William MB Berger Prize for British Art History 2020

2020 Berger Prize - watch the video below

The life and work of Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788) was explored during a free, online event celebrating  Thomas Gainsborough. The Portraits, Fancy Pictures and Copies after Old Masters by Hugh Belsey winning the 18th annual William MB Berger Prize for British Art History.

The event was broadcast live from Lowell Libson and Jonny Yarker Gallery in London. Hosted by Jonny Yarker, the event centred on an ‘in conversation’ between Professor Robin Simon, Editor of The British Art Journal, and Hugh Belsey.

Contributors included Mark Bills (Director of Gainsborough’s House) with an update on its ongoing transformation into a major regional centre.
There was an opportunity for viewers to ask questions.
The annual prize created to recognize excellence in the field of British art history was created in 2001 by the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET) and The British Art Journal, in honour of the late American collector and patron William MB Berger. Since its inception, the Berger Prize has come to be recognized as the most respected in the field.
Usually the winner is announced at an event in London during December, but the global pandemic means that is not possible in 2020, and so this year the Berger Prize has gone online.
Katherine MB Berger, daughter of William MB Berger and Trustee of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, said before the event,

Although it is disappointing we cannot hold a physical prizegiving this year, our online event means we can take a much deeper look at our winning title and share this experience with anyone globally. It’s an exciting chance to connect even more people with the Berger Prize and the work of Gainsborough.

2020 Winner

Hugh Belsey

Thomas Gainsborough. The Portraits, Fancy Pictures and Copies after Old Masters

Yale University Press for The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

ISBN 978-0-300232097 20 vols pp1112 hb
£150 bw & col 1300

 A magnificent book, a magnum opus. It brings to life so many female sitters, who have now been given their place in history for the first time. Magisterial

Short list

Louise Campbell 

Studio Lives: Architect, Art and Artist in 20th-Century Britain

Thought-provoking and elegantly written. Absorbing on such matters as the relationship between living and studio spaces. Ambitious and rewarding

Caroline Elam

Roger Fry and Italian Art

Ad Ilissum /The Burlington Magazine, distributed by Paul Holberton

A sumptuous book to look at and to read. The best kind of art history. So good on Fry’s influence upon art and taste in the UK, and all those fallings-out and fallings-in

Elizabeth Goldring

Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist

Yale University Press for The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Brilliant, showing that the life and art of an artist are inseparable. A mass of reading and research brings Hilliard to life. Outstanding in placing Hilliard in his international context

Carol Jacobi, ed

The EY exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain

Tate Publishing

Van Gogh comes alive in this book, and we hear his voice. Two parts, his early life in England, and then the impact of his art in Britain, and both convincing. So original in an area that one thought had been well trodden

Sarah Lodge

Inventing Edward Lear 

Harvard University Press

Intensely analytical, confirming that Lear was indeed a genius. Highly original, even including links to his music. A profoundly rewarding book to read, in prose worthy of its subject. Situates Lear so well in the context of his Pre-Raphaelite friends

Long List

Andrew Lambirth

Life of Bryan – A Celebration of Bryan Robertson

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1916495739 pp320 hb £30 col 100


Andrew Lambirth

John Nash: Artist & Countryman

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1916495702 pp256 hb £40 bw 100 col200


Ian Collins

Two Lives in Colour: Fred Dubery
and Joanne Brogden

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1911604730 pp160 hb £25 col 300


James Bartos

The Geometry of Beauty:
The Not Very British Art of Six British Artists

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1912690343 pp320 hb £30 col 96


Penny Hunting

My Dearest Heart:
The Artist Mary Beale 1633–1699

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1912690084 pp208 hb £25 col 120


Jim Davies

Illustrating Armageddon:
Fortunino Matania and the First World War

Uniform Press (an imprint of Unicorn)

ISBN 978-1912690015 pp416 hb £30 bw200 col 20


Rob Donovan

The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone:
Once a Burglar, Always an Artist

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1912690428 pp240 pb £20 col 64


Peter Humfrey

The Stafford Gallery: The Greatest Art Collection
of Regency London

Unicorn Press

ISBN 978-1916495753 pp342 hb £60 col 150



David Bindman, ed

Hogarth, Place and Progress

Soane Museum

ISBN 978-1999693213 pp144 pb £24.95
bw 68 col 121


Peter Wakelin

Refuge and Renewal:
Migration and British Art

Sansom & Co

ISBN 978-1911408543 pp112 pb £20 ill


Anne Anderson

Beyond the Brotherhood:
The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy

Sansom & Co

ISBN 978-1911408 550 pp 128 pb £17.50 ill


Paul Moorhouse

Bridget Riley A Very Very Person.
The Early Years


ISBN 978-1909932500 pp272 pb £20 bw19 col 11


Paul Moorhouse

John Virtue 


ISBN 978-1909932524 pp286 hb £38 bw 230


Suzanne Fagence Cooper and Richard Johns

Ruskin, Turner & The Storm Cloud

Paul Holberton

ISBN 978-1911300601 pp120 pb £20.00 col 50


Diane Bilbey

Britain Can Make It:
The 1946 Exhibition of Design

Paul Holberton

ISBN 978-1911300540 pp256 pb £20 col 230


Eric Akers-Douglas, ed Lawrence Hendra

Divine People: The Art and Life of Ambrose McEvoy 1877–1927

Paul Holberton

ISBN 978-1911300793 pp288 hb £35 col 100


Anthony Spira, Martin Postle and Paul Bonaventura

George Stubbs: ‘All done from Nature’

Paul Holberton

ISBN 978-1911300687 pp224 pb £35 col 150


Caroline Elam

Roger Fry and Italian Art

Ad Ilissum/The Burlington Magazine (distributed by Paul Holberton)

ISBN 978-1912168088 pp452 hb £100 250 ill


Arthur MacGregor

Company Curiosities Nature,
Culture and the East India Company, 1600–1874

Reaktion Books

ISBN 978-1789140033 pp400 hb £40 bw 61 col 116


Kate Retford and Susanna Avery-Quash, eds

The Georgian London Town House.
Building, Collecting and Display

Bloomsbury Visual Arts

ISBN 978-1501337291 pp364 hb £90 bw 60 col 32

ISBN 978-1501337307 EPUB/MORI £97.20

ISBN 978-1501337314 pdf eBook £97.20


Maria Quirk

Women, Art and Money in Late Victorian and Edwardian England, 1880–191: The Hustle and the Scramble

Bloomsbury Visual Arts

ISBN 978-1501343056 pp248 hb £85 tables 5

ISBN 978-1501343063 EPUB/MORI £91.80

ISBN 978-1501343070 pdf eBook £91.80


Rosika Desnoyers

Pictorial Embroidery in England

Bloomsbury Visual Arts

ISBN 978-1350071759 pp184 hb £85 bw 41 col 19

ISBN 978-1350071773 EPUB/MOBI eBook £91.80

ISBN 978-1350071766 pdf £91.80


William Dalrymple

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company

Philip Wilson Publishers (imprint of Bloomsbury)

ISBN 978-1781301012 pp192 hb £35


Tobias Capwell and Hannah Higham

Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads

Philip Wilson Publishers (imprint of Bloomsbury)

ISBN 978-1781300770 pp160 pb £25 col 110 (ebook available)


William Feaver

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922–1968

Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN 978-1408850930 pp704 hb £35 bw 48 col 28

ISBN 978-1408850947 EPUB/MOBI eBook £29.40


Louise Campbell

Studio Lives. Architect, Art and Artist in 20th-Century Britain

Lund Humphries 

ISBN 978-1848223134 pp288 hb £35 bw 70 col 40


Monica Bohm-Duchen

Insiders Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe
and their Contribution to British Visual Culture

Lund Humphries

ISBN 978-1848223462 pp256 hb £40 col 144



Alicia Foster

Radical Women: Jessica Dismorr and her Contemporaries

Lund Humphries

ISBN 978-1848223707 pp128 hb £35 bw 7 col 64


Valeria Carullo

Moholy-Nagy in Britain: 1935–1937

Lund Humphries

ISBN 978-1848223769 pp96 pb £29.95 col 80


Eleanor Clayton and Helen Little

Alan Davie and David Hockney: Early Works

Lund Humphries

ISBN 978-1848223752 pp112 pb £24.99 bw 15 col 60


Philip Modiano

Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire

RPS Publications

ISBN 978-1916493100 pp180 pb £14 bw14 col 173 col maps 57


Francis Hutton-Williams

Thomas MacGreevy and the Rise of the Irish Avant-Garde

Cork University Press

ISBN 978-1782053569 pp160 hb €39 ill


Catharine MacLeod

Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver

National Portrait Gallery, London

ISBN 978-1855147324 pp25 hb £14.95 col 140


Jan Marsh et al.

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters

National Portrait Gallery, London

ISBN 978-1855147270 pp224 hb £35 col 160


Museum of Art Lucerne, ed

Contributions by D Blayney Brown, L Breitschmid,
F Fetzer, C Nooteboom, E Suter, B Wisner

Turner: The Sea and the Alps

Hirmer Verlag

ISBN 978-3777432663 pp180 hb £32 col 100


Giovanni Aloi

Lucian Freud Herbarium

Prestel Publishing

ISBN 978-3791385334 pp176 hb £39.99 col 119


Elain Harwood

Art Deco Britain: Buildings of the Interwar Years

Batsford (imprint of Pavilion Books)

ISBN 978-1849945271 pp272 hb £25 col 119


Twentieth Century Society

100 Churches 100 Years

Batsford (imprint of Pavilion Books)

ISBN 978-1849945141 pp208 hb £25 col 230


Colin Thom

Robert Adam and his Brothers.
New light on Britain’s leading architectural family

