Category Archives: Art and Visual Studies

Sharon Gregory’s ‘Vasari and the Renaissance Print’ highly commended by the 2014 SRS book prize judges

Vasari and the Renaissance PrintWe’re delighted to learn that Sharon Gregory’s book Vasari and the Renaissance Print was highly commended by the 2014 Society for Renaissance Studies book prize judges.

From the SRS website:

The 2014 SRS book prize was awarded to Alec Ryrie for his book, Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (OUP, 2013). Two other books were highly commended, Guido Alfani, Calamities and the Economy in Renaissance Italy: The Grand Tour of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, trans. Christine Calvert (Palgrave, 2013), and Sharon Gregory, Vasari and the Renaissance Print (Ashgate, 2012).

The judges were impressed by the high standard of the books entered for the prize and were extremely grateful to all the many publishers who sent in their books to the committee making the decision of choosing a winner extremely difficult.

Professor Gregory’s book was singled out by all three judges because of its comprehensive nature and painstaking research in making available for a wide readership all the prints associated with Giorgio Vasari, and for providing a fascinating commentary that explains why they were so central to his thinking and artistic practices. The book is the product of many years of serious scholarship and is exactly the sort of work that justifies what academics do in opening up the archive for others to understand and use and which makes being part of the profession a pleasure. The committee also wishes to congratulate the publishers for producing such high quality images.

Read the full announcement here

About the Author:  Sharon Gregory is Associate Professor in Art History and Erasmus Chair in Renaissance Humanism at St Francis Xavier University, Canada.

As well as being highly Commended for the SRS Book Prize, Vasari and the Renaissance Print also received honorable Mention for the IFPDA Book Award, 2013, and was designated as a US Core Title for 2012 by Yankee Book Peddler.

‘… an exemplary piece of scholarship, deeply considered and scrupulously documented, that will be of interest to curators and historians and literary scholars alike. The first focus here concerns the many uses Vasari made of the prints both for his own artistic production and then for the accounts of those artists included in his text The Lives whose work he knew from evidence such as this. But Gregory also lays out here a fascinating and carefully grounded account of the dissemination of visual materials in this first moment of printing and the ways prints could become a vital part of the larger culture. It is rare to find a study on these subjects that is so sure of its details yet manages also to move beyond them to offer original insights and conclusions.’   David Cast, Bryn Mawr College; author of The Delight of Art: Giorgio Vasari and the Traditions of Humanist Discourse

‘This well-researched and well-structured book examines a number of different aspects of its subject… This very welcome book opens up many perspectives beyond its immediate subject.’ The Burlington Magazine

‘… an ordinary reader with a passing knowledge of Italian Renaissance art will find much of interest in this new book… these essays form a clear, well-sourced analysis of the role of prints in the Renaissance artist’s studio.’   The Art Newspaper

‘This clearly written, well-researched, and intelligently structured book will remain a fundamental point of reference for all those interested in the history of printmaking as well as in Vasari’s fundamental contribution to art history.’   Renaissance Quarterly

‘[Gregory's] very wide-ranging and clearly written text is a valuable source of evidence and ideas for anyone interested in theVite, or for the use of prints in Renaissance workshops.’   Print Quarterly

‘Throughout Vasari and the Renaissance Print the author displays an admirable depth of knowledge with fascinating statistics, such as … the history of prints, Vasari, Florentine history, and print culture in early modern Europe.’   Sixteenth Century Studies Journal

Full information about Vasari and the Renaissance Print

Lund Humphries, in association with Apollo, launches Emerging Art Writers Competition

Ashgate’s sister imprint, Art-book publisher Lund Humphries, is launching a competition in association with Apollo, the International Art Magazine, to find previously unpublished writers who are able to write seriously yet accessibly about art.

Part of Lund Humphries’ year-long 75th birthday celebrations, the Emerging Art Writers competition provides an opportunity for aspiring art writers to showcase their work to movers and shakers from the British art world. The judging panel comprises Lucy Myers, Managing Director of Lund Humphries; Simon Martin, Artistic Director of Pallant House Gallery in Chichester; Ian McKeever RA, acclaimed British painter and printmaker; and Thomas Marks, Editor of Apollo.

