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Johnson wins Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize

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Eight satyrs admire the anamorphosis of an elephant.

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Hans Troschel after Simon Vouet, Eight Satyrs Admiring the Anamorphosis of an Elephant, 1624-27. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Updated on Nov. 16, 2021

Doctoral candidate Gabriella Johnson has been awarded the 2020 Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize for her paper entitled "The Elephant in the Room: Simon Vouet's Catoptric Elephant, Originality, and the Magic of Optics." Her essay dives into the world of 17th-century anamorphic images, optical science and elephant iconography to uncover the meaning and function of Vouet's allegorical print of an anamorphic elephant.

Established in 2010 in honor of legendary scholar and collector Sir Denis Mahon (1910-2011), this highly competitive international prize is awarded annually to an essay of distinction that reflects the British art historians studies and interests. The latter range from Guercino, Annibale Carracci, Caravaggio and Poussin to key modern and contemporary artists such as Ben Nicholson and David Hockney.

In many ways Johnson's award-winning research on Vouet and baroque anamorphic art, which began life as a report in one of Professor David M. Stone's graduate seminars, prepared the way for the development of her interdisciplinary dissertation, "Galatea's Realm: the Art of Coral, Shells, and Marine Fossils in Sicily, Naples, and the Maltese Islands."

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Gabriella Johnson speaks behind a podium.

Photo courtesy of the Sir Denis Mahon Foundation and Clement Lauchard Photography.

The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation invited Johnson to attend the 2021 award ceremony since the previous event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson was able to safetly travel to England in November. On Nov. 8, 2021, she delivered her award-winning paper at The Charterhouse in London.

Visit the Sir Denis Mahon Foundation website for more information on the Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize.

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News Story Supporting Images and Text
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Doctoral candidate Gabriella Johnson traveled to London this month to receive the 2020 Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize and present her award-winning paper on catoptric anamorphosi.
11/16/2021
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University of Delaware, art history, graduate student, Gabriella Johnson, Sir Denis Mahon Essay Prize, faculty, David Stone, Sir Denis Mahon, Simon Vouet, baroque, art