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Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize

The Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize was established in 1957, in memory of a founding member of the CAA and one of the first American scholars of the discipline. This award seeks to encourage high scholarly standards among younger members of the profession. The prize is awarded for a distinguished article published in The Art Bulletin during the previous calendar year (2016 for the 2017 award) by a scholar of any nationality who is under the age of thirty-five or who has received the doctorate not more than ten years before acceptance of the article for publication.

2016 Winner

Matthew C. Hunter
“Joshua Reynolds’s ‘Nice Chymistry’: Action and Accident in the 1770s,” The Art Bulletin, March 2015

Matthew C. Hunter’s intriguing contribution reveals Joshua Reynold’s actual painting practice to have been in conflict with his theory as expressed in his Discourses to the Royal Academy.  The advocate of the grand style, who held Raphael as the ideal painter, based on his drawing process and monumental classical compositions, was fascinated by the color of the Venetian painters whom he publically disparaged as wishing merely to dazzle. Reviving the Cinquecento debate of disegno vs colorito, Reynolds taught that drawing was fundamental, while he himself experimented with color and with short-cuts in execution. Due to the intervening commercialization of pigments, the late eighteenth century painter was a poor chemist.  Workshop knowledge of painters’ materials and techniques was largely missing, but Hunter situates Reynolds at a  moment of nascent interest in chemistry in Great Britain. Reynolds set out to recapture this missing knowledge in an experimental fashion, casting himself as an alchemist capable of concocting pigments from materials picked up from “dunghills”, and recommending experimentation in a passage from his Discourse VI of 1774. Contemporaries reported that Reynolds was so obsessed with the pursuit of color and speed that his portraits aged together with their sitters. Hunter’s argument is documented with carefully excavated contemporary accounts by Reynold’s associates, critics and successors, conservators’ views, and images of his ruined pictures. In the larger scope of art history, this transformative article illustrates the importance of studying the materials of art side by side with history and theory.

Jury: Diana Gisolfi, Pratt Institute, chair; Lauren Hackworth Petersen, University of Delaware; and Kelsey Robin, Harvard University.

Past Winners

One of CAA’s longest-running awards, the Porter prize has been awarded to superb articles in Western European art and architecture but has increasingly recognized a wider range of topics (in American, Chinese, Japanese, and Assyrian art) since the 1990s. Past winners include three-time winner Irving Lavin (1960, 1963, and 1970) and, most recently, Marnin Young, Fabio Barry, and Elizabeth Marlowe. Of special note is the 1967 Porter given to Linda Nochlin for her article “Gustave Courbet’s Meeting: A Portrait of the Artist as a Wandering Jew.”

Read a list of all winners of the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize from 1958 to the present.

Award Nominations

CAA has begun accepting nominations for the 2017 awards. Please review the guidelines to familiarize yourself with the nomination process and to download, complete, and submit the requested materials. Deadline: July 31, 2016, for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Awards, and the Frank Jewett Mather Award; August 31, 2016, for all others.

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