HBA Book Awards Before 2016

N.B. A Word file with past committees’ shortlists of books, published between 2013 and 2016, is available here»

2015 Awards
For books published in 2013

HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period before 1800

Matthew C. Hunter, Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-0226017297, $55.


In late seventeenth-century London, the most provocative images were produced not by artists, but by scientists. Magnified fly-eyes drawn with the aid of microscopes, apparitions cast on laboratory walls by projection machines, cut-paper figures revealing the “exact proportions” of sea monsters—all were created by members of the Royal Society of London, the leading institutional platform of the early Scientific Revolution. Wicked Intelligence reveals that these natural philosophers shaped Restoration London’s emergent artistic cultures by forging collaborations with court painters, penning art theory, and designing triumphs of baroque architecture such as St Paul’s Cathedral.

Matthew C. Hunter brings to life this archive of experimental-philosophical visualization and the deft cunning that was required to manage such difficult research. Offering an innovative approach to the scientific image-making of the time, he demonstrates how the Restoration project of synthesizing experimental images into scientific knowledge, as practiced by Royal Society leaders Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren, might be called “wicked intelligence.” Hunter uses episodes involving specific visual practices—for instance, concocting a lethal amalgam of wax, steel, and sulfuric acid to produce an active model of a comet—to explore how Hooke, Wren, and their colleagues devised representational modes that aided their experiments. Ultimately, Hunter argues, the craft and craftiness of experimental visual practice both promoted and menaced the artistic traditions on which they drew, turning the Royal Society projects into objects of suspicion in Enlightenment England.

The first book to use the physical evidence of Royal Society experiments to produce forensic evaluations of how scientific knowledge was generated, Wicked Intelligence rethinks the parameters of visual art, experimental philosophy, and architecture at the cusp of Britain’s imperial power and artistic efflorescence.

HBA Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800

G. A. Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, 1840–1870 (New Haven and London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2013), 364 pages, ISBN: 978-0300187038, $95.


The Gothic Revival movement in architecture was intimately entwined with 18th- and 19th-century British cultural politics. By the middle of the 19th century, architects and theorists had transformed the movement into a serious scholarly endeavor, connecting it to notions of propriety and “truth,” particularly in the domain of religious architecture. Simultaneously, reform within the Church of England had worked to widen the aesthetic and liturgical appeal of ‘correct’ gothic forms. Coinciding with these developments, both architectural and religious, was the continued expansion of Britain’s empire, including a renewed urgency by the English Church to extend its mission beyond the British Isles.

In this groundbreaking new study, G. A. Bremner traces the global reach and influence of the Gothic Revival throughout Britain’s empire during these crucial decades. Focusing on religious buildings, he examines the reinvigoration of the Church of England’s colonial and missionary agenda and its relationship to the rise of Anglican ecclesiology, revealing the extraordinary nature and extent of building activity that occurred across the British world.

HBA Book Award for an Exemplary Multi-authored Book

Susan Weber, ed., William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (New Haven: Yale University Press for the Bard Graduate Center, New York, 2013), 704 pages, ISBN: 978-0300196184, $85.

The most versatile British designer of the 18th century, William Kent (1685–1748) created a style for a new nation and monarchy. The scope of his achievements encompasses architecture, palatial interiors, elaborate gardens, and exquisite furniture. Among his creative innovations are bold combinations of elements from Palladian, rococo, and gothic design, anticipating the intermingling of architectural styles we see today. William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain is the first comprehensive exploration of this important designer and his extraordinary creations.

An international team of the foremost experts in the field examines the entire spectrum of Kent’s oeuvre, including the interiors at Kensington Palace and Houghton Hall. Essays illuminate issues about the authorship of Kent’s furniture and metalwork, situate his contributions in relation to architectural discourse, and classify the characteristics of his designs. Copiously illustrated, including many stunning new photographs, this handsome volume celebrates the work and career of one of the most influential figures in the history of architecture and design.

2014 Awards
For books published in 2012

Before 1800: Christiane Hille, Visions of the Courtly Body: The Patronage of George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham, and the Triumph of Painting at the Stuart Court (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2012).

After 1800: Mark Crinson, Stirling and Gowan: Architecture from Austerity to Affluence (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2012).

Multi-Author: Maria Hayward and Philip Ward, The Inventory of King Henry VIII: Textiles and Dress (Turnhout: Harvey Miller, 2012).
María Dolores Sánchez-Jáuregui Alpañés and Scott Wilcox eds., The English Prize: The Capture of the Westmorland (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).

2013 Awards
for books published in 2011

Before 1800: John Goodall, The English Castle: 1066–1650 (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Arts, 2011).

After 1800: Denise Blake Oleksijczuk, The First Panoramas: Visions of British Imperialism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

Multi-Author: David Coke and Alan Berg, Vauxhall Gardens: A History (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2011).

2012 Awards
for books published in 2010

Before 1800: Celina Fox, The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2010).

After 1800: Morna O’Neill, Walter Crane: The Arts and Crafts, Painting, and Politics, 1875–1890 (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2010).

Multi-Author: Cassandra Albinson, Peter Funnell, and Lucy Peltz, eds., Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).

2011 Awards
for books published in 2009

Before 1800: Kevin Sharpe, Selling the Tudor Monarchy: Authority and Image in Sixteenth-Century England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

After 1800: Marcia Pointon, Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewellery (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2009).

Multi-Author: Peter Trippi, Elizabeth Prettejohn, Robert Upstone, Patty Wageman, and J. W. Waterhouse, The Modern Pre-Raphaelite (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2009).

2003 Awards
for books published in 2002 and announced in January 2004

Before 1800: Alex Kidson, George Romney, 1734–1802 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).

After 1800: Anne Helmreich, The English Garden and National Identity: The Competing Styles of Garden Design, 1870–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Multi-Author: David Peters Corbett, Ysanne Holt, and Fiona Russell, eds., The Geographies of Englishness: Landscape and the National Past, 1880–1940 (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2002).

2002 Awards
for books published in 2001 and announced in January 2003

Before 1800: Nigel Llewellyn, Funeral Monuments in Post-Reformation England
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

After 1800: Clare A. P. Willsdon, Mural Painting in Britain, 1840–1940: Image and Meaning (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Multi-Author: Bernadette Fort and Angela Rosenthal, eds., The Other Hogarth: Aesthetics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).

2000 Awards
for books published in 1999 and announced in January 2001

Before 1800: Beth Fowkes Tobin, Picturing Imperial Power: Colonial Subjects in Eighteenth-Century British Painting (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999).

After 1800: Tanya Harrod, The Crafts in Britain in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press,1999).

Multi-Author: Robyn Asleson, ed., with essays by Robyn Asleson, Shelley Bennett and Mark Leonard, and Shearer West, A Passion for Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 1999).

1999 Awards
for books published in 1998 and announced in January 2000

Before 1800: James Ayres, Building the Georgian City (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1998.

After 1800: Linda Merrill, The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography (New Haven: Yale University Press 1998).

1998 Awards
for books published in 1997 and announced in January 1999

Nineteenth Century: Linda Gertner Zatlin, Beardsley, Japonisme, and the Perversion of the Victorian Ideal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Other: David Peters Corbett, The Modernity of English Art, 1914–1930 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.

1997 Awards
for books published in 1996 and announced in January 1998

Nineteenth Century: Diane Sachko Macleod, Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

Other: Diana Donald, The Age of Caricature: Satirical Prints in the Reign of George III (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1996).

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