Art History & Archaeology Theses and Dissertations

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    Evolution and Eternity in the Landscape of Defeat: Yokoyama Taikan and Mt. Fuji
    (2023) Mastrandrea, Magdalena; Volk, Alicia; Art History and Archaeology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The end of the Fifteen Year War in August 1945 abruptly dismantled the ideology of art in service of the empire that established Japanese painters had worked under for over a decade. During this time, Yokoyama Taikan, a figurehead of the Nihonga painting genre who infamously called on artists to support the war effort, displayed hyper-nationalist paintings of Mt. Fuji, an icon synonymous with the nation of Japan. As droves of American Occupiers entered the country following Japan’s surrender, artists like Taikan quickly began to adjust their public image to avoid consequences. Yet only two years later, Taikan painted and displayed Landscape of the Four Seasons, an 88-foot-long scroll painting progressing through scenes of mountains, forests, rivers, and most notably, beginning with Mt. Fuji. Although painted in the midst of the Allied Occupation of Japan, when all Japanese media was subjected to strict censorship, Taikan’s use of Fuji at the beginning of this composition blatantly recalls his wartime paintings of the mountain. Despite this, he successfully exhibited Landscape of Four Seasons at the 1947 Japan Visual Arts Academy exhibition, or Inten, the first full-scale Inten since Japan’s surrender. In my analysis of this image, I begin by introducing compositionally similar Mt. Fuji paintings from before the war’s end to establish Taikan as a vehemently nationalistic artist who glorified the empire in the image of Fuji. Through examining the iconography and display of Landscape of the Four Seasons, painted in the dramatically shifted political climate of 1947, I argue that the image of Mt. Fuji, only recently associated with extreme nationalism and militarism, evolved rapidly after Japan’s surrender into a symbol of hope and resilience. The idealistic, symbolic nature of Nihonga painting allowed Taikan to exploit Fuji’s new meaning in defense of his wartime endeavors. Therefore, his Occupation era landscapes of the exact same subject matter evaded suspicion. Landscape of the Four Seasons is evidence of this phenomenon and of Taikan’s full reentry into the mainstream Japanese art world because of its display in the Inten, where it attracted significant attention. In addressing this, I explore the evolution of Mt. Fuji as an icon in the eyes of the Japanese and Americans alike, defining its new symbolism in the postwar period.
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    Swinging, Stillness, and Self-Reflection: An Experiential Approach to Campanian Oscilla
    (2023) May, Mekayla; Gensheimer, Maryl B.; Art History and Archaeology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Modern studies of Roman oscilla, in their focus on the Latin etymology of the term and their treatment of the iconography as standardized Dionysiac imagery, neglect the animation of—and subsequent viewer engagement with—the objects themselves. Oscilla were double-sided marble reliefs suspended in the intercolumniations of predominantly domestic atria and peristyles. This thesis develops an experiential methodology to study the oscillum’s form, context, and disposition and examines their presence in elite and sub-elite houses and in atria and peristyles. The traditional view has characterized oscilla as commodified ancient agrarian ornaments that depict standardized imagery fit for a garden space; I argue in this thesis that the oscillum’s presence within such inherently social spaces as the Roman atrium and peristyle warrants more scrutiny. No two discovered oscilla are the same, and it is the varied imagery and forms that visually and mentally stimulate the Roman viewer as he waits in the reception spaces of the atrium and peristyle to conduct business with the head of the household.I discuss the oscilla programs of three Campanian houses, where oscilla are displayed in various parts of the Roman house, in houses of diverse social strata, and in different levels of quality. My first case study, the House of the Telephus Relief in Herculaneum, offers an opportunity to begin reconstructing a wealthy ancient viewer’s cognitive experience as four tondi oscilla are reinstalled in situ. These oscilla depict scenes of active movement, urging the viewer’s physical engagement alongside his intellectual recognition of proper decorum in the socially and politically charged space of the atrium. In my second case study, I investigate the oscilla program in the peristyle of the House of Marcus Lucretius in Pompeii, where images of solitary masks and instruments provoke theatrical participation and recollection; the oscilla frame and simultaneously disrupt the framing of the theatrical garden to draw attention to the aristocratic viewer’s participation in social performances. Finally, at the House of Fortune in Pompeii, a freedman involved in trade commissioned numerous albeit poor-quality oscilla that pair scenes of conflict with those of cooperation to convince the viewer of the patron’s social and civic participation in the domestic sphere. Together, these case cases demonstrate the oscillum, a unique double-sided and suspended decorative object, inherently mobile and mutable, offered multifaceted experiences between the object’s two sides and for many different types of Roman viewers.
