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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 16, 2004

UI Art Faculty John Beldon Scott Receives Book Award

John Beldon Scott, professor of art history at the University of Iowa, has received the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from the College Art Association for his book "Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin" published by the University of Chicago Press.

The Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, named in honor of one of the founding members of College Art Association and first teachers of art history in the United States, was established in 1953. It is presented annually for an especially distinguished book in the history of art and is considered one of the most significant book awards in the field of art history.

Scott's book is an extensive study of the late 17th-century chapel designed by Guarino Guarini and built to house the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to have been the burial cloth of Jesus. The chapel, one of the most radical works of European Baroque architecture, was gutted by fire in 1997 just as Scott was finishing research on the book. Released in June, 2003, the 496-page book is thoroughly researched and lavishly illustrated with 16 color plates and 184 half-tone photographs.

Scott wrote, "I was first attracted to this building and in particular its enigmatic dome simply because of its originality. I sought to know what it meant or at least how it came into being."

Scott soon discovered that he could not understand the chapel without studying the history of the Shroud itself, the only relic in Europe that still today commands international attention. Without getting into the debate over the antiquity of the Shroud, Scott studied the beliefs about the Shroud held by its owners, handlers and worshippers over a period of 500 years.

"Surprised and intimidated by the extended scope of the investigation and by the vastness of the narrative that emerged in the course of research, I was nevertheless soon compelled to accept that only by examining that span of a half millennium could I begin to open the meaning of Guarini's chapel," he wrote.

Malcom Campbell of the University of Pennsylvania wrote of Scott's book, "'Architecture for the Shroud' is an extraordinary historical investigation of published and unpublished documents, ranging from contemporary records and preparatory drawings to popular broadsides. Combined with this exemplary search for historic fact, Scott has given us a profound and satisfying art historical analysis of the very special architectural container for the shroud, Guarino Guarini's chapel."

John Pinto of Princeton University added that Scott's work "transcends the limitations of standard art historical monographs devoted to single buildings by placing Guarini's chapel against the broad background of liturgical and dynastic ritual as well as the remarkable history of the relic it enshrines" and was "written with remarkable clarity and grace."

"Architecture for the Shroud" was written at the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies while Scott was a Faculty Scholar. The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research provided support for photography and color illustrations.

Scott received a bachelor's degree from Indiana University and master's and doctoral degrees from Rutgers University. He is author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on Italian art history, including previous works on the chapel in Turin as well as studies of Borromini, Pietro da Cortona, Bernini, the patronage of the Barberini family and urbanism in early modern Turin. He has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for Advanced Study and the Stanford Humanities Center. He is currently Interim Director of the School of Art and Art History.

The School of Art and Art History is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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