My term paper topic is Islam and Christianity, I've attached term paper instructions and sample paper; I truly need the topic essays discussing similarities and differences based upon sources.
HUMANITIES 101 -----TERM PAPER INSTRUCTIONS & TOPICS
SPRING 2009 (Dr. Stansbury) HUM101, sect. 003016 (asynchronous online class)
DUE DATE: to “Drop Box” basket called “TERM PAPER” by end of Sunday, June 14.
These written instructions are of necessity long and detailed. However, if you get and print the Sample Paper that is posted, you will find that it illustrates well many of the instructions on layout, length, title page, abstract page, citations in body of essay, citations (References) at end of essay, etc. By having the Sample Paper at hand, these written instructions will be much clearer. [The Sample Paper is on a topic NOT suited for this course—it is there to demonstrate layout and format]. Also—get the “CITING SOURCES” sheet and refer to it often. Strayer has adopted the APA style for all formal writing assignments, so that is what is required here on the Term Paper.
TOPIC: If your topic is one specifically listed at the end of this document, then consider it “pre-approved” and move ahead with your initial work on it—but you MUST make your selection known RIGHT AWAY with an entry at the discussion area of the “Term Paper” tab under “Course Home”—and please check back for instructor feedback to your selection. That feedback will be essential for getting started down the right path; you may even decide to change topic. If your topic choice is NOT listed at the end of this document, then you must propose it to the instructor and get his approval with feedback. The deadline for entering your topic proposal or selection in the “Term Paper” discussion area is MAY 26 but please do so earlier if you make an earlier choice—and then check for the instructor feedback. Visit the “Term Paper” area regularly and read entries for other students as well; you will get many ideas and tips. ALL MUST DO THIS.
LENGTH: Your term paper will be a minimum of 5 (full) typed pages of actual essay (not counting the required separate title page, the abstract page, or the page of References at the end). This means 8 pages minimum—title page, abstract page, at least 5 full pages of essay, and a references page. See the posted SAMPLE PAPER to illustrate layout. See next page for a summary of these parts. The title page is page 1. Your References page will be page 8 or higher.
I. TYPE OF PAPER:
This paper is to be an analytical, interpretive essay which will involve some limited library research. The focus will be on PRIMARY SOURCE materials related to the course. By primary sources I mean literature or records from the culture and/or period being studied--though in English translation. For instance, a primary source on Plato or Greek philosophy would be Plato's Republic, or some segment of it. A primary source on early Christianity would be from the New Testament; on early Islam from the Quran (=Koran). You also should use secondary sources (later books about your topic, sources, or documents). You are expected to have a topic that is reasonably specific or narrow for a paper this short. You will be expected to take a position (which will be your THESIS) on your topic. This thesis should be clear and supported by plausible argument from primary source material and background. When I say the paper is to be analytical and interpretive, that does NOT mean descriptive. Descriptive summary of something I can read in an encyclopedia will NOT do it (that would be a summary report). Finally, I highly recommend that the paper be comparative: compare different cultural patterns or values by analyzing primary sources from each culture; compare different philosophers on a limited number of issues; compare different religions on some aspect of their history or doctrine (but do so without advocating or demonizing any one belief system—that would be a different type of assignment). These are just a few ideas of many.
I recommend that you use MS-Word and save it as a .doc file, but I will accept other programs and file types as long as you get prior approval from the instructor (I need to make sure I can download it into a form that is both readable and acceptable).
The paper must have a separate title page (see below), separate abstract page, and separate references page., and it must have 5 full pages minimum of actual essay (This adds up to 8 pages minimum). The paper is to be
doubled-spaced using size-10 or size-12 type (exception—you have the option of single-spacing the abstract paragraph, block quotes and references/citations). We will be using the APA style for making citations—more on this below and in other posted documents.