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    Machine Learning Approaches to Archaeological Predictive Modeling in the Age of Wildfire, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, California and Nevada
    (2023) van Rensselaer, Maximilian; Palus, Matthew; Art History and Archaeology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Machine learning is a powerful tool for archaeological prediction mapping. This thesis compares machine learning approaches to Middle and Late Archaic archaeological prediction in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, California and Nevada. Specifically, the analysis seeks to answer whether logistic regression, Random Forest, or Maximum Entropy models perform better at archaeological prediction. The explanatory variables used to predict site presence include elevation, slope, aspect, distance to streams, land cover, soil, and geology. Of all three models, Maximum Entropy produced the most accurate predictive models based on combined diagnostic metrics. Predictive modeling is a valuable tool in preventative archaeology, where identifying and mitigating adverse effects to archaeological sites in a time-efficient manner is critical. Environmental challenges such as uncontrolled wildfires provide an impetus for indigenous communities, management agencies, and researchers to employ predictive modeling approaches in preventative cultural and heritage resource management applications.
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    Nature and Power: The Game Sill Lifes of Jan Weenix (1641-1719)
    (2023) Altizer, Kathleen Joanna; Wheelock, Arthur K; Colontuono, Anthony; Art History and Archaeology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The Dutch artist Jan Weenix (1641-1719) was the most successful game painter of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Specializing in large-scale still lifes that foregrounded naturalistically depicted game arranged before ornate garden views, these innovative images were highly sought after by wealthy merchants, Dutch nobles, and German princes alike. Despite the renown of Weenix’s art in his own time and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these paintings have never been the focus of in-depth critical analysis. Scholarship on Weenix has mostly concentrated on his early Italianate landscapes and his wall panels, while interpretations of his game paintings have almost exclusively focused on their place within the long tradition of dead animal painting in Northern art, beginning with sixteenth-century Flemish market scenes. This dissertation departs from this approach by arguing that Weenix’s game paintings are best understood within the dramatic cultural shifts and political upheavals of William III’s stadholderate (1672-1702). It was during this period that Weenix first specialized in game paintings. At this time, estate ownership, hunting, and garden design were becoming newly significant performances of authority, wealth, and power, both among members of the wealthy merchant patriciate and at William III’s court. Tracing Weenix’s evolution as a game painter alongside the cultural-political history of Dutch hunting practices and gardens, I explore the nuanced ways in which Weenix’s art drew from a myriad of contemporary visual sources to stylistically and conceptually promote his patrons’ belonging to a community of pan-European elites. I show how merchant collectors sought out Weenix’s game paintings as representations of estate ownership, which had become an increasingly significant marker of inherited wealth and dynastic privilege among the merchant class. In the same period, hunting and garden art became invested with new political meanings as Stadtholder William III made hunting a centerpiece of Dutch court life for the first time, while his courtiers developed magnificent gardens to celebrate his military achievements. I prove that Weenix’s art directly refers to these activities and spaces, enabling those inside and outside the court to adopt the imagery of political power to promote their own status. Combining a sustained visual analysis of Weenix’s game paintings with an in-depth study of his patronage, I demonstrate how Weenix’s art reflected and furthered the aspirations of his patrons, and consequently participated in the construction of elite social identities. I conclude that, through Weenix’s art, collectors claimed the right to to exercise control over nature, identifying themselves with pan-European nobility and ultimately illustrating their participation in the establishment of cultural and political hegemony over their domains.
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    By the Book: Early Modern Women's Artistic Education and the Silent Instruction of Print Culture
    (2023) Haselberger, Mallory Nicole; Colantuono, Anthony; Art History and Archaeology; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Across early modern Europe, the use of the hand as a tool, full of vigor, and comparatively, attentive to both medium and content, remained at the forefront of artistic practice. For many artists, particularly women, a question of refining the skilled work of the hand became central to understanding the gendered nature of art itself and the limits of contemporary artistic education. This thesis broadly considers the changing nature of women’s artistic education between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, guided by the work of the woman artist through print culture and self-instruction. With central case studies exploring the artistic texts of Giovanna Garzoni, Élisabeth-Sophie Chéron, and Catherine Perrot, this thesis traces the private means by which women artists utilized rising access to print culture for artistic instruction in domestic spaces, commensurate with mass production and expansion of printed volumes in Europe between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.