another series of lectures, she will explore the role of illustration as reception of literary texts.

Broad knowledge and experience

Books and illustrations, art history and literary theory take centre stage in Sitzia’s research and teaching. Her areas of interest include the relationship between word and image, European art from the 18th to the 20th century and art literature (including artist's novels and art criticism). She is also interested in interdisciplinary methodologies, cultural education, museology, curation and the history of art museums. Her book Art in Literature: Literature in Art in 19th century France (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne) was published in 2012.

Sitzia will be teaching theory and history of illustration to Art History and Book Studies students. She will also supervise students who are writing their thesis and conducting PhD research.

The chair forms part of the Art History and Cultural Studies/Book Studies capacity groups of the Arts and Culture department of the Faculty of Humanities. The research will be carried out under the auspices of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research.


Sitzia has been an associate professor since 2012 and programme director of the Master's programme in Art, Culture and Heritage at Maastricht University since 2016. Previously, she worked eight years at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, first as a lecturer and then a senior lecturer in European Art History and Theory. From 2001 to 2004, she lectured in the French department of Åbo Akademi University in Turku (Finland), where she also obtained her PhD. Sitzia obtained a BA and MA in French literature at Université Paris X (France), as well as a BA and MA in Art History at Université Paris X and Goethe University Frankfurt (Germany), respectively.

About the Fiep Westendorp Foundation

The Fiep Westendorp Foundation was created by Fiep Westendorp. One of its primary aims is to support research and teaching within the field of illustration. To this end, the special chair in Illustration was established at the UvA in 2008 in order to increase the standing and importance of illustration in the fullest sense. In addition, the Foundation supports projects aimed at children who, for whatever reason, are less well-off, including children in refugee centres, as well as projects designed to develop cultural and artistic sensitivity in children. Every two years, the Foundation awards Fiep Westendorp Incentive prizes in support of young illustrators.