THE MARGINS: The top, bottom, and left margins should be approximately 1”. The right margin should be roughly 1” also (However, I usually advise against justifying [making even] the right margin). The top margin of your first page of text can be 1-1/2” to 2”. I am not too picky on this, but I do pay attention to excesses such as overly large margins that serve to shorten the paper. Here is a summary of the parts of the paper:
1. Title Page—see Sample Paper; note the running head at top; pledge at bottom
2. Abstract page—usually a 120-word summary paragraph indicating main points and ideas. Ok to single-space this part. See Sample Paper.
3. 5-full pages of essay (double-space; organize with introductory paragraph that goes from general to specific about what you will cover and your thesis; body of essay of a few paragraphs; then a concluding paragraph), Use parenthetic or in-text citations in APA style throughout as needed. See Sample Paper and Citing Sources sheet. Indent the FIRST LINE of each paragraph in about 5 spaces.
4. References list page or pages—in APA style. See Sample Paper and Citing Sources sheet.
A SAMPLE PAPER IS POSTED WHICH ILLUSTRATES AN ACCEPTABLE FORMAT (the subject matter for this sample paper would NOT apply to our course; just the format and style). You are expected to look at this sample. I do suggest that you use the sample as a model for making citations and formatting your paper. This detailed instruction sheet on format, citations, and style is more simply illustrated by the posted sample paper.
Title Page: Please have a separate title page (not numbered) which has the title (you make it up), your name, Humanities 101, Section 003016, Spring Quarter 2009, Strayer University, Instructor: Dr. Stansbury. Include the “certification” pledge as you see it on the posted sample papers. It is best to center this information on the title page. Do the abstract on page 2. Then start the essay itself on page 3.
Citations: You MUST do these—and in-text parenthetic citations must be appropriately placed throughout the body of your essay (as per the sample paper which shows such parenthetic notes). All students will use the APA style for making citations. You are expected to follow the instructions given below under “References” and on the separate sheet called “Citing Sources”. You should pay attention to the examples of citations in the posted “Sample Paper” and on the “Citing Sources” sheet. Although the Sample Paper is for a very different course and subject matter, they do help you visualize what a finished paper should look like in terms of format, layout, and citation method. NOTE: You may use the class text and electronic (from internet or CD) sources; however, there is a REQUIREMENT: either a) a MINIMUM of two printed (non-electronic) sources beyond the class text (such as books or articles from a traditional library), or b) to gain and use two sources from the online “Resource Center”. In most cases this means some traditional library work as you find a book or article on your subject, or it means using your log-in to access resources through the online “Resource Center”. Finally, a sheet has been posted in “Doc Sharing” called “PLAGIARISM”—each of you is REQUIRED TO READ THE PLAGIARISM sheet and avoid plagiarism in your term paper. Feel free to seek my advice if questions on this. If it is evident that instructions regarding citations are ignored, there will be a grade penalty. For instance, an essay done with a brief list of sources at the end but no citations in the body of the essay will be penalized severely—usually and F or D. This is an important part of the assignment; but the fact that the number of required sources is so few and the paper is so short will make it much easier. (see “References” below) Failure to use adequate citations of your sources and (when appropriate) quote marks leads to PLAGIARISM and severe penalties. I also will be making available an optional tool called “Turnitin” for student use as a double-check ahead of time for potential plagiarism problems so that corrective action can be taken.
Once you have selected and narrowed down your topic, your research begins and you should develop a working thesis---a position on your topic. This position should respond to a question about the topic. The overall thrust of your paper is to demonstrate the validity of your
thesis. For instance, a TOPIC might be the practice of holy war in three faith traditions. Your research would take you into passages in the Bible, early Christian sources, and the Quran (=Koran) about wars for a divine cause; this research would lead to a basic question such as “What is a common basis for holy war in these three religious traditions?” Your answer to that question would be your THESIS, for instance, “The strength of the idea of holy war is directly correlated to the strength of one’s monotheistic ideal and the understanding of how precepts about holy war apply.” In this sort of essay assignment, the effectiveness of the paper is often directly related to the clarity of the thesis and the clarity and persuasiveness of the supporting arguments and evidence. The thesis becomes the unifying theme of your paper—very often it is asserted in the introduction and conclusion of the essay.
