Fairfield University professor wins prize for first book and Fulbright award for his next project


Jesús Escobar, Ph.D., director of the Art History Program at Fairfield University, has won a respected art history award for his first book and a Fulbright Senior Scholar award to continue research on his next project.

Dr. Escobar's 2003 debut "The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid" (Cambridge University Press) won the Eleanor Tufts Award, a prize given by the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies (ASHAHS). An in-depth look at how architecture and planning related to society, politics and Spanish culture, the book considers the transformation of Madrid from a secondary market town to the cosmopolitan capital of the Spanish Habsburg Empire.

In their comments on the book, the judges said they were particularly impressed by the thoroughness of Dr. Escobar's research, the rigor of his arguments and the significance of his findings.

"This book makes an important contribution to the study of Spanish architectural history, it fills a need for a book in English on the topic, and will likely remain an authoritative reference on the Plaza Mayor and the growth of Madrid... for years to come," they wrote.

Dr. Escobar, who holds a doctorate from Princeton University, first researched his topic for a dissertation in the early 1990s. The professor, who was a Fulbright Scholar in Spain as a graduate student and also holds a bachelor's degree from Columbia University, put the work aside for a few years when he started teaching at Fairfield in 1996.

In March, Dr. Escobar won a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to continue his research in Madrid, this time for a new project tentatively titled "Architecture and Politics in the Madrid of Philip IV." This book will look at a series of case studies of architecture and urban design in Madrid at its height as a ceremonial city in the 17th century.

"What interests me is that Madrid achieved its most spectacular appearance at the very moment that Spanish political power began to wane," he said.

Dr. Escobar will spend the fall semester researching at Madrid's municipal and notarial archives and the city's department of urbanism, and taking photographs of Baroque monuments for the book. While there, he will be affiliated with the Modern History Department of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

He expects to complete the book in about five years, but hopes to publish some articles on aspects of his study as well.

Dr. Escobar was raised in Sacramento, Calif., and lives in New York City. A specialist in early modern architecture and urbanism, he has published articles and reviews in leading art history journals in the United States, Italy and Spain. He was a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 15, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 253