The Historians of British Art Book Prize Committee is pleased to announce the Book Award winners for publications produced in the 2020 calendar year. The winners were chosen from a nominating list of seventy books from twenty-five different presses. Awards were granted in five different categories.
The award for a single-authored book with a subject before 1600 goes to Jessica Barker, Stone Fidelity: Marriage and Emotion in Medieval Tomb Sculpture, published by Boydell Press.
The award for a single-authored book with a subject between 1600-1800 is jointly awarded to Kate Fullagar, The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire, published by Yale University Press, and Matthew Reeve, Gothic Architecture and Sexuality: The Circle of Horace Walpole, published by the Penn State University Press.
The award for a single-authored book with a subject between 1800-1960 goes to Zoë Thomas, Women Art Workers and the Arts and Crafts Movement, published by Manchester University Press.
The award for a single authored-book with a contemporary subject goes to Sam Wetherell, Foundations: How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain, published by Princeton University Press.
The multi-authored book prize is awarded to Susan Weber, Catherine Arbuthnott, Jo Briggs, Eleanor Hughes, Earl Martin, and Laura Microulis, eds., Majolica Mania, published for the Bard Graduate Center by Yale University Press.
Steve McQueen, edited by Clara Kim and Fiontán Moran, and published by the Tate, is Highly Commended in the same category.
HBA would like to offer congratulations to the winning authors and the publishing teams at the Bard Graduate Center, Boydell Press, Manchester University Press, Penn State University Press, Princeton University Press, Tate Publishing, and Yale University Press.
This year’s committee of readers consisted of Alison Syme (Chair), Jongwoo Kim, Julian Luxford, and Temi Odumosu.
HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period before 1600
Jessica Barker, Stone Fidelity: Marriage and Emotion in Medieval Tomb Sculpture, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2020. ISBN: 978-1-783-27271-6
Stone Fidelity is an extended and powerful meditation on the significance of gesture in late medieval monumental sculpture. Its central contention is that the spousal effigies on “double” tombs of the period reflect cultural standards in far greater detail than has previously been recognized. As such, they are evidence of and for the sociology of marriage (and same-sex partnerships) in all their complexity, including their sacramental, legal, emotional, and sexual aspects. While the majority of examples are English, evidence is drawn from countries throughout Europe, and from a gamut of patrons from queens and kings to rural gentry. Jessica Barker is to be congratulated for wresting a subject so rich in interpretive potential from the dead hand of archaeology.
Jessica Barker is Senior Lecturer in Medieval Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her research emphasizes sculpture and ranges across northern Europe and the Iberian peninsula. She is the co-editor of Revisiting the Monument: Fifty Years Since Panofsky’s Tomb Sculpture and has published on death and commemoration in journals including Art History, The Burlington Magazine, Gesta, and The Sculpture Journal. Stone Fidelity: Marriage and Emotion in Medieval Tomb Sculpture is her first scholarly monograph.
HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period between 1600-1800
Kate Fullagar, The Warrior, The Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire, New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0-300-24306-2
The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire is a beautifully written, refreshing, and important book that considers Britain’s complex imperial entanglements through the stories of three people linked by painted portraits. It uses life-writing as a method to peer into the politics, motives, situations, and events that enabled Sir Joshua Reynolds to produce likenesses of Cherokee leader Ostenaco and Pacific Islander traveler Mai. The book therefore considers how different indigenous presences and perspectives enter historical records, and in so doing deftly reveals that the British imperial gaze was also being soberly and critically returned. Fullagar is clear about the imaginative struggles surrounding Reynolds’s portrait-making process, at a time of violent ideological enclosure around notions of the human, including the exotification of Native American and Pacific Islander people. However, the book is distinct in the ways it pays close and careful attention, watching the archive for anecdotes and citations that craft impressions of living, breathing, feeling subjects.
Kate Fullagar is Professor of History at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University. She specializes in the history of the eighteenth-century world, particularly the British Empire and the many indigenous societies it encountered. She is the author of The Savage Visit (Berkeley, 2012); the editor of The Atlantic World in the Antipodes: Effects and Transformations since the Eighteenth Century (Newcastle, 2012); and co-editor with Michael McDonnell of Facing Empire: Indigenous Experiences in a Revolutionary Age (Baltimore, 2018). She is Lead Chief Investigator of an ARC Linkage project with the National Portrait Gallery called Facing New Worlds.
HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period between 1600-1800
Matthew Reeve, Gothic Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole, University Park, PA: Penn State University Press. ISBN: 978-0-271-08588-3
Matthew Reeve provides a wonderfully written, original, and compelling exposition of Gothic architecture during the eighteenth century, as sites transformed by existential and bodily desires. Gothic Architecture and Sexuality explores the ways in which modern sexual subjectivities emerged in relation to specific artistic and cultural practices that turned towards the Gothic as a liberatory aesthetics. The book’s focus is the medieval interests (and obsessions) of patrons and practitioners in the social circle of Horace Walpole, men who were instrumental in reviving and sustaining Gothic imaginative power during the period, and beyond. By keenly entering this group’s dream spaces, Reeve beautifully reconstructs lived environments filled with erotic keepsakes, impassioned novels, and ornamental fixtures that enliven a more nuanced view of elite society and architectural investments in Britain.
Matthew M. Reeve is Associate Professor of Art History at Queen’s University and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He specializes in medieval and modern art with particular interests in art, architecture, and aesthetics c. 1000 – 1500, episodes of medievalism in modern art, and the relationship of architecture and the decorative arts to the history of sexuality. He is the author of Thirteenth-Century Wall Painting of Salisbury Cathedral: Art, Liturgy and Reform (Boydell and Brewer, 2008), and editor of Tributes to Pierre Du Prey: Architecture and the Classical Tradition, from Pliny to Posterity (Harvey Miller, 2014) and Reading Gothic Architecture (Brepols, 2008). His current projects include Gothic art, Colonization, and Spirituality in Wales, c. 1170-1540, the Gothic sculpture of Wells Cathedral c. 1170-1270, and a study of the role of the Grand Tour in shaping queer aesthetics in Britain.
HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period between 1800-1960
Zoë Thomas, Women Art Workers and the Arts and Crafts Movement, Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN: 978-1-5261-4043-2
Zoë Thomas’s Women Art Workers draws on recent archival discoveries to significantly revise our understanding of the role of women in the Arts and Crafts movement, challenging a longstanding focus on elite male exemplars. Focused on women’s negotiation of a patriarchal cultural landscape (the Art Workers’ Guild remained male-only until 1964), Thomas explores the ways women networked and promoted their work and careers in a variety of spaces including guild halls, exhibitions, studios, and print culture. The Women’s Guild of Arts and the Englishwoman Exhibition receive detailed examination in this account, which introduces us to virtually unknown figures as well as more familiar ones, and considers how they demonstrated their expertise, asserted authenticity, negotiated the demands of respectability and commerce, and entered the public sphere through the Suffrage movement and the war.
Zoë Thomas is Associate Professor in Modern History at the University of Birmingham. She specializes in the history of work, artistic culture, and women’s lives. She has co-edited two collections: Suffrage and the Arts: Visual Culture, Politics and Enterprise (Bloomsbury, 2018) and Precarious Professionals: Gender, Identity and Social Change in Modern British History (London Historical Society, 2021). Women Art Workers and the Arts and Crafts Movement is her first scholarly monograph. Other publications include essays that span the history of the suffrage campaigns, the Arts and Crafts movement, historical pageantry, global feminisms, the development of professional cultures, and women’s small-scale entrepreneurship. Her current research project examines collaborating couples in the anglophone world, 1850-1950.
HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Contemporary Period
Sam Wetherell, Foundations: How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN: 978-0-691-19375-5
Sam Wetherell analyzes inequities of society reconfigured – rarely remedied – by the urban built environment in the twentieth century. Centering on six case studies (the industrial estate, shopping precinct, council estate, private flats, shopping malls, and suburban office park) and the shift from the developmental state to neoliberalism, Foundations helps the reader to recognize the unexpected life and histories of city space and buildings untethered from original policies of social engineering. Wetherell demonstrates how council housing discriminated against immigrants and people of color in post-war Britain but also shows how architectural mutation and diversion in property democracy can sometimes become regenerative as well, when a shopping mall can be redeemed as a protest site of Black Lives Matter. Chapter to chapter, full of lively discussions and penetrating insights, Wetherell deftly reveals “the historical fragility and downright weirdness of places that have come to feel mundane and familiar to so many of us.”