Liverpool University Press

ISBN 978-1848023598 pp280 hb £65 bw 79 col 153


Adrian Eeles, ed

Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered 

The Rothschild Foundation, Waddesdon,
in association with Paul Holberton

ISBN 978-1911300571 pp159 hb £35 bw 24 col 172

ISBN 978-1911300748 pb £25


Andrew Dempsey, Lulu Norman and Jackie Wullschlager

Leon Kossoff. A London Life

Piano Nobile Publications

ISBN 978-1901192537 pp144 hb £45 bw 4 col 71


Carol Jacobi

The EY exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain

Tate Publishing

ISBN 978-1849766029 pp240 pb £25 col 227


Dennis T Lanigan and Ronald Lessens

Henry Wallis (1830–1916).
rom Pre-Raphaelite Painter to Collector/Connoisseur 

ACC Art Books

ISBN 978-1788840279 pp320 hb £45 bw 119 col 164


Martin Harrison, ed

Bacon and the Mind: Art, Neuroscience and Psychology
(Francis Bacon Studies)

The estate of Francis Bacon Publishing in association with Thames & Hudson

ISBN 978-0500970973 pp156 pb £28 ill


David Dawson, Joseph Leo Koerner, Jasper Sharp
and Sebastian Smee

Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits

Royal Academy of Arts

ISBN 978-1912520060 pp152 hb £35 ill


Roy Strong

The Elizabethan Image

Yale University Press

ISBN 978-0300244298 pp224 hb £35 col 230


Annette Carruthers, Mary Greensted and Barley Roscoe

Ernest Gimson Arts & Crafts Designer and Architect

Yale University Press

ISBN 978-0300246261 pp372 hb £50 ill 320


Clarissa Campbell Orr

Mrs Delany: A Life

Yale University Press

ISBN 978-0300161137 pp448 hb £30 illl 50



Richard Cork

Young Bomberg and the Old Masters

National Gallery London / Yale University Press

ISBN 978-1857096477 pp64 pb £16.95 col 65


Elizabeth Goldring

Nicholas Hilliard. Life of an Artist

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

ISBN 978-0300241426 pp352 hb £40 col 250


Sarah Thomas

Witnessing Slavery – Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

ISBN 978-1913107055 pp304 hb £45 col 168


David Cannadine

Westminster Abbey. A Church in History

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
in association with Westminster Abbey

ISBN 978-1913107024 pp456 hb £35 bw 100 col 100


Hugh Belsey

Thomas Gainsborough.
The Portraits, Fancy Pictures and Copies after Old Masters

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

ISBN 978-0-300232097 20 vols pp1112 hb £150 bw & col 1300


Sarah Lodge

Inventing Edward Lear

Harvard University Press

ISBN 978-0674971158 pp448 hb £23.95 bw 81 col 17


Matthew C Potter

British Art for Australia, 1860–1953:
The Acquisition of Artworks from the United Kingdom
by Australian National Galleries

Routledge / Taylor & Francis

ISBN 978-1472426369 pp262 hb £96 bw 38 col 12

ISBN 978-0429423666 eBook £44.99


Katherine Field (cat and essay),
essays by Gábor Bellák and Beáta Somfalvi

Philip de László: ‘I am an Artist of the World’

De László Archive Trust

The de Laszlo Archive Trust

ISBN 978-1-5272-4619-5 pb £15 (office@delaszlo.com)
pp90 bw 74 col 60


Douglas Fordham

Travel, Print, and Empire, 1770–1820

Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

ISBN 9781913107048 pp328 hb £45 bw col251

William Merriam Bart Berger (1925-1999) was born in Denver, a fourth-generation Coloradan. Following family tradition, he built a career in finance, for which he was nationally recognized. Bernadette Joan Johnson Berger (1940-2015), also a Denver native, grew up in western Colorado and owned farms in Kansas She raised three daughters and worked as a securities trader and stockbroker.

The Berger Collection is currently on view at the Denver Art Museum. Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection showcases more than 60 paintings gifted to the museum by the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET).


In 2001, the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET) and The British Art Journal established a prize for excellence in the field of British art history, in honor of the late William M. B. Berger. The prize was created to recognize that some of the very finest work in art history is being carried out in the field of British art, and that much of it is being published by The British Art Journal. Since its inception, the Berger Prize has come to be recognized as the most prestigious in the field.


The William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History awards £5,000 annually, chosen by The British Art Journal in association with the BCET of Denver, Colorado.


The Berger Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding book, exhibition, or exhibition catalog (in any language) on the subject of British art history appearing during the preceding calendar year (January–December).


A panel of no fewer than five and no more than seven assessors selects the recipient. The assessors committee includes the editor of The British Art Journal.


Institutions and publishers are welcome to nominate individuals they believe will fulfill the criteria set for the prize. Other nominations should be supported by the names of two individual scholars of good standing, together with their contact information.

Nominations should be made to:

The Secretary
William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History


Upon the assessors’ acceptance of a nomination, copies of the work must be submitted for further consideration.