Art History Professor Susan Rather has been awarded the 2018 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art for her book The American School: Artists and Status in the Late Colonial and Early National Era (Yale University Press and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016). The prize, given annually by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, recognizes single-author, book-length publications that demonstrate originality and thoroughness of research, excellence of writing, and clarity of method. 

The Eldredge Prize jurors for 2018 were Jennifer Greenhill, associate professor of art history at the University of Southern California; Janet Headley, professor of fine arts at Loyola University of Maryland; and Akela Reason, associate professor of history at the University of Georgia. In a joint statement about The American School, they remarked: “The depth of [Rather’s] knowledge is evident on every page, as she explores artists’ complex negotiations of their place and purpose in the context of shifting conceptions of artistic labor. . . . Rather’s story is, in broader terms, that of American art’s emergence.”

Last year, The American School won the 2017 New England Society Book Award for Art and made the short list for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History. A review by Wendy Bellion, Professor and Sewell Biggs Chair in American Art History at the University of Delaware, helps explain the unusual conjunction of awards for both British and American art history: “The American School will join other prominent studies of early American art . . . as required reading for anyone seeking to excavate the complexities of acting as a British colonial artist in a place that was not Britain—or negotiating one’s Americanness for a place that was not yet America.”

Rather is also author of Archaism, Modernism, and the Art of Paul Manship (1993), which explored issues of modernism in early-twentieth-century American and European sculpture. Her work has been widely published in exhibition catalogues, edited volumes, and journals, including American Art, Art Bulletin, Eighteenth-Century Studies, William and Mary Quarterly, and Winterthur Portfolio. Rather received her undergraduate degree from Denison University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Delaware.

Recent Eldredge Prize recipients include Jennifer L. Roberts (2017) for Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America, Michael Lobel (2016) for John Sloan: Drawing on Illustration, Amy Lyford (2015) for Isamu Noguchi’s Modernism: Negotiating Race, Labor, and Nation, 1930–1950, and UT Austin Provost Maurie McInnis (2012) for Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade.

May 10, 2018
Faculty & Staff
Art History