DAS awards — an important resource for scholars in the decorative arts

The DAS has made selections for the 2016 Charles F. Montgomery Prize and Robert C. Smith Award.

The DAS chose Early Seating Upholstery: Reading the Evidence by Leroy Graves (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2015) as the 2016 recipient of its Charles F. Montgomery Prize for the most distinguished contribution to the study of American decorative arts published in the English language by a North American scholar in the previous year. Graves joined the facilities maintenance staff of Colonial Williamsburg (VA) in 1967 and was soon recruited to be an art handler in the Department of Collections, a position he held for nearly 10 years. He joined the Conservation Department at its inception in 1984. His minimally intrusive upholstery techniques have been copied and adapted by colleagues at institutions across the country.

The DAS has taken the unusual step of presenting its 2016 Robert Smith Award for the best article about the decorative arts published in English in 2015 to two recipients, due to the unexpected number of worthy publications: Lisa Minardi for “Sulfur Inlay in Pennsylvania German Furniture: New Discoveries” in American Furniture (2015) and Andrea Pappas for her article “‘Each Wise Nymph that Angles for a Heart’ in the Politics of Courtship in the Boston ‘Fishing Lady’ Pictures” in Winterthur Portfolio (Vol. 49, No. 1/Spring 2015, pp. 1–28). Minardi is an assistant curator at Winterthur and a specialist in Pennsylvania German art and culture; Pappas is an associate professor in the art and art history faculty of Santa Clara University (CA) and was previously a lecturer/adjunct professor at the Otis College of Art and Design and a visiting lecturer at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California (USC).

Full details of this year's awards are in the Fall 2016 issue of the DAS Newsletter, a benefit of contributing to the DAS.

• The DAS presents the Charles F. Montgomery Award to the scholar(s) whose first major publication in the field of the American decorative arts is judged the most outstanding such work published in the previous year. The Montgomery Award was established at the 1979 DAS annual meeting and first awarded in 1980 for a publication appearing in 1979.

According to the DAS newsletter at the time: “Early in his career, Charles F. Montgomery recognized the importance of studying American artifacts to understand better our national heritage. With this vision, he dedicated his career to building the institutions and programs for research and interpretation of American decorative arts, and he fostered the training of teachers and curators in the field. Thus, it was appropriate to designate this award for an author’s first major contribution to scholarship in American decorative arts.”

• The Charles F. Montgomery Prize came later and was first awarded for works published in 1982. It is given to the most distinguished contribution to the study of American decorative arts published in the English language by a North American scholar in the previous year.

Montgomery (1910–1978) was an inspirational teacher, creative curator and innovative teacher. A 1932 graduate of Harvard College, he served on the staff of the Winterthur Museum during the 1950s and 1960s, and director from 1954–1961. From 1970–1978, he was curator of the Garvan and Related Collections of American Art at the Yale University Art Gallery and professor of the history of art at Yale University. His publications include American Furniture: The Federal Period (1966), A History of American Pewter (1973), and contributions to American Art, 1750–1800: Towards Independence (1976).

• The Robert C. Smith Award recognizes the best article on decorative arts published in a given year. This award was established in March 1978 and first presented in 1979. It is named for the influential art historian Robert C. Smith (1912–1975), who taught at the University of Pennsylvania and specialized in the art and architecture of Portugal, Spain, South America and the United States. 
Smith was known for his abiding interest in students in the field, unfailing generosity in sharing information and ability to shed light on previously overlooked areas of research. He published scores of articles on furniture and the decorative arts, and had a long teaching relationship with the Winterthur Museum. His books include Samuel Tibau and Portuguese Inlaid Furniture of the Seventeenth Century (1962) and The Art of Portugal, 1500–1800 (1968).

2015 Robert Smith Award – click here

2015 Montgomery Prize and Award – click here

Service to the Profession Award – click here

Current committee chairs:

Montgomery Award/Prize
Wendy A. Cooper, curator emerita of furniture
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library (DE)
Smith Award
Jeannine Falino, independent curator, museum consultant
Independent curator
New York, NY

For submission information, see the DAS Newsletter.