Marisa Bass wins book prize

November 5, 2020

Marisa Bass has won the 2020 Roland H. Bainton Book Prizes for the best book in Art and Music History from the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference for her most recent monograph Insect Artifice: Nature and Art in the Dutch Revolt (Princeton University Press, 2019). Four prizes are awarded yearly by the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference for the best books written in English dealing with four categories within the time frame of 1450–1660: Art and Music History, History and Theology, Literature, and Reference Works. The criteria for selection are (1) quality and originality of research; (2) methodological skill and/or innovation; (3) development of fresh and stimulating interpretations or insights; (4) literary quality.

The prize committee commented on the book as follows:

”Bass’s beautifully written text provides a detailed analysis of the Four Elements manuscripts, created by Joris Hoefnagel over the last three decades of his life.  This sumptuously detailed study of microscopic material nuances our understanding not only of the context of Hoefnagel’s project but also the cultural milieu of a war-torn Netherlands in the late-sixteenth century. The reproduction of 39 scaled openings in the plates section, with multiple selections from each of the four elements, allows the reader to simulate flipping through the manuscripts and marvel over the wondrous creatures and landscapes contained therein. The committee commends the author for their carefully researched, nuanced argument and careful consideration of a wide variety of media (including cartography, emblem books, album amicorum, prints, and tapestries) that provides careful insights into both detailed aspects of individual compositions and also the larger conceptual threads that connect Hoefnagel to a pan-European network of artistic production. The result is a strikingly expansive view of this microcosm that transcends the traditional boundaries of art history, the history of science, and the history of scientific illustration.”