Proposal (revised)

The topic for this research project is to compare Titian’s realistic and ideal female subjects in portraiture.  Generalizing women to find the ideal beauty had long been a theme in art, specifically portraiture.  In the 16th century, Titian investigated this idea with allegorical female images to represent the abstract notion of beauty with broad titles alongside his commissioned works which were specifically named after the sitter.  Some examples of these works are Woman with a Mirror (1512-15), La Bella (1536-38), Girl with a Fur Coat (ca. 1535), Eleanora Gonzaga della Rovere (1536-38), Empress Isabella d’Este in Black (1534-36), and Giulia Varano, Duchess of Urbino (1545-47).  The position of this paper is that Titian entitled certain female portraits with an individual’s name because the subject was an unambiguous true rendition, while presented other female depictions with a generic allegorical title because he was portraying an ideal beauty.

In order to develop this project, I plan to first define portraiture including its history and purpose for 16th-century Venetian artists.  Before comparing the portraits and allegories, I will examine Giorgione’s Laura (1506) because this portrayal influenced Titan’s experimentation with realistic and ideal portraiture; identifying who Laura is as a subject is pertinent.  The main point of comparison will be focused around the contrast between the composed and demure portrait, and the attractive qualities of an ideal youthful beauty.  When conducting the comparisons I will explore gender roles to define the 16th-century ideal woman, the significance of portraiture to family life, and the symbolism of attributes and attire.

Working Title and Thesis

Realistic Portrait versus Ideal Allegory: Portrayals of Female Subjects by Titian

Titian entitled certain female portraits with a woman’s  name because the subject was an unambiguous and true rendition, while presented other female depictions with a generic allegorical title because he was portraying an ideal beauty.

Beginnings – Editing and Re-editing

The Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute

I submitted my initial paper proposal to Professor Och, but am not prepared to post it here just quite yet. There is some editing that inevitably needs to be done and further research that needs to take place before I will feel prepared to publicly share it!

I just acquired two print sources from the National Gallery of Art that I thankfully now can add to my collection of bibliography. I have thumbed through a few pages of text and pictures, noting which ones stood out to me.

I think I want to shift the focus of my thesis – and therefore perhaps the title of my essay and research – to something that involves Canaletto’s fantasy of Venice and how he translated that into a reality.


Just a few scattered thoughts to get my blog going – more to come when I fully figure out the logistics of the site!

Venice Biennale 2011 materials

The curators of the Central Asia Pavilion invited several international curators and art critics to address isses regarding the representation of nations at the Biennale.  Their responses can be found here:
, Questions from the curatorial of the Central Asia Pavilion

The following reviews of the 54th Biennale were written by Preston Thayer for Art Aujourdhui (, a French online art journal:

Dispatch 1 from 2011

Dispatch 2 from 2011

Dispatch 3 from 2011

DIspatch 4 from 2011

Dispatch 5 from 2011

Dispatch 6 (final) from 2011




Paper Perposal — 2011 Venice Biennale

For my paper, I would like to explore the Venice Biennale as a global platform for the participating nations as they express their national identity.   The first Venice exhibition was intended to counter the cultural dissonance of the newly formed Italian state.  In 1895, the first Venice Biennale was held that incorporated national pavilions.  It soon became the largest international exhibition of contemporary art with the 2011 Biennale being the largest to date.  S  The Biennale is known for breaking institutional conventions, and although the structure of the Biennale has shifted according to the demands of its time, it remains an important platform for nations as it allows artists to express their cultural identity through the public space of the exhibition.

It is for these reasons that I was drawn to research and explore in depth the 2011 Venice Biennale. It would be completely impossible, especially in a paper such as this, to incorporate all that is the Venice Biennale and its devotion to modernism.  Therefore, I have decided to focus on only the national pavilions, specifically the pavilions of the United States, France, Egypt, India, and South Africa.  Out of the 89 representing nations these five countries were selected based on either their return from a long term hiatus or how the nation chose to address (or raise) questions about their own cultural identity.  ‘By focusing on these five nations I should be able to gain a understanding of how a nation at the Venice Biennale is able to use this high profile exhibition as a means of promoting a national identity.

