For this week’s discussion, please visit the Uffizi Gallery online exhibition On Being Present. (Links to an external site.)

As well, please take a look at the website of the exhibition’s curator, artist Justin Randolph Thompson: (Links to an external site.)

I would like each of you to start an original thread on ONE of the artworks in the online exhibition. As we examine the history of race relations in the United States – a history which very much affects current events – let’s take a look at the picturing of race in periods of time and contexts such as the European Renaissance, Baroque and beyond. Let’s think about how these images inform understanding of and advance ideas about race and identity.

I invite you to take your original thread in whatever direction you wish. Let us remember that Art History is not outside current events which affect us all, but has much to say about the mentalities and social phenomena of our time. I look forward to a productive discussion!


One aspect of art historical writing that combines iconography and iconology is the biographical approach. Often, art historians like to analyze works in the context of the identity and biography of their makers. With this approach, scholars believe that the life of an artist informs the way they make art and that our understanding of the work of art is deepened by our knowledge of the artist’s life and personal identity.

For your weekly written response, please review our biography readings on Leyster and Van Dyck to get a sense of the aspects of an artist’s life that are considered significant in the context of art history.

Then, select one Baroque artist from any part of this module (excluding Leyster and Van Dyck!). Research this artist’s biography (starting with the National Gallery, Metropolitan, Rijksmuseum or other museum’s online website is a good idea!)

Next, select ONE work by your chosen artist that you think REFLECTS SOME ASPECT OF THE ARTIST’S LIFE/IDENTITY. For an example of how art historians connect an artist with her work, review this reading on Leyster (Links to an external site.) by Dr. Saskia Beranek or this reading on Van Dyck (Links to an external site.) by Michael John Partington.

In a two page response, please analyze your work of art (formal analysis, iconography, iconology) in terms of HOW it reflects your artist’s biography. Your thesis sentence for this project will propose a connection between the work and the artist herself.

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