One measure of your paper’s quality will be your analysis or interpretation of the evidence. That means you do not simply summarize and describe basic facts and characteristics of the topic or basic claims by other writers, you also go well beyond that by analyzing and interpreting the evidence in a persuasive way. You do not have to take a comparative approach, but one of the advantages of this approach is that it usually compels you to get into analytical (not just descriptive) mode.
Think through different ways to organize your essay. If you are doing a comparative paper, you are advised to cover and compare aspects of each belief system in each part of the paper. For instance, if you were to compare/contrast Plato and Pericles about their views of democratic classical Athens, do the comparison throughout the paper instead of using the first half the paper to deal with Pericles and the second half to deal with Plato—the latter approach too often ends up being two descriptive “mini” essays instead of an integrated analysis that effectively compares. PARAGRAPHING: In this type of paper, make each paragraph coherent around one theme or issue. Avoid excessively long paragraphs---those close to a page or more in length are too long! Avoid short paragraphs of just one or two sentences. The first line of each paragraph should be indented inward an extra five spaces. Your paper should have a general introductory paragraph (usually including the thesis and some sense of your “narrowed down” topic and how your paper will cover that topic), a body of paragraphs which support the thesis, and a general concluding paragraph. (Experienced or skilled writers in this genre need not feel rigidly bound to this structure).
VI: SOME TIPS:
Be coherent and concise. Be well-organized. Strive for clarity in this type of paper. An economy of style which prefers active verbs to passive verbs is very effective in this genre. Remember, the paper is partly informative and mostly analytical and persuasive---you do not have to review and describe an entire belief system at length before getting into your thesis and analysis. Use your primary and secondary sources judiciously—so that you are well-supported with examples and evidence but not cluttering your paper with quotes; find that balance.
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AVOID PLAGIARISM—a good paper is a blending of researched material and ideas from other properly cited sources together with your own analysis and contributions. An important challenge is to integrate your researched information with your own analysis and ideas in such a way that the paper can fairly be said to be “YOURS”. The posted Sample Paper (though on different subject matter than this course) illustrates the proper blending and use of researched information (with citations and—as needed--quote marks) together with the essay writer’s own ideas and contributions. Your thesis should give unity to the paper. Brainstorm, outline, rewrite, etc. It is a process, not a push just before due date. Feel free to consult with the instructor, especially in the “Term Paper” discussion area under “Course Home”.
Your paper will be evaluated in terms of content (thesis, facts, support, persuasiveness, use of evidence, documentation and sources) and in terms of presentation (following instructions, citing sources, effort in using the APA style, spelling and grammar, style, clarity, organization, having a clear and specific thesis, etc.). It is, however, possible that the presentation problems can be so severe or instructions so blatantly ignored that the overall grade for the paper will be lowered significantly. CITATIONS: This is a MAJOR part of this assignment (not minor). Your grade will suffer severely for failure to show much effort in 1) doing proper APA-style citations in the body of your essay, or 2) doing a proper APA style listing of sources at the end of the essay. 2) So please do not slop something together at the last minute, do not forget to proofread well, and do not just ignore the formatting and citation instructions. This should be a
polished paper which you thoroughly proofread before submitting.
RULES OF CAUTION: a) Your paper is NOT to be a paper turned in for another course, nor a slightly adapted version of a paper turned in for another course. b) You must adequately document your sources according to the instructions—and note the minimum requirement of either two printed sources (besides class text) or two sources from the online “Resource Center”. c) Plagiarism must be avoided. Faculty are more and more using new search tools (Turnitin is just one example) and software to catch those who plagiarize from the internet or other students; I strongly warn you on this. We have caught those who simply lift from the internet and then do not give the appropriate citation or quote marks (believe me, this type of cheating is NOT worth it). Do your own work and cite your sources properly and consistently (even when not directly quoting!). Citing sources is a virtue—so, if you use a source, why not cite it? Violating any of these rules of caution can result in a severe grade penalty and, in some cases, be considered honor code violations which can ruin your future…academic and otherwise. I have posted in “Doc Sharing” a sheet called “Plagiarism”—you must read it by the end of Week 2. See above under “Some Tips” also. Finally, in the Resource Center” tab in our course shell, there is a tab called “Plagiarism Website” that each student is expected to utilize.
VIII: NAMING, COPYING, AND SUBMITTING:
NAMING: It is helpful (though not required) if you name the file “tpap” followed by your last name; for example “tpapJordan”. If you must use something besides MS-Word in some recent version, you will need to contact me about this. Do NOT send me a .zip file (better to send me separate .doc files if necessary). Put your name and “HUM101, sect. 003016” and “Term Paper” and a title (you make that up) clearly on your title page so that these are visible when I print it up.
MODE OF SUBMISSION: BE SURE TO KEEP A HARD COPY AND A COPY ON BOTH HARD DRIVE AND FLASH DRIVE (or CD or on something external or independent of the PC—even an e-mail attachment to yourself). Be sure your name is on the title page. To submit: submit as an attachment in eCollege’s “Drop Box” in the basket called “TERM PAPER”. Once in the Drop Box basket, use the “Add Attachment” feature to attach your paper there. (If this fails, use “Doc Sharing”). Do NOT e-mail the term paper.
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IX: REFERENCES (you will also need to see additional details on References in the separate instruction sheet called “Citing Sources” and the Sample Paper). From experience I can tell you that most students have found the Sample Paper very useful for modeling their own paper etc.---every basic type of citation is used in the sample paper and the sample paper is well organized. The “Citing Sources” sheet is very useful for providing examples on how to cite various types of sources. BOTH NEED TO BE USED.
You are expected to cite your sources, not JUST in a listing at the end but throughout your essay as required—and a citation should somewhere give the page # or a specific location (as illustrated in the Sample Paper which is posted). The style you use for citations is the APA (American Psychological Association) style—as is true for the Sample Paper. You will give shortened parenthetic citations to sources in the appropriate places in the body of your paper—and you will have an alphabetized list (with full information for each source listed) of those sources at the end of the paper in a list of “References”. For most purposes, simply following the examples of the Sample Paper and the “Citing Sources” sheet should be adequate.
Citations are normally required for all direct quotes AND for specific information or paraphrases gleaned from outside sources. IMPORTANT !!! : You must use AT LEAST two printed sources (not internet or CD-ROM) beyond the class texts or you must use two sources gained from the online Resource Center. You may use the class text also and you may use internet or CD sources also, but cite all sources as suggested in “Citing Sources” and in the sample paper.
If you use internet material, you must cite the general name of the site, specific internet address (URL), the title and author of the information or article (if available), and the date you "visited" the site (so a reader can also look it up). The URL alone is not enough, and in a parenthetic reference, use a shortened title or author name rather than the URL in the parenthetic note. Then, in an alphabetized list at the end of your paper, you will include a citation to that source that has complete information (There on the list citations of internet sites will include the URLs). Similarly, you may use CD-ROM sources, but specify the CD-ROM, its version, its publisher, and the title, author, etc. of the info (if available). These electronic sources are very uneven in quality and some should be verified by further published support material from the library (journals or books). The sample paper gives examples.
Use quote marks (and citation) on direct quotes of a few lines or key phrases. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING ONLY DIRECT QUOTES REQUIRE CITATIONS. Citations must also be used when information from a source is paraphrased or summarized.
REFERENCE STYLE: As indicated above, if the posted files here do not give you enough specifics, you can ask the instructor. Use the APA style and BE CONSISTENT. In eCollege I post helps for you—a “Citing Sources” sheet, a Sample paper, and links to web sites with examples.
I do insist on specificity in parenthetic notes. This specificity usually would mean specific page number(s) or passage number(s). When that is not possible, the guideline is to be as
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specific as possible. [For example, normally do NOT cite an entire book or article when you can specify the page(s) or passage(s) from which you got a quote or some specific information.] I also want a URL to be as specific as possible in your alphabetized list of sources at the end of the paper—so test the link when you give a URL—the instructor must be able easily to go to that internet site and find the specific article and information you are citing.
