Yale books prevail at the 2012 William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History
Monday, 09 July 2012
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. The £5,000 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.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 respected British art history books. The prize, which was awarded on Thursday 5 July, 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 art history books published in the last year.
Yale’s shortlisted titles are as follows: