The Middle Atlantic Symposium in the History of Art was founded by the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland and is co-sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. This year’s symposium (March 8th-9th) marked the 43rd year that top student representatives from the region’s academic institutions assembled to share their latest research.
On Saturday, March 9th in the NGA’s West Building Lecture Hall, American University alumna, Ms. Catherine Southwick, presented her paper entitled “Renoir and the Paris Commune: The Complexity of Class in Ball at the Moulin de la Galette.” Ms. Southwick argued for a more nuanced interpretation of Pierre Auguste Renoir’s works in the wake of the Paris Commune—one not solely based on extreme class divisions nor entirely formalist in aesthetics. Rather, through Renoir’s compositional devices and choice of politically charged sites, found in the Ball at the Moulin de la Galette (1876), the artist juxtaposes his two realities: he acknowledges his working-class background and the bourgeois patrons upon which he was financially dependent. Strange spatial relationships and disjointed figural configurations brought together in the Moulin de la Galette, according to this young scholar, illustrate Renoir’s complex connection with both seemingly oppositional class factions.
This session was moderated by Dr. Abigail McEwen of the University of Maryland. The other members of Ms. Southwick’s session included George Washington University’s Jennifer Grejda, who presented her paper “Interwoven Histories: Chocolate and Jesuits in The Collation, a Tapestry from the Court of Louis XIV”; Bryn Mawr College’s Carrie Robbins, who gave her paper entitled “The Stereoscope as Cheat! (In)Credulity and Oliver Wendell Holmes”; and the University of Maryland’s Andrew Eschelbacher, who delivered his paper “Defying Death: The Animate Tomb of Auguste Blanqui.”
Congratulations to Ms. Southwick and the other presenters for making this year’s symposium such a success.