SOME SUGGESTIONS ON SOURCES: Your class text by Cunningham & Reich is generally a good secondary source. “Volume I” of this class text does have very short portions from some PRIMARY documents (examples on p. 10 and 18)—and longer selections from primary sources at the end of the class text (pages 295-452; such as the sections of Gilgamesh on p. 295-6). For secondary sources, see the “Course References” section of the syllabus amd make use of the “Resource Center” tab in our course shell—a “Resource Center Instructions” sheet is in Doc Sharing. But often it is a matter of doing a search with a writer’s name or a title--like Plato, Hammurabi, Quran or Koran, or whatever you hope to use. The search can be in a library—and you can also find some primary sources on the internet this way. Your research work—though relatively little as these things go for this assignment-- will require some time in the “Resource Center” tab in our course shell, perhaps some time in a physical library, and perhaps some internet surfing using google, though the last method is the least efficient and often leads to many low quality sources.
X: SOME POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR THE TERM PAPER:
These are just examples. You may use any of these (from # 2 on) or you may adjust them to your interests (same sources, different issues), or do something different entirely (#1 below). The instructor may offer an expanded list as the quarter proceeds.
1. a topic you develop that is related to the class material, has primary source material available to
you, and for which you get approval by the instructor; you can use or slightly adjust any of the
topics below or you can come up with something entirely different. Any topic selection or
proposal must be entered by you in the “Term Paper” tab’s discussion area under “Course Home” by
no later than May 26. Also—revisit the discussion area regularly to see advice to you
and others on this project.
[Those topics below are acceptable, but most of them will need narrowing down. If you select one of those below, you MUST enter that topic selection in the discussion area at the “Term Paper” tab under “Course Home” by May 26. Then check back there for my reply.]
2. Justice and Judgment in the Laws of Hammurabi and Moses
3. Gilgamesh and Odysseus: Different Heroic Ideals
4. Ideology and Social Hierarchy: Comparing Plato and Hindu Social Thought
5. Contrasting Views of Classical Athens: Pericles and Plato
6. On Virtue: Comparing the Views of Confucius and Aristotle
and Wang Chong: Rational Skepticism about the Afterlife in Rome and China
8. Hebrew Prophets and India's Holy Men: Similarities and Differences
9. Elements of Democracy and Constitutionalism: Ancient Practices and Modern Institutions
10. Islam and Christianity [This and any similar religious comparison must be narrowed down for a short term paper like this; narrow it down to issues of interest on which you can find primary source material in both faith traditions; I do insist on balance; this is NOT an assignment for touting one faith over the other or for attacking one faith or another; and if sources used are almost entirely from one side, that is a bad indicator; but you can point out similarities and differences based on what sources say—and I do expect direct use of primary sources from both belief systems—in this case the Quran and the Bible (in English translation). You could compare contrast on certain
ethical issues, such as justice, forgiveness, etc., or on faith doctrines like angels, resurrection/judgment, etc.; keep focus on early developments and beliefs as per the time frame of our course.]
11. Islam and the West: Key Cultural Interactions Before 1400
12. Greek Philosophy in Christian Theology: An Intellectual Synthesis Shapes the West
13. Juvenal and Christine de Pisan: On Women in Society
14. Reviving the Classics—Examples (such as Aquinas, Dante, and Petrarch who use material from much earlier times)
I will be glad to discuss any of these with you. Specific illustrations and examples which illustrate your topic and support your thesis are important. Also, it is often best to narrow a subject to specific, manageable issues; in this short of a paper, do not try to cover too much ground or over-generalize.
Under “Course Home” in eCollege you will find a “Term Paper” tab with a discussion area. I encourage all of you to go this discussion area regularly during the quarter to ask questions about the term paper, to make proposals, to float ideas, and enjoy the give and take on this with classmates and instructor. ENJOY!
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Vermeer & Velasquez 1
VERMEER AND VELASQUEZ
(you make up a title for your paper)
[THIS IS A SAMPLE ONLY AND NOT TO BE USED AS A PAPER FOR THIS OR ANY CLASS. OBVIOUSLY THIS TOPIC IS OFF LIMITS. Besides, this topic does not fit our course anyway. This sample is primarily to show you a sample layout and presentation, as well as examples of citations. HERE ON THE TITLE PAGE, PUT YOUR NAME, YOUR CLASS (Humanities 101, sect. 003016), Spring Quarter 2009, a title, and the running head at the top. Then pay heed to how these PARENTHETIC CITATIONS are done in the body of the essay and how they relate to the REFERENCES list at the end of the essay. Also pay attention to spacing, indenting, and paragraphing. See note at the very end. ]
[THIS SAMPLE PAPER IS IN APA STYLE OF CITATION.]
Spring Quarter 2009
Instructor: Dr. Stansbury
Vermeer and Velasquez 2
Diego Velasquez (1599-1660) and Jan Vermeer (1632-1675) were painters of the Baroque period in Europe who became renowned for the detail, realism, and skill evident in their work. Both trained under master painters, and both embraced religious themes in their early work. But Velasquez enjoyed fame and grand patronage in his lifetime, whereas Vermeer was little known, and only gained renown in the 1800s, long after his death. Indeed, Vermeer seems to have been a recluse, and even in his own life some of his works were mistakenly attributed to others. On the other hand, it may have been this lack of fame that allowed Vermeer more artistic freedom and the inclination to experiment with innovative approaches and techniques.
Vermeer and Velasquez 3
Vermeer and Velasquez
Diego Velasquez and Jan Vermeer were two of the most significant artists of Western Europe’s Baroque period. When I first began this research, I envisioned talking only about the many differences in their works. I have since learned that they share many things in common. In this paper I will use two works of art, Velasquez’ Las Meninas (The Ladies in Waiting) and Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance, to illustrate the complex and intriguing styles of these two masters. I will discuss how religion and politics played a role in each of the artists’ lives, and how one was famous in his own time while the other was lost in obscurity until only a century ago. Although both artists are appropriately categorized as Baroque, I will argue that the lesser known Vermeer displayed more innovation and greater realism.
Diego de Silva Velasquez was born in 1599 in Seville, Spain, as a Catholic (Wheelock, 1997, p. 4). Jan Vermeer was born thirty-three years later in Delft, Netherlands, as a Calvinist but later converted to the Catholic religion when he married Catharina Bolnes, whose mother was Catholic. The mother had opposed this marriage until Vermeer converted (Bailey, 1995, p. 8). Further evidence of Vermeer’s conversion is shown by his early work Saint Praxedis, a second-century Roman Christian. This was based on the Florentine artist Felice Ficherelli whose painting of the same name was done in 1645 (Wheelock, 1997, p. 8).
Both artists studied under master painters. Velasquez, under Francisco Pacheco, was admitted to the Seville Painters Guild in 1617 and a year later married Pacheco’s daughter, Juana (Brown, 1969, p. 8). Vermeer’s training is less clear. There are several
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possibilities given, including Hendrik ter Brugghen in Utrecht, where Vermeer’s mother-in-law had family connections (Wheelock, 1997, p. 3). Vermeer may have studied under another master artist, Abraham Bloemart, also in Utrecht. Vermeer’s early work closely matched Bloemart’s style, and Bloemart was related to Catharina Bolnes, then Vermeer’s future wife. What is known, as Bailey (1995) points out, is that Jan Vermeer was a member of the Guild of Saint Luke as a master painter in 1653 (p. 8).
