The I Tatti Mongan Prize is given to a distinguished scholar of Renaissance art or connoisseurship who carries into a new generation the qualities of imaginative scholarship, personal generosity, and devotion to the institutions of art history that were exemplified in their own generation by Agnes and Elizabeth Mongan. It was created to honor these two scholars, thanks to a generous gift from Melvin Seiden in 1986, and has been awarded to Sydney J. Freedberg (1988), Craig Hugh Smyth (1992), Ernst Gombrich (1996), Caroline Elam (2003), Paola Barocchi (2006), Elizabeth Cropper (2011), Hans Belting (2013), and Marvin Trachtenberg (2016).
Agnes and Elizabeth Mongan
Agnes Mongan (1905-1996) was a distinguished curator and connoisseur of drawings ranging from the Italian Renaissance to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in France. She was a scrupulous scholar, an inspired teacher, and a person of integrity and generosity. Her love of the art of the past was complemented by a great appreciation of the art of her own century. Her path-finding career, unconventional for a woman in her time, included positions as Keeper, later Curator of Drawings at the Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard University, and culminated in the directorship of that museum from 1969 to 1971. Her retirement was honored by various visiting professorships and other forms of recognition including the Kress Professorship at the National Gallery of Art. She was one of the distinguished American art historians of the interwar and postwar decades.
Elizabeth Mongan (1910-2002) was a connoisseur of prints and drawings and the first curator of the Lessing J. Rosenwald collection, the finest collection of prints then in private hands. Over the years she helped to steer the collection in the direction of color prints from late-nineteenth and twentieth-century France as well as twentieth-century Germany. She wrote significant catalogs on Klee, Fragonard, Morisot, Daumier and Gauguin, as well as one on the pioneering exhibition in Chicago in 1941 on printmaking in the fifteenth century. She retired from the National Gallery in 1963 and taught art history at Smith College from 1969 to 1975.