Lucy Myers explains: ‘Lund Humphries has a long reputation for producing beautiful art books with serious, well-researched and original texts which are relevant to both specialists and enthusiasts. We support writing which is analytical and thought-provoking, but free of critical theory. I very much hope that some fresh, interesting new voices will emerge through our competition.’

A similar sentiment is expressed by Thomas Marks, Editor of Apollo, who says, ‘Scholarly but accessible; intellectual but stylish; this is exactly the type of writing I’m trying to encourage in Apollo – so I’m very sympathetic to the ethos of the competition.’

Entrants are asked to produce an essay of between 1,500 and 2,500 words which answers the question: What, if anything, is the legacy of British Modernism in British art today? For more information, including full terms and conditions, potential entrants are invited to visit

The deadline for entries is 5 pm on 1 September 2014 and the winner will be announced on 26 November 2014, at Lund Humphries’ flagship 75th birthday event at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The winner will receive two VIP tickets to the ICA event, and Apollo plan to publish the winning essay in the January 2015 issue of the magazine. The winner will also win £75 worth of Lund Humphries art books and have the opportunity to meet with a member of the Lund Humphries commissioning team to discuss future book projects.

‘How to Rival the Old Masters’ … by David Mayernik

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

How to Rival the Old Masters’ …

… is the title of David Mayernik’s fascinating guest blog post for Artist Daily.

In the first of his planned series of posts the concept of emulation is explained, including the materials employed. Follow this link to Artist Daily

David Mayernik is a practising artist and architect, and an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, USA. His book The Challenge of Emulation in Art and Architecture was published by Ashgate in November 2013.

Richard Woodfield, guest blogger and series editor, introduces our new series—Studies in Art Historiography

Ashgate is the first publishing house to focus specifically on the field of art historiography through its series Studies in Art Historiography. Alois Riegl in Vienna

The first book to appear in the series is Diana Reynolds Cordileone’s Alois Riegl in Vienna 1875–1905: An Institutional Biography, which looks at how Riegl’s art historical work was shaped by factors outside of the academic milieu. Riegl was originally a museum curator before becoming a member of the University of Vienna’s prestigious Institute of Art History and in both jobs he was an imperial employee. In his museum work he strove to meet the demands of Austria’s growing textile industry and also expressed views on state policy regarding conservation. In his university lectures Riegl emphasised the importance of a truly scientific approach to art history in opposition to the popular taste for dilettantism and belles lettres. Throughout his work he was concerned with the importance of art for life, generated by his encounter with the ideas of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche in a German-national student club, Leseverein  der deutschen Studenten Wiens.

The series is concerned with art history as a living practice written by individuals and subject to the more general demands of institutional structures. In this respect it is distinct from traditional approaches that centre on the theories of major art historical figures, the staple diet of student textbooks. It seeks to reinvigorate the field by paying close attention to the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of art historical writing and is intended to supplement the work of the Journal of Art Historiography, which has been described by the online Dictionary of Art Historians as ‘the major research organ of the field’.

Two more books are scheduled for publication in 2014: Victorian Perceptions of Renaissance Architecture by Katherine Wheeler, in April, and A Theory of the Tache in Nineteenth-Century Painting by Øystein Sjåstad, in December. Further down the line are The Expressionist Turn in Art History – A Critical Anthology edited by Kim Smith, in early 2015 and Mariette and the Eighteenth-Century Science of the Connoisseur by Kristel Smentek in Winter 2015. Others are being considered for contract and yet more are waiting clearance review. Guidance for potential authors is given at the Journal’s website, which should be browsed for a sense of the difference between ‘art historiography’ and ‘art history’.

Any enquiries concerning the series’ scope should be addressed to its General Editor, Richard Woodfield.

Vasari and the Renaissance Print – IFPDA Honourable Mention for Sharon Gregory

Posted by Bethany Whalley, Marketing Executive

Vasari and the Renaissance PrintOver 500 years since the birth of the Italian painter, writer, historian and architect Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), Ashgate is delighted to congratulate author Sharon Gregory, who has received an Honourable Mention from the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA Book Award 2013) for her book Vasari and the Renaissance Print.

