Examining Art That Baroque The Mold

Rolling out the artwork from the Spanish region means bringing out the Baroque.

This artwork was presented by second-year art history and Spanish double-major Emily McClellan during the Art History Association’s meeting on Tuesday, March 25.

After McClellan provided basic background information on Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, she discussed his paintings and how he was influenced by the Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. She commented on both artists’ paintings’ contrast, saturation and lighting.

McClellan went on to present  Velázquez’s most famous court painting, “Las Meninas,” and discussed the various theories behind the painting.

One such theory reserves that Velázquez’s painting is of the Infanta Margarita Maria, like a snapshot in time. She also pointed out that the King and Queen of Spain can be seen in the mirror of the painting, and that there is a running debate about whether the King and Queen are being reflected off of the canvas or if the piece was painted from the point of view that the viewers are the King and Queen themselves.

“There’s also a theory that this is a representation of painting in itself,” McClellan said. “We have  Velázquez doing the act of painting a painting while he’s in a painting that he painted, so it’s like inception but with painting.”

McClellan closed the presentation by showing Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s version of the “Las Meninas” painting as a comparison.

Sarah Davis, a third-year art history major and co-president of the Art History Association, said although McClellan’s presentation was on the short side, she thought it was excellent, and that McClellan successfully covered Velázquez’s development as an artist and ended on a high note with his most famous piece.

“You can tell that she’s really into the subject and that her study abroad [in Sevilla, Spain] next semester will be right up her alley,” Davis said. “Every now and again it’s good to go back to the classics because then you know where contemporary art has come from.”

Rachel Beaudoin, a third-year art history major and co-president of the Art History Association, said the club holds these informal, discussion-based presentations every week because it’s a good way for people to share their interests and expose everybody to new concepts.

“It’s a good way for people to share what they’re interested in that’s not being taught in class and to get everybody involved and explore new ideas,” Beaudoin said. “Art history in the classroom is great but it’s about bringing it outside of that and having it be an environment where you can talk about what you’re interested in.”