Sam Wetherell is a Lecturer in the History of Britain and the World at the University of York. He specializes in urban history, black British history, and histories of culture and art-making. He is currently working on a history of Liverpool since 1945 that ties together histories of racial inequality, decolonization, deindustrialization, and environmental degradation provisionally titled “The Burden of Obsolescence: Liverpool and the Un-Making of Modern Britain.” Foundations: How the Built Environment Made Twentieth-Century Britain is his first scholarly monograph.
HBA Book Award for an Exemplary Multi-authored Book
Susan Weber, Catherine Arbuthnott, Jo Briggs, Eleanor Hughes, Earl Martin, and Laura Microulis, eds., Majolica Mania, published for the Bard Graduate Center by Yale University Press. ISBN: 9780300251043
From beehive Stilton cheese stands to cockatoo jugs, the three lavishly illustrated volumes of Majolica Mania offer a visual fantasia that is as fascinating and comprehensive as its scholarship. The highly modeled, brightly colored, lead-glazed earthenware introduced by Minton & Co. at the Great Exhibition of 1851 became an international commercial sensation over the next few decades, and companies produced and copied wares inspired by sources ranging from Renaissance precedents to Darwinism for all sectors of the market. Majolica’s historiography, design, production, uses (from architectural decoration and sculpture to hygienic dishware), iconographies, relationship to design reform, promotion through exhibitions, and more are explored in this major research undertaking, which definitively establishes the importance of these ceramics for our understanding of 19th-century culture, and offers serious delight while doing so.
Catherine Arbuthnott is a researcher and Consulting Curator of Exhibitions at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC). She has contributed to several BGC Gallery publications on British designers, including E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer (1999); Thomas Jeckyll: Architect and Designer, 1827-1881 (2003); James “Athenian” Stuart, 1713-1788: The Rediscovery of Antiquity (2006); William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (2013); and John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London (2017).
Jo Briggs is Jennie Walters Delano Curator of 18th- and 19th-Century Art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on British, French, and German art, and her research has appeared in Art History, Oxford Art Journal, Victorian Studies, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, and Visual Culture in Britain. In 2016, her first book, Novelty Fair: British Visual Culture between Chartism and the Great Exhibition, was published by Manchester University Press. As a curator, she has collaborated on exhibitions of French orientalist art, American sculpture, Russian decorative arts, and the history of collecting.
Eleanor Hughes is a writer and editor whose book Spreading Canvas: Eighteenth-Century British Marine Painting (2016) is the previous recipient of an HBA book prize. She has published and taught widely on British and American art. As Associate Director for Exhibitions and Publications, and Associate Curator at the Yale Center for British Art, she organized many major exhibitions and oversaw the publication, in association with Yale University Press, of more than 25 books. From 2015 to 2021 she was the Deputy Director for Art & Program at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, where she led the reinstallation and reinterpretation of 1 West Mount Vernon Place and published The Walters Art Museum: Excursions through the Collection (2020). Her recent editorial work includes Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux’s “Why Born Enslaved!” Reconsidered (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2022).
Earl Martin is an Associate Curator at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC), and a specialist in design and decorative arts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During his tenure at the BGC, he has curated Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010 (2011) and overseen numerous other exhibitions and publications, including Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick (2009); Swedish Wooden Toys (2015); and John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London (2017). Before coming to the BGC, he was a curatorial intern in the product design and decorative arts department of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where he earned his MA in the program administered by Parsons School of Design, The New School.
Laura Microulis is Research Curator at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC). A material culture scholar specializing in nineteenth-century decorative arts and design, she has focused in her published work on the recovery of institutional histories, the nature of patronage relationships, and the narrative life cycles of objects and interiors. She holds an MA and PhD from the BGC.
Susan Weber is Founder and Director of the Bard Graduate Center, where she is the Iris Horowitz Professor in the History of Decorative Arts. She is the author of The Secular Furniture of E. W. Godwin (1999) and editor and contributing editor of the catalogue E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer (1999). She has co-authored and served as editor for numerous exhibition catalogues, including Thomas Jeckyll: Architect and Designer, 1827-1881 (2003); Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry (2004); James “Athenian” Stuart, 1713-1788: The Rediscovery of Antiquity (2006); William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (2013); and John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London (2017). She is the recipient of many awards, including the Philip C. Johnson Award of the Society of Architectural Historians (2005), Soane Foundation Honors from Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation (2010), and the College Art Association’s Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award (2015).