The book was commended by jurors for ‘the unprecedented amount of scholarship devoted to covering this fascinating subject.’ Gregory’s subject comprises Vasari’s interest in the value of engravings and woodblock prints, revealing changing attitudes to – and within – the art industry in the sixteenth-century Italian Renaissance. Vasari capitalised on the burgeoning printmaking industry, understanding the power of the printed image to educate the artist and – perhaps more importantly for Vasari – attract the eye of the wealthy and influential patron.


‘… an exemplary piece of scholarship, deeply considered and scrupulously documented, that will be of interest to curators and historians and literary scholars alike … It is rare to find a study on these subjects that is so sure of its details yet manages also to move beyond them to offer original insights and conclusions.’   David Cast, Bryn Mawr College; author of The Delight of Art: Giorgio Vasari and the Traditions of Humanist Discourse

‘This clearly written, well-researched, and intelligently structured book will remain a fundamental point of reference for all those interested in the history of printmaking as well as in Vasari’s fundamental contribution to art history.’ Renaissance Quarterly

About the author: Sharon Gregory is Associate Professor in Art History and Erasmus Chair in Renaissance Humanism at St Francis Xavier University, Canada.

Isabella d’Este and Leonardo da Vinci – Sarah Cockram talks about her new book and its relationship with an exciting recent discovery in Renaissance art

This is a guest post from Sarah Cockram, author of Isabella d’Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court

Isabella deste and francesco gonzagaMy book Isabella d’Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court has come out just in time for those wanting to know more about the subject of a new painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  The portrait of Isabella d’Este (marchesa of Mantua, 1474–1539) has just been discovered in a Swiss bank vault, in a story that would not be out of place in a Dan Brown novel.

A sketch of the Italian Renaissance noblewoman by Leonardo da Vinci is well known and can be seen in the Louvre but it was
believed that, despite Isabella’s wishes, the sketch was never worked up into a painted portrait. The new painting, claimed to be by Leonardo and his assistants (although, if so, unusual in being on canvas rather than wood),
shows Isabella as an enigmatic figure, and comparisons are already being drawn to the Mona Lisa.

Isabella would certainly have enjoyed the controversy and being linked to the famous artist. Isabella strove to be recognised as the foremost woman of her times.  Renowned today as the leading female patron of art in Renaissance Italy, Isabella was also an eminent supporter of music and literature; a trendsetter and fashion icon; and a sharp politician.

As my new book shows, the marchesa worked together with her husband Francesco Gonzaga to keep their state afloat in a turbulent age, and she was not above intrigue and double dealing.  She held her own against the Borgias and has aptly been described as ‘Machiavelli in skirts’.

Sarah CockramSarah D.P. Cockram is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Her book casts new light on a long misunderstood relationship and, drawing on largely unpublished archival material, reveals a world of behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity; network-building; sexual politics and seduction; court rivalries; Machiavellian intrigues and assassinations.

The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon Drury

Posted by Bethany Whalley, Marketing Executive

For the first time in four hundred years, H. L. Meakin’s interdisciplinary book The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon Drury describes and explores Lady Anne’s fascinating miniature painted room in her Suffolk country house. Meakin received the Paul Mellon Centre Publication Grant and Author Grant for her examination of Lady Anne’s creation, an historically important but previously unstudied artefact that functioned in its day as part prayer-closet and part study. The author reads the painted panels in the context of early modern aesthetics and cultural production, as well as shedding light on the lady’s personal and social struggles and ambitions.

The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon DruryWith 64 colour and 31 b&w illustrations, The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon Drury tackles expressions of female subjectivity within a patriarchal society. Meakin argues that although Lady Anne was, significantly, Donne’s patron and niece of Sir Francis Bacon, she deserves to be remembered in her own right as an intellectual equal who provided us with a creation that allows a window into the mind and habits of an early modern Englishwoman in a world of men.

About the Author: H. L. Meakin received her doctorate from the University of Oxford and is the author of John Donne’s Articulations of the Feminine. She now teaches English Literature at the University of South Florida.

