Yale books prevail at the 2012 William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History
Yale University Press is proud to announce that The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman has been awarded the prestigious William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History. The six-strong shortlist for the prize included a magnificent five Yale titles. Today we take a look at Terry Friedman’s winning book, as well Yale’s runners-up.
Last night was a special night for Yale University Press. At an evening reception in Central London, the art historian Sir Timothy Clifford announced that Terry Friedman’s The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain had been awarded the coveted William MB Berger Prize for British Art History. Friedman accepted the £5,000 award, in a shortlist also dominated by Yale art history books.
The Berger Prize was established in 2001 by the Berger Collection Educational Trust and The British Art Journal, to recognize excellence in the history of British art. The prize is awarded annually in July, to an outstanding book, exhibition or exhibition catalogue, and was created to recognize that some of the very finest work in art history is being carried out in the field of British art. Since its inception, the Berger Prize has come to be recognized as the most prestigious in the field.
Terry Friedman’s winning book The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain, is an ambitious and generously illustrated study of the architectural character of a vast range of ecclesiastical buildings, including the Anglican parish churches, medieval cathedrals repaired and modified during the period, Dissenting and Catholic chapels (as well as town-house, country-house, college and hospital chapels) and mausoleums. The first substantial study of the subject to appear in over half a century, it explores not only the physical aspects of these buildings, but church-going activities from the cradle to the grave, ranging from how congregations were accommodated and how vicars lived, to how the finances were organized and musical events were arranged.
Terry Friedman, one of the world’s leading historians of eighteenth-century British architecture, guides the reader through the church, identifying its various components along the way, and confronts such issues as the use of authentic colour and the worship of images (with special attention to pictorial painted glass). He describes the multifarious causes of rebuilding and new-builds – decay, destruction by storms and fire – the contributions of architects, builders and craft persons, and the construction and maintenance of the fabric of the buildings. Friedman also traces the progress of Gothic and how it was expressed in hundreds of churches up and down the country, and discusses hitherto disregarded aspects such as the revival of Romanesque and the idiosyncratic hybridisation of Gothic and Classical in the same building (the ‘Bastard Breed’).
The Classical tradition is treated in separate, distinct categories: the Baroque of Antique temple forms; the persistence of Palladian, Jonesian, Wrenian and Gibbsian patterns; the emergence and development of Neoclassicism in the works of Adam, Chambers, Dance, Stuart and others; and, the dazzling example of Greenwich Hospital Chapel. A closing chapter charts the impact beyond Britain, especially in America and the burgeoning United States. In addition, fully documented, chronologically sequenced design and construction histories of 272 key ecclesiastical buildings are presented on an accompanying CD-ROM.
Friedman’s book is an extraordinary scholarly achievement, and Yale is delighted that it has gained the recognition as a fine addition to the canon of British art history titles. But last night was not only a victory for Friedman, but for the runners-up, whose books have now been equally recognised as some of the best British arts books published in the last year. Yale’s shortlisted titles are as follows:
The English Castle: 1066-1650
From coast to coast, the English landscape is still richly studded with castles both great and small. The English Castle by John Goodall is a riveting architectural study that sets this legion of buildings in historical context, tracing their development from the Norman Conquest in 1066 through the civil wars of the 1640s. This compellingly written volume, which includes over 350 illustrations, brings to life the history of the English castle over six centuries. Goodall, architectural editor of Country Life, explores the varied architecture of these buildings and describes their changing roles in warfare, politics, domestic living, and governance.
Inigo Jones: The Architect of Kings
Inigo Jones (1573-1652) is widely acknowledged to have been England’s most important architect. As court designer to the Stuart kings James I and Charles I, he is credited with introducing the classical language of architecture to the country. He famously travelled to Italy and studied firsthand the buildings of the Italian masters, particularly admiring those by Andrea Palladio. Much less well-known is the profound influence of native British arts and crafts on Jones’ architecture. Likewise, his hostility to the more opulent forms of Italian architecture he saw on his travels has largely gone unnoted. Hart’s book examines both of these overlooked issues, and identifies well-established links between the classical column and the crown prior to Jones, in early Stuart masques, processions, heraldry, paintings, and poems. For the first time, the work of Inigo Jones is understood in its national religious and political context.
John Zoffany RA Society Observed
Johan Zoffany (1733-1810) was an astute observer of the many social circles in which he functioned as an artist over the course of his long career. This catalogue investigates his sharp wit, shrewd political appraisal, and perceptive social commentary (including subtle allusions to illicit relationships) – all achieved while presenting his subjects as delightful and sophisticated members of polite society.
A skilled networker, Zoffany established himself at the court of George III and Queen Charlotte soon after his arrival in England from his native Germany. At the same time, he befriended the leading actor David Garrick and through him became the foremost portrayer of Georgian theatre. His brilliant effects and deft style were well suited to theatricality of all sorts, enabling him to secure patronage in England and on the continent. Following a prolonged visit to Italy he travelled to India, where he quickly became a popular and established member within the circle of Warren Hastings, the governor-general. This volume provides a sparkling overview of his finest works.
Johan Zoffany: 1733-1810
Despite his renown, Zoffany remained without a detailed study of his life and works owing to the fascinating and complex vicissitudes of his career, now established from widely scattered sources. The delightful inventions of his conversation pieces proved, then as now, fashionably successful images of private lives and led to his swift rise into the royal patronage of George III and Queen Charlotte. Sent by the queen to paint the celebrated Tribuna of the Uffizi in Florence, Zoffany while there received commissions from the Empress Maria Theresa for family portraits which took him to the courts of Vienna and Parma.
Back in London but out of favour with the fashionable world, he left for the Bengal of Warren Hastings. Portraying the Anglo-Indian society of Calcutta, and working up-country at the glittering court of the Nawab of Lucknow, he developed a serious interest in Indian life and landscape. His fortune made, he returned with impaired health, but continued painting pictures of India, theatrical scenes and portraits, turning in old age to attack the bloody progress of the French revolution. Zoffany set foot in so many worlds that their contrast alone gives a constantly changing interest to the history of his life and work: his pictures document with incomparable liveliness the worlds and people among whom he moved.
All of these titles are now available from Yale University Press. For more information on the Berger Prize visit the official website.