Grant to enhance art history book

A prestigious Millard Meiss Publication Fund award will allow a new book by Kelly Presutti, assistant professor of history of art and visual studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, to be published at the highest quality possible.
Her book, “Land into Landscape: Art, Environment, and the Making of Modern France,” is forthcoming from Yale University Press in fall 2024; the grant, given by the College Art Association, subsidizes publication of books in art history ‘in the most desirable form.’”
“Art history is an inherently visual field,” Presutti said. “Much of what we do is to try to bring people into a deeper understanding of a work of art. Having the artwork reproduced on the page allows that process of understanding to unfold in real time.”
Reproducing artworks requires getting permission from their owners, and rights and reproduction fees are often charged. The grant enables Presutti to include over 100 images to tell the story of four landscape types – forests, mountains, wetlands and coasts – as sites of negotiation and contestation between state power, local inhabitants and the environment in 19th century France.

sepia-toned photograph showing mountains and a small house
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles Joseph de Vigier, View Looking Out over a Valley, c. 1853. Salted paper print, 10 7/16 × 14 5/8 in. (26.5 × 37.1 cm)

“It’s a thrill to get to see them all together, and to watch the argument of the book play out visually in the page layouts,” Presutti said. “Being able to directly compare, for example, the distinct ways mountains were rendered in Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s drawing versus Joseph de Vigier’s photograph helps us to understand how specific media were coming to terms with these massive geologic features.”

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Painting of mountains
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase, Isaacson-Draper Foundation Gift, 2005 Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, Mont Blanc Seen from the Massif, Les Aiguilles Rouges, 1874. Watercolor heightened with gouache over traces of graphite on two sheets of blue-gray wove paper (glued together in a vertical seam at left), 11 7/16 × 26 1/8 in. (29 × 66.4 cm).