More information on the books in Ashgate’s visual studies list

Claire Davies on the AAH’s “Day in the Life of an Art Historian” interview project

This is a guest post from Claire Davies, Association of Art Historians

Day in the life of an Art Historian

The purpose of this online interview project is to promote the rich diversity of art historical practice today, as well as building greater awareness of the careers and prospects in art history in general. AAH members were invited to participate in an informal, e-interview and respond to 10 questions. Here are a few of their responses.

How do you describe your work to people who know nothing about art history?

“I say I am a contemporary art historian and laugh about how that sounds like a contradiction… I’m not teaching them how to make art, but rather developing their knowledge of art history and the ideas and texts around making contemporary art…” TW

“My job is to convince people that in our virtual age of sensory overload and instant gratification, it is still worthwhile to spend more than one minute in front of a work of art…” SH

“I’d say that art historians look into works of art, and by doing so they look at the history of both the artist who created them and their context. I’d say it deals with the study of an illustrated personal and social history.” AA

What is your sense of art history today? And what do you think the future of art history might be?

“…art history will either become a discipline dedicated to the critical evaluation of what has been produced and will be framed in the past tense (art’s history) or compromise its disciplinary norm and embrace the broader perspective of cultural studies.” RR

“Thriving as an academic subject and a topic students want to study. There is some wonderful research going on. In the past I think there was a divide between historical art history and contemporary art practice and writing but I see that changing.” TW

Which ONE art work/book/object would you take with you to a desert island?

“Damian Hirst’s Shark – you know, to act as a warning to the others.” JC

“… as long as I don’t have to pay for the insurance or worry about the conditions it’s kept in!… I would take Simon Starling’s Shed Boat Shed.” TW

Why do you think art history is important?

“There is a certain amount of detective work involved in art historical research… This requires asking different questions than a historian might ask, allowing us to think of images as sources that might contradict or reveal new ways of understanding the textual sources, and thus a society.” LRC

Read more e-interviews online. This is an ongoing project, so if you would like to be involved please get in touch with

CAA book launch reception and signing for Rachel Epp Buller’s Reconciling Art and Mothering

Reconciling Art and MotheringPosted by Luana Life, Marketing Co-ordinator

Please join author/editor Rachel Epp Buller and contributors to Reconciling Art and Mothering for a book launch reception and signing at the College Art Association conference in New York. The event will take place at the Ashgate booth (#430) in the exhibitors hall (Hilton conference site/1335 Avenue of the Americas) Friday, February 15, 4:30-6pm.

Reconciling Art and Mothering contributes a chorus of new voices to the growing body of scholarship on art and the maternal and, for the first time, focuses exclusively on maternal representations and experiences within visual art worldwide. This innovative collection joins the voices of practicing artists with those of art historians. Working against a hegemonic construction of motherhood, the contributors discuss diverse feminist mothering experiences around the globe, from maternal ambivalence to queer mothering to quests for self-fulfillment.

Learn more about Reconciling Art and Mothering

The twitter hashtag for the conference is #CAA2013

John Ott’s forthcoming book has received a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant from the College Art Association

John Ott’s forthcoming book Manufacturing the Modern Patron: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority in Victorian California was awarded a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant in the 2012 round of grant awards.

Since 2005, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art has supported the publication of books on American art through the Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant, administered by CAA.

Through the example of Central Pacific Railroad executives, Manufacturing the Modern Patron redirects attention from the usual art historical protagonists – artistic producers – and rewrites narratives of American art from the unfamiliar vantage of patrons and collectors.

The work demonstrates the benefits of taking art consumers seriously as active contributors to the cultural meanings of artwork.  It explores the critical role of art patronage in the articulation of a new and distinctly modern elite class identity for newly ascendant corporate executives and financiers.

These economic elites also sought to legitimate trends in industrial capitalism, such as mechanization, incorporation, and proletarianization, through their consumption of a diverse array of elite culture, including regional landscapes, panoramic and stop-motion photography, history paintings of the California Gold Rush, the architecture of Stanford University, and the design of domestic galleries.

Manufacturing the Modern Patron is currently scheduled for publication in January 2014

John Ott is Associate Professor of Art History at James Madison University.