Colleen Terry, a recent doctoral
graduate of the University of Delaware’s College of Arts and Sciences,
is the recipient of the 2015 Wilbur Owen Sypherd Prize in the
The University award was presented during the doctoral hooding ceremony held May 29 on The Green.
Terry, who received her doctorate in art history, serves as assistant
curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts
Museums of San Francisco.
The recipient of a bachelor’s degree in the history of art from Yale
University, Terry also holds a master’s degree in the history of design
from the Royal College of Art in London, England.
Terry’s award-winning dissertation, “Presence in Print: William
Hogarth in British North America,” explores the impact of the famed
British artist on the public imagination of British North America during
the Colonial and Early Republic eras.
Hogarth is best known for his series paintings of modern moral
subjects, including “The Rake’s Progress,” a series of eight paintings
produced in 1732-33 and currently in the collection of Sir John Soane’s
Museum in London.
“Famed British artist William Hogarth (1697-1764) was literally and
rhetorically present in print in British North America for much of the
18th century, without his ever setting foot on its shores,” Terry said.
“While this fact was well known before I undertook my research, I used
18th century newspaper articles and advertisements, as well as probate
inventories, diaries and letters to discover the significance of this
Terry’s thesis includes chapters devoted to the marketing,
consumption and narration of Hogarth’s prints in British America, from
his 1739 appearance in the popular press to the Early Republic period,
revealing the degree to which the artist’s prints and aesthetic treatise
took hold of the British-American imagination.
The works conditioned a public to art laced with contemporary social concerns as well as humor, Terry said.
“My dissertation offers an expanded explanation of the market for art
in British North America during the 18th century,” Terry said. “Since
my study addressed a period marked by significant ideological conflict
and revolution, yet identifies the persistent presence of the
quintessentially British artist within the visual, material and
intellectual fabric of the day, the dissertation also reevaluates the
consumer behavior of the period.”
Terry noted that her background in British decorative arts and UD’s
distinguished record of training historians of American art made the
University an ideal place to pursue her doctoral degree.
“When I chose UD, I had already determined that I wanted to be a
museum curator,” Terry said. “The University has a very strong track
record on training curators in all fields thanks in large part to the
emphasis that many of the art history professors place on object-based
Doctoral thesis adviser Bernard L. Herman, former Edward F. and
Elizabeth Goodman Professor of Art History, said he was fortunate to
have the opportunity to serve as Terry’s doctoral adviser.
“Colleen researched and wrote a masterful dissertation, and winning
the Sypherd Prize speaks to the broader contribution and value of her
work in the humanities,” Herman said. “She earned that recognition
through a highly competitive process and I am absolutely delighted for
Herman, chair and George B. Tindall Professor of American Studies at
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said Terry’s work
represents the best of UD’s long and distinguished accomplishments in
the histories of art and culture.
“Presence in Print: William Hogarth in British North America” also is
the first scholarly exploration of the reception and circulation of the
British artist’s work in the American colonies and early republic,
“Given Hogarth’s Atlantic world influence, his preeminent place in
the canon of British art and the fact that his engravings existed in
multiples, his impact on emergent American cultures of sociability and
discernment was significant and far reaching,” Herman said. “Terry is
the first writer to chart and document that impact and what it meant in
the context of 18th century Atlantic world cultures.”
Terry described Herman as a wonderful mentor who gave her the space
needed to work through her own ideas and helped with those questions
lurking just beneath the surface.
She also thanked thesis second reader Wendy Bellion, associate
professor of art history, for numerous invaluable suggestions, as well
as H. Perry Chapman, interim chair and professor of art history, and
Matthew Kinservik, vice provost for faculty affairs, for giving
generously of their time while serving as members of her dissertation
“Bernie’s advice to start with the thing you understand the least
continues to drive my scholarship,” Terry said. “It is certainly an
honor to receive the award and it gives me renewed enthusiasm to return
to the project with an eye towards publishing.”