Another similarity between both artists is that their early work consisted of mainly religious themes. This can be seen in Velasquez’ work, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, painted in 1618. Jan Vermeer’s work, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, was done in 1654. This was a popular theme at the time and each artist could have been influenced by their respective guilds, whose artists’ may have visited Italy and copied similar works. Another work of art by Velasquez was The Surrendur of Breda, in 1653. It shows the Dutch general, Justin of Nassau, surrendering to Spanish general, Ambrosio Spinola. Breda, a fortress town in the Netherlands controlled the roads to Utrecht and Amsterdam. According to Brown (1969), when Velasquez painted his work, he consulted Dutch and French engravings of Breda and the surrounding areas (p. 67). This can be compared to Vermeer’s work, View of Delft, for its portrait of the Netherlands’ environment.
As many similarities as there are between these two artists, one of the main differences is that Diego Velasquez was a famous artist in his own time. As the official painter for King Philip IV’s court, Velasquez’ art was seen by some of Europe’s most
Vermeer and Velasquez 5
powerful and influential people of the time. In contrast, Vermeer seems to have been a recluse, as noted by the art historian Andre Malraux, a view supported by the fact that both his landscapes were done from a window. Vermeer apparently relied more on his activities as art dealer than on the sale of his own paintings (“Vermeer”, 1982; also see the biography “Jan Vermeer”, parags. 3, 8-9 at “Olga’s Gallery”). After his death, Vermeer was left in obscurity and not rediscovered until the French critic Theophile Thore published a series of articles about him in 1866. When Vermeer died in 1675, many of his art works were auctioned off to pay debts he accumulated over his lifetime (Bailey, 1995, p. 22). Anthony van Leewenhoek, the Delft microscopist, was assigned by the city fathers as executor of Vermeer’s estate. According to Bailey (1995, p. 21), Leeuwenhoek is the scholar depicted in both Vermeer’s The Astronomer (1668) and The Geographer (1669), and so was apparently a friend of Vermeer (compare Fiero, 2002, Book. 4, p. 77, 87-88).
One of Vermeer’s most famous paintings is Woman Holding a Balance, also known as Woman Weighing Pearls (“Olga’s Gallery”), painted in 1664 and now hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Here you can see why his “rediscoverers” called him a master artist. He skillfully uses light to bring our attention to the woman waiting for the balance to come to a rest. The pearls catch the light, allowing us to see that she is about to weigh them. The deeper meaning comes from the painting she partially covers, The Last Judgment. While she is weighing the pearls, the archangel Michael is weighing souls. Thus, we must be sure that earthly treasures and knowledge do not obscure from us the weightier eternal matters of life. The woman wears no
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jewelry and is dressed respectably, indicating her awareness of this truth. In addition, she pays no attention to the mirror in front of her, as if knowing that
beauty does not bring divine acceptance. Her apparent pregnancy suggests humble appreciation of the blessing of life within her, and concern with that outweighs concern for herself. These spiritual undertones show Vermeer’s skill at using realism to communicate religious piety. As Fiero (2002) says of a much earlier age, “realism enhanced the devotional mood” (Book 3, p. 17).
The painting inspired Pieter De Hoogh (=de Hooch), a fellow artist and friend of Vermeer, to paint Woman Weighing Gold in 1664. In the opinion of Bailey (1995), although De Hoogh was more famous, his painting lacks the magical tranquility of Vermeer’s (p. 72). It can also be noted that some of Jan Vermeer’s own works were attributed to De Hoogh, before Vermeer was rediscovered. The work Allegory of Painting is one example of this (“Vermeer”, 1982).
To further complicate identification of Vermeer’s works, in 1945 Hans van Meegeren forged works claiming to be early works of Vermeer. These included Christ Among the Doctors and Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery. Van Meegeren did this to retaliate against the art critics who had denied his own works had any artistic value. One of these was even sold to Goering, the Nazi leader (Bailey, 1995, p. 23).
