Explore Velázquez’s system of reflexive representations and the way they may have aided in his self-fashioning at the royal court.

The paper should be a tightly argued 5-6 page essay. While drawing from the readings and your class notes, you may want to do some additional reading to add to your argument, sharpen, and clarify your points. While focusing attention on specific artists, paintings, photographs, and images you should aim to situate the examples you choose in their larger socio-political and cultural contexts. Make provocative juxtapositions and in your analysis explain how those juxtapositions reveal meaning.

Below are some possible avenues of inquiry. Choose one topic and use it as a starting point for working up your own set of ideas.

Explore Velázquez’s system of reflexive representations and the way they may have aided in his self-fashioning at the royal court. Further explore how his role as curator of the King’s Royal Collection informed his painting. You can use “Las Meninas” and “The Spinners” paintings as examples, but you can also choose other relevant examples from among his works. How have other artists, for example, Picasso, made use of Velázquez in turn?
Can you point to contemporary artists engaged in a similar reflexive enterprise? Offer your own descriptions and analysis of the works you choose; you may also offer close readings of important passages from Svetlana Alpers – The Vexations of Art.


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