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NMWA Awards $50,000 Mellor Prize

Jun 06 2014

NMWA Awards $50,000 Mellor Prize to Carole Blumenfeld for Groundbreaking Research on Women Artists

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) announces the 2013 award of the Suzanne and James Mellor prize for distinguished scholarship on women artists. In its fifth year, the Mellor Prize is given annually to the best proposal that disseminates the highest quality of groundbreaking research on women artists from any time period and country of origin. The winner of the $50,000 grant is Carole Blumenfeld, Ph.D., for her proposed monograph on the 18th- and 19th-century French painter Marguerite Gérard.

Blumenfeld is a research fellow at the Palais Fesch-Musée des Beaux-arts d'Ajaccio. Her book Une facétie de Fragonard: Les révélations d'un dessin retrouvé about artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Gérard’s brother-in-law, is widely known and respected among experts in the field. She received a master’s degree at the École Pratique des Hautes Études before completing her doctorate in 2011 at the Université de Lille. Blumenfeld’s thesis and dissertation both focused on Marguerite Gérard and the evolution of genre painting during this time period. She has served in a curatorial capacity for exhibitions, including Marguerite Gérard artiste en 1789 at the Musée Cognacq-Jay (2009) and Petits théâtres de l'intime. La peinture de genre entre Révolution et Restauration at the Musée des Augustins (2011–12). Blumenfeld has held several distinguished fellowships, including appointments at the Frick Collection Center for the History of Collecting in New York and the French Academy (Villa Medici) in Rome.

Very little has been written about women artists in this period of French art. Blumenfeld’s book on Gérard will be the first scholarly monograph of this prominent female artist. Gérard exhibited regularly once the Salons were opened to women in the 1790s and won three medals for her work. Her pictures were acquired by luminaries such as Napoleon and King Louis XVIII, and she acquired considerable wealth and real estate during her lifetime. Among many contributions of this scholarship, the selection committee notes that Blumenfeld “successfully moves Gérard beyond the ‘victim narrative’ still so prevalent in studies on women artists to provide an alternative narrative focusing on studio practice, contributions to genre painting and the ways in which a woman negotiated artistic professional identity in a successful 50-year career that spanned turbulent political and social history.” Blumenfeld’s research also encompasses an analysis of art market operations outside the academy and a well-conceptualized analysis of collaboration within Fragonard’s atelier, which should make a disciplinary contribution beyond the author’s sub-field. 

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