The 2012 Roland Bainton Award in Art and Music History recognizes Sarah Blake McHam’s Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance: The Legacy of the Natural History, which was published by Yale University Press. This book deals with a critically important topic, the impact of Books 33-37 of the Natural History on Renaissance artists, art collectors, and art theorists. Blake McHam’s study ranges from Petrarch to the end of the Renaissance, demostrating not only a broad range but also a great depth of knowledge. The appendices and extensive footnotes will be welcomed by senior scholars and beginning students alike. The author considers well-known works of art, indeed major examples that define the Renaissance, as well as non-canonical illuminated manuscripts, book illustrations, and decorative arts. Blake McHam also balances her account by including the work of women artists. Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance not only provides a thorough and comprehensive study of Pliny and his reception in the Renaissance, but is also written in an erudite yet accessible manner. Beautifully produced, this book is a monumental achievement.
This award was announced at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference's general business meeting on Friday Oct 17, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The prize includes an award of $500.
Sarah Blake McHam's Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance previously had been named a Times Literary Supplement 2013 Book of the Year.