Essay Topics for Cheney and Joseph

To Cheney:

Based on Cheney’s post and the comments that I have made on her posts, I am most drawn to her analysis on the topic that surrounds her post titled Portrait of A Couple. Her description of how, typically, a wife’s portrait is placed on the left side of their husband’s portrait to represent a hierarchy or inferiority within the marriage to be most intriguing. I would like her to dig deeper into how  a marriage and couples in Dutch art, during this time period, were made and positioned within the paining itself and placed on a wall. Moreover, did it matter where in the house it was placed? What room? I am curious as to whether putting the wife’s portrait on the left side of their husband’s, during this time period, was a force of habit from a tradition that sprung a while ago or was it crucial and a current norm. In your post and in Westermann, having a mutual relationship of love is discussed when concerning a marriage in Holland, during this period. I wonder how this relates to the paintings and the hierarchy that is within the marriage. How present is this inferiority between the husband and wife within the marriage, and how is the love kept mutual if the man does not respect the wife as much as she respects him? I think research within Westermann’s book and the readings we have done so in Westermann could be helpful to answer some of these question and draw conclusions. I also believe Grootenboer and Spencer would beneficial to utilize when answering questions surrounding historical context and societal norms of this time period.

To Joesph: 

I although I did not comment on this post, I do believe this to be Joesph’s most striking post/argument is his post titled Ignoring Vanitas. How he elaborates on Westermann’s argument that discussing trade and imports in the realm of the valuable objects depicted in Willem Kalf’s painting, Still Life with a Late Ming Ginger Jar, alters the objects’ identities to “Dutch property and as symbols of Dutch prosperity” was one of the highlights for me in this post. I would also like to hear more about how when one is viewing a 17th-Century Dutch still life painting they, usually, look for what Westermann refers to as “vanitas reference”. Moreover, how does an object of symbol in this painting will draw back our memory of the “impermanent nature of almost everything in life and the inevitability of death?”. I am curious on how the meaning of transience in the watch ties with Westermann’s “vanitas reference”, and how it is more important than its origin or its symbolization of wealth. I also wonder what how these different meanings of the watch relate and possibly provide a double meaning to the watch within the painting. What did a watch, typically, symbolize during this time period in Dutch art? Obviously, Westermann’s book and further analyzation of this particular reading in Westermann’s book would be useful for your essay of this topic. I also think it would be beneficial to utilize Grootenbuer’s article when writing your essay. I hope you choose this topic…can’t wait to hear more about it.


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