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Charles Rufus Morey Book Award

The Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, named in honor of one of the founding members of CAA and first teachers of art history in the United States, was established in 1953. This award honors an especially distinguished book in the history of art, published in the English language. Preference is given to books, including catalogues raisonnés, by a single author, but major publications in the form of articles or group studies may be included. Publication of documents or inventories, unless specifically in the context of an exhibition, are also eligible. The 2016 award year covers books published between September 1, 2014, and August 31, 2015.

2015 Winner

Megan Holmes

Megan Holmes

Megan Holmes’s The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence is an outstanding contribution to the study of Italian Renaissance art. Clearly organized, copiously illustrated, and accessible to specialist and non-specialist alike, Holmes’s book is richly interdisciplinary, bringing important insights and methodologies from religious history, urban history, and anthropology to bear upon a deep understanding of the history of Renaissance art while calling into question received notions of authorship, patronage, and historical self-consciousness.

Holmes’s scrupulous, wide-ranging research, conducted in archival repositories across Florence, brings to light the appeal of miracle-working art in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. The author traces objects through space—mapping them onto the geography of the city—and time, analyzing changes in works of art and their display as a consequence of their miracle-working associations. One of the many strengths of The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence is the author’s close attention to these objects’ formal and physical properties. What especially distinguishes the book is the way Holmes links her detailed visual analyses to methodological and historiographical questions. From her research, we come to appreciate an alternative visual tradition in the Florentine Renaissance—a tradition, as Holmes shows, of embodied, sensory, and highly emotive responses to works of art. In addition, Holmes provides an analysis of art consumption that moves beyond the city’s educated elite and encompasses a much broader public world. Finally, Holmes demonstrates that the emerging sense of historical self-consciousness, which many argue defines the Renaissance mindset, did not exclude earlier somatic and emotive modes of viewing. For many fifteenth and sixteenth century religious institutions, the miracle-working art work’s identity as a historical object was an essential part of its authority and appeal.

Jury: Alan Wallach, College of William and Mary, chair; Zainab Bahrani, Columbia University; Mary Coffey, Dartmouth College; Anne D. Hedeman, Kansas University, and Kristina Wilson, Clark University.

Past Winners

The first Morey award went to H. W. Janson in 1956 for Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He also received the award again in 1961 for Sculpture of Donatello. A three-time winner, Erwin Panofsky, was recognized for Early Netherlandish Painting (1957), Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (1964), and Tomb Sculpture (1968). Since then, a wide range of books covering all areas and periods of art history have been awarded, including, most recently, Anthony J. Barbieri-Lo’s Artisans in Early Imperial China (2009), Elizabeth C. Mansfield’s Too Beautiful to Picture: Zeuxis, Myth, and Mimesis (2008), and Peter Selz’s Art of Engagement: Visual Politics in California and Beyond (2007).

Read a list of all winners of the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from 1956 to the present, as well as a list of finalists from 1996 to the present.

Award Nominations

CAA has begun accepting nominations for the 2016 awards. Please review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with the nomination process and to download, complete, and submit the requested materials. Deadline: July 31, 2015, for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Awards, and the Frank Jewett Mather Award; August 31, 2015, for all others.

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