Charles C. Eldredge Prize

A woman in a red dress lectures on Visual Illusion and the Early American Theater

The Charles C. Eldredge Prize is awarded annually by the Smithsonian American Art Museum for outstanding scholarship in the field of American art

A cash award of $3,000 is made to the author of a recent book-length publication that provides new insight into works of art, the artists who made them, or aspects of history and theory that enrich our understanding of U.S.-American artistic heritage.

The Eldredge Prize seeks to recognize originality and thoroughness of research, excellence of writing, clarity of method, and significance for professional or public audiences. It is especially meant to honor those authors who deepen or focus debates in the field, or who broaden the discipline by reaching beyond traditional boundaries.

Funding for the Eldredge Prize is provided by the American Art Forum, a patrons’ support organization of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The prize was instituted to honor Charles C. Eldredge, who founded the American Art Forum in 1986 during his tenure as director of the museum.

All Eldredge Prize Recipients, 1987—Present

2023: Caitlin Meehye Beach | View press release | Watch the Webcast 
Sculpture at the Ends of Slavery.. Oakland: University of California Press, 2022.

2022: Vivien Green Fryd | View press release | Watch the Webcast
Against Our Will: Sexual Trauma in American Art Since 1970. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2019.

2021: Cherise Smith | View press release | Watch the Webcast
Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2020.

2020: Linda Kim | View press release | Watch the Webcast
Race Experts: Sculpture, Anthropology, and the American Public in Malvina Hoffman’s Races of Mankind.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018.

2019: Nizan Shaked | View press release | Watch the Webcast
The Synthetic Proposition: Conceptualism and the Political Referent in Contemporary Art. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2017.

2018: Susan Rather | View press release | Watch the Webcast
The American School: Artists and Status in the Late Colonial and Early National Era. New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016.

2017: Jennifer L. Roberts | View press release | Watch the Webcast
Transporting Visions: The Movement of Images in Early America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.

2016: Michael Lobel | View press release | Watch the Webcast
John Sloan: Drawing on Illustration. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.

2015: Amy Lyford | Watch the Webcast
Isamu Noguchi’s Modernism: Negotiating Race, Labor, and Nation, 1930–1950. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

2014: Wendy Bellion | Watch the Webcast
Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2011.

2013: Leo Mazow | Watch the Webcast
Thomas Hart Benton and the American Sound. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012.

2012: Maurie D. McInnis | Watch the Webcast
Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

2011: Kristina Wilson | Watch the Webcast
The Modern Eye: Stieglitz, MoMA, and the Art of Exhibition, 1925–1934. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

2010: Kirk Savage
Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape.Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

2009: Cécile Whiting
Pop L.A.: Art and the City in the 1960s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

2008: J. M. Mancini
Pre-Modernism: Art-World Change and American Culture from the Civil War to the Amory Show. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

2007: Rebecca Zurier
Picturing the City: Urban Vision and the Ashcan School. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

2006: Margaretta M. Lovell
Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans, and Patrons in Early America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

2005: Elizabeth Johns
Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

2004: David M. Lubin
Shooting Kennedy: JFK and the Culture of Images. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

2003: Richard Meyer
Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

2002: Anthony W. Lee
Picturing Chinatown: Art and Orientalism in San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

2001: Jodi Hauptman
Joseph Cornell: Stargazing in the Cinema. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

2000: Wanda M. Corn
The Great American Thing: Modern Art and National Identity, 1915-1935. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

1999: Caroline A. Jones
Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

1998: Sarah Burns
Inventing the Modern Artist: Art and Culture in Gilded Age America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

1997:Sue Rainey
Creating Picturesque America: Monument to the Natural and Cultural Landscape. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1994.

1996: Michael Leja 
Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

1995: Angela L. Miller 
The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825–1875. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.

1994: Sally M. Promey 
Spiritual Spectacles: Vision and Image in Mid-Nineteenth Century Shakerism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

1993: Erika Doss 
Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

1992: Richard P. Wunder 
Hiram Powers: Vermont Sculptor, 1805–1873. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1989.

1991: Michele Bogart 
Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890–1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

1990: (2 winners)
Michael Fried 
Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Alan Trachtenberg 
Reading American Photographs: Images As History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans. New York: Hill and Wang, 1989.

1989: Edward J. Nygren 
Views and Visions: American Landscape Before 1830. Washington, D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1986.

Eligibility Criteria

Single-author, book-length publications—including monographs, exhibition catalogues, catalogues raisonnés, and collected essays—in the field of U.S.-American art history published in the three previous calendar years are eligible.

Publications devoted to all aspects of the visual arts collected or exhibited by the Smithsonian American Art Museum may be nominated. This includes the fields of painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography and the moving image, decorative arts, craft, and folk art. Books focusing on methodology, criticism, patronage, iconography, and social history may also be nominated. Studies of architecture will not be considered. No work written by an employee of the Smithsonian American Art Museum or produced by its publications office is eligible.

Award Process

Books are judged by three scholars of U.S.-American art, appointed by the director of the museum. No member of its staff, governing board, advisory commission, or support organizations may serve as a juror. The jury reviews nominated books for originality and excellence of research, writing, and methodology, and considers their significance to the field. The jury’s selection is announced in the summer.

Guidelines for Nomination

Deadline: January 15th

To nominate a book, send a one-page letter that explains the work’s importance to the field of U.S.-American art history and discusses the quality of the author’s scholarship and methodology. Publications may be nominated by more than one person, and once nominated, will be considered in subsequent prize cycles until the end of the book’s eligibility period, which is three-years from publication. Nominations by authors or publishers for their own books will not be considered, although authors may solicit nominations for their own books. Send letters of nomination to: