UD art historian Wendy Bellion has received the 2014 Eldredge Prize for her groundbreaking book, "Citizen Spectator."

Eldredge Prize

UD's Bellion awarded national prize for 2011 art history book 'Citizen Spectator'

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2:04 p.m., April 30, 2014--Wendy Bellion, associate professor of art history at the University of Delaware, has been awarded the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2014 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art for her book Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America.

The book, published in 2011 by the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, is described by the museum as a “groundbreaking study.” It focuses on the Peale family of artists and their Philadelphia Museum and explores the production and reception of a range of pictorial and optical illusions encountered in public spaces.

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The three-person jury that selected Bellion for the award called Citizen Spectator “an engrossing study, both for what it tells us about the history of American picturing and for its capacity to fascinate and delight its readers, who plunge along with Bellion into an image-obsessed world uncannily similar to our own.”

Jurors also praised the book as “truly interdisciplinary,” noting that Bellion drew from fields including history, art history, the history of science, media studies, philosophy, popular taste and political science in her writing. Citizen Spectator “serves as a model of writing about American art and visual culture,” the jurors said.

Bellion has been awarded grants and fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, among others. 

In 2015 she will be the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris.

Her new book project, titled What Statues Remember: Art and Iconoclasm in New York City, explores the presence, destruction and historical memory of political monuments in lower Manhattan from the late 18th century to the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

Bellion will deliver the annual Eldredge Prize lecture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum this fall. The prize, initiated in 1989, recognizes originality and thoroughness of research, excellence of writing and clarity of method.

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