Highly Commended for Exemplary Scholarship in a Multi-authored Book
Clara Kim and Fiotán Moran eds., Steve McQueen, London: Tate Publishing. ISBN 9781849766784
In the exhibition catalogue Steve McQueen, which focuses on the artist’s practices between his 1999 Turner Prize and 2014 Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave, editors Clara Kim and Fiontán Moran have created a thoughtfully beautiful object that disorients, re-enchants, and enlightens readers page after page. Partly printed on coarse brown paper that mirrors the grainy texture of McQueen’s films like Western Deep(2002), the book’s physicality adds an unexpected dimension to its contents: the haptic reticulation of the golden mosquito net over a prison bed in McQueen’s 2016 installation Weight in Reading Gaol, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain, for instance, is not so much seen as felt in the rough surface of the pages. Dispersed in the book between dense arrays of pictures are short, elucidating essays. Kim’s, analyzing McQueen’s exploration of the world’s deepest gold mine and black male bodies, stands out. In Hamza Walker’s interview with the artist, McQueen explains that “the artwork is not necessarily limited to what’s happening within the frame: it’s where it leads you to.” This catalogue leads readers to a richer understanding of the artist’s decolonial, queer visuality in the most unexpected ways.
Clara Kim is The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. Recent curatorial projects include a survey exhibition Steve McQueen (2020), co-curated with Fiontán Moran; 2019 Hyundai commission Kara Walker; Fons Americanus; and A Year in Art: 1973 Chile, all at Tate Modern. She was co-convenor of the international conferences Axis of Solidarity: Landmarks, Platforms, Futures (2019) with Cornell University’s ICM and Sharjah Art Foundation; and Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City (2021) with The Liverpool School of Architecture. Outside of her work at Tate, Kim curated Imagined Nations/Modern Utopias for the 2018 Gwangju Biennale and Condemned to be Modern as part of the Getty Foundation’s PST initiative in 2017 – both exhibitions examined the contested legacies of modernism through art and architecture. Kim has previously held curatorial positions at the Walker Art Center, REDCAT/CalArts, and SFMOMA.
Fiontán Moran is an Assistant Curator at Tate Modern where he has co-curated the exhibitions Performing for the Camera (2016), Andy Warhol (2020), and with Clara Kim Steve McQueen (2020). As part of his role, he has worked on the performance and film programs Charming for the Revolution: A Congress for Gender Talents and Wildness (2013), A Cinema of Songs and People: The Films of Anand Patwardhan (2013), and Wolfgang Tillman’s South Tank (2017). He is currently working on a display and live program based around Trisha Brown’s 1983 dance Set and Reset. In addition to his work at Tate, Moran has performed as part of the queer collective CAMPerVAN and is the founder of the zine Death Becomes Herr.
The book prize committee would also like to recognize the excellent scholarship of the finalists in each category:
Exemplary Scholarship on the Period before 1600
Catherine E. Karkov. Imagining Anglo-Saxon England: Utopia, Heterotopia, Dystopia. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2020.
Jeanne Nuechterlein, Hans Holbein: The Artist in a Changing World. London: Reaktion, 2020.
Exemplary Scholarship on the Period between 1600-1800
Claudia Kinmonth. Irish Country Furniture and Furnishings 1700-2000. Cork: Cork University Press, 2020.
Martin Myrone. Making the Modern Artist: Culture, Class and Art-Educational Opportunity in Romantic Britain c. 1770-1840. London and New Haven: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art / Yale University Press, 2020.
Exemplary Scholarship on the Period between 1800-1960
Melody B. Deusner. Aesthetic Painting in Britain and America: Collectors, Art Worlds, Networks. London and New Haven: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art / Yale University Press, 2020.
Dianne Waggoner. Lewis Carroll’s Photography and Modern Childhood. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020.
Exemplary Multi-authored Book
Simon Grennan, Roger Sabin, and Julian Waite, Eds. Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian Cartoonist. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020.