Preliminary outline for paper:


– Introduction: The “Exposizione d’Arte Cinematografica” was introduced as an addition to the Venice Biennale in 1932 by the authoritarian regime of Mussolini and subsequently the festival has a dynamic history because of its development during World War II and due to the emphasis on international films, changes in evaluation and awards have changed over the years. My research paper will examine the development of the Venice Film Festival as a result of the totalitarian regime of Mussolini and its relationship to the socio-political setting of Italy during the 1930s-1950s.

– Historical background on the film festival

     – When and how it was established

     – Awards and juries

     – Important film makers

     – Directors who attended LUCE (L’Unione Cinematografica Educativa)

               – Private filmmakers

               – Futurist Cinema- “The Futurist Cinema” Manifesto from September 11, 1916

– Elaboration on the “International” emphasis of the festival

     – How the festival was meant to boast Italian productions

– Competition with other festivals

     – Cannes film festival and the agreement they made with one another in 1946

– Mussolini’s thoughts on cinema

     – Cinecittà: the city Mussolini envisioned would compete with Hollywood’s studios

     – Vittorio Mussolini’s relationship to film and his legacy in the Italian film industry

          – Italian Neorealist Cinema
– Post WWII Venice Film Fest



I’m thinking about researching the Venetian portrait style.  Venice started the oil on canvas tradition, so I am interested in understanding how that influenced artists’ styles. I specifically want to look into Bellini and/or Titian focusing on a few key works.  I will keep Vasari in mind.  The topic of women as unnamed subjects is a possible theme.

Narrowing Topic: San Marco Mosaics 19th century

I have narrowed my topic down concerning the Basilica of San Marco’s mosaic decoration. The period of conservation/restoration I would like to focus on is the 19th century. This is an interesting period for the mosaics of San Marco because of the restoration techniques and though not too dissimilar to earlier methods used on the Basilica the administration came under scrutiny for being too intrusive marking a change in the ethical thinking regarding the preservation of mosaics. In 1859 the administration of San Marco made a contract with the Salviati Company for them to supply smalti, restoring damaged mosaics and replacing mosaics that had been lost. The Salviati Company, as well as the individual leading the restorations Giambattista Meduna, faced much criticism largely because the original designs of the mosaics were not always being followed and the glass being used was noticeably of a different quality than the older glass already on the walls. The work that began in 1860 had repercussions for both the aesthetic of the basilica, the conservation of mosaics and mosaic glass making in Italy.


I am working on compiling a bibliography.


Andreescu Treadgold, Irina. “The Real and the Fake: Two Mosaic from Venice in

American Collections.” Studi Veneziani. N. S. 36, 1998. p. 281. n. 13.


Barr, Sheldon. Venetian Glass Mosaics 1860-1917. Antique Collectors Club,



Layard, Sir Henry Austen. “Paper on Mosaic Decoration.” Institute for the Venice and

Murano Glass and Mosaic Company Limited, Metchim and Son, London: 1869.


Otto, Demus. The Mosaic Decoration of San Marco, Venice. Chicago; London:

University of Cicago Press, 1988.

Thinking about the exhibit?

Hi everyone!  And that includes Jim and Tim.

Take a look at the Student Work tab (thank you Jim and Tim) and see the image Melanie posted.  Something like that could make an intriguing opening page to our exhibit if we want to think in terms of “exhibit.”  It could be an interesting way for visitors to move through our space.  Any ideas?  Other suggestions?

I’m reading over the research ideas you’ve posted and am impressed.  You have very interesting topics so far…also BIG topics.  Be thinking about how you might focus these broader topics into a topic you can take on in one semester.  Good work!