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Art historian receives Smithsonian American Art Museum award

– Margaretta M. Lovell, a professor of American art and architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, is the recipient of a Smithsonian American Art Museum award that recognizes outstanding scholarship in American art.

A three-member committee of American art scholars recently recommended Lovell for the 18th annual Charles C. Eldredge Prize for distinguished scholarship in American art for her book, "Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans and Patrons in Early America."

The Eldredge Prize awards $2,000 to the author of a recent book-length publication that provides new insight into works of art, an artist, or aspects of theory and history that add to the understanding of America's artistic heritage. The prize was established in 1989 in honor of Charles C. Eldredge, who founded the American Art Forum in 1986, while he was director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Lovell will present the annual Eldredge Prize lecture on April 7, 2007, at the museum's new Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium.

"I am delighted that the jurors have chosen to honor Margaretta Lovell, whose book is an invaluable resource to anyone studying early American art and life," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's director.

Lovell's book, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2005, offers a series of case studies organized around Atlantic coast maritime settlements and particular works of art and groups of Colonial creators, such as the Newport, R.I., Goddard-Townsend workshop that produced exceptional 18th-century furniture.

"These case studies are fascinating to read, in part because of Lovell's precise descriptions of the production processes, incorporating a broad range of media from portraiture and architectural drawings to cabinet making and textile manufacture," the prize selection committee said in its recommendation letter.

In a letter recommending Lovell, the committee described her book as "meticulously researched and closely argued," and said that Lovell "presents her evidence with wit and subtlety."

Other books written by Lovell include "A Visitable Past: Views of Venice by American Artists 1860-1915," which earned her a 1981 Henry Gabriel Prize from the American Studies Association.

She is a contributing author for a forthcoming survey textbook of American art history, "American Encounters," and is working on two additional books, "Interrogating a Continent: American Landscape Painting" and "Journey to the Ruins of Aztalan: In Search of the Scenic and Prehistoric in the Early 19th-century America."

Lovell has arranged major international exhibitions on American and British art at such institutions as the Huntington Library, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and Tokyo's National Museum of Western Art.

Lovell has been awarded grants, fellowships and residencies from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of California, the American Philosophical Society, and others.

She received her Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University. She teaches topics including California architecture, food in American culture, folk art in America, and the well-known American artists John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler and Mary Cassatt.