Rich receives Kress History of Art grant to support collaborative research on the colorant trade

Sarah K. Rich, associate professor of art history, and the Center for Virtual/Material Studies (CVMS) at Penn State have been awarded a Kress History of Art Grant in the amount of $20,000 to facilitate research into the transatlantic trade in pigments from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century. The grant, generously supplemented by funding from the Penn State University Libraries, will support a collaborative research project titled “The Political Economy of Colorants in the Atlantic World, 1750-1850,” which seeks to uncover the economic and political contexts of the colorant trade in the Americas, Europe and Africa, highlighting the relationships among artists and different trades while also situating colorants in the context of indigenous-settler relationships and the slave trade.

The project will convene a group of diverse scholars from several universities to study relevant materials and sources. A centerpiece of the convenings will be a growing dataset with which the CVMS has been documenting advertisements for pigment sales in newspapers from colonial North America and the early republic, which will become a rich source of primary material for scholars. In addition to this digital resource, the research will also result in multiple workshops and publications that will bridge art history and conservation science in impactful ways.

This grant will allow the CVMS to further its focus on art historical research through the integration of materials analysis, digital technologies and humanistic inquiry.

“We are grateful to the Kress Foundation for this opportunity to explore the socio-economic implications of the pigment trade between Europe and colonial North America,” said Rich. “We are lining up an exciting group of scholars to join us in this venture, and we are eager to share our work with them.”

For more information on the Kress History of Art Grants program, visit its website.