Velasquez’ Las Meninas, an oil on canvas, shows us how he used the brushstrokes to add texture and highlight his work. Here you see the Baroque style using light and dark
Vermeer and Velasquez 7
to create clarity and obscurity (Adams, 1997, p. 361; Cunningham & Reich, 2006, Vol. II, p. 175-176). While the five-year-old infanta, or princess Margarita is the main focus of the painting, everyone in the painting is real---all but one are known by name. The paintings on the wall are replicas of Flemish works by the artist’s son-in-law, Mazo (Brown, 1969, p. 179). Directly below them appears one of the mysteries of Las Meninas. It is a blurred image of King Philip IV and his wife. Although it is believed to be a mirror image of them, it is also possibly a frame painting. If a mirror, are they the subjects whom Velasquez is painting, or are they observers watching their daughter being painted? This painting brings to mind Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait of 1434, in which a convex mirror behind a bride and groom reflects observers of the wedding. As the artwork on the walls in Las Meninas is Flemish, perhaps Velasquez was deliberately using van Eyck’s technique.
In Las Meninas, Velasquez painted himself wearing the red cross of the Order of Santiago in which he became a knight in 1659. The cross must have been added later, because the original painting was dated 1656 (Adams, 1997, p. 361). Even his becoming a knight had some controversy, because he could not prove the purity of his blood; Pope Alexander VII had to waive the requirements that proof be presented of noble birth on both sides of his family (Brown, 1969, p. 34).
No one can deny that Velasquez and Vermeer were master artists. Often a student might outdo his or her teacher, however, Pacheco gained inspiration and learning from his student, Velasquez. Velasquez finished Las Meninas, his most famous work, shortly before his death. In it he seems to be stepping away to watch the observers with a
Vermeer and Velasquez 8
confidence of one famous during his own lifetime. He does not boast, but he does want all to know he is painting the royal family. In contrast, in Vermeer’s self-portrait,
Allegory of Painting, you see only Vermeer’s back as he diligently attends to his craft. He seems more interested in having his work known than in personal fame. To see
Vermeer’s face, we must look at his painting, The Procuress, which depicts a brothel. On the left is Vermeer smiling and raising a glass as if to make a joke or make light of what is going on around him. The work is based on Frans van Mieris’ The Charlattan (1655), done the year before Vermeer’s The Procuress (Bailey, 1995, p. 38).
Vermeer’s experimental approach to art also contributed to his lack of popularity during his lifetime. He was unique with a typically Dutch genre, resisting all the Italian,
French, and Flemish influences which had effects on the work of other Dutch artists of the day. The realistic quality of Vermeer’s work closely relates to the use of wide-angle lenses and telescopic lenses, such as those later used in photography. This is why his discovery in the late 1800s coincided with the refinement in perception accompanying the development of photography (“Vermeer”, 1982; also, Cunningham & Reich, 2006, Vol. II, p. 179-181). One has to wonder, if Vermeer were alive today, whether photography might be his preferred artistic medium.
Although Baroque art developed in some directions very different qualities from the classical tradition, in artists like these two we see important elements of that classical
Vermeer and Velasquez 9
heritage retained. Fiero (2002, Book 1, p. 129; cf. “orderliness” in Cunningham & Reich, 2006, Vol. I, p. 71-2 ) describes the classical style as
….characterized by humanism…realism, or fidelity to nature, and
by idealism, that is, the commitment to an underlying standard of
perfection. The human body and human experience are central to
all the arts of classical Greece.
The artistic works of Velasquez and Vermeer share somewhat in these classical qualities while adapting new techniques of Baroque painting. After researching both artists, I
must say that I prefer the works of Vermeer to those of Velasquez. But this is a matter of taste. I appreciate the realism of Vermeer to the artistic qualities of Velasquez. Although
Velasquez gained greater fame during his own life, the works of Vermeer also were noted, albeit often erroneously attributed to other artists. Vermeer’s innovative and experimental techniques add to his greatness. This is not to take away from my admiration for the works of Velasquez. Under the patronage of royalty, Velasquez had less freedom to engage in realism and experimental technique. This is exemplified in two portraits Velasquez made of King Philip IV, the first now viewable by x-ray. This earlier portrait had Philip with a natural appearance, but the later portrait flattered him with the air of royalty (Brown, 1969, p. 13). In the end, I suppose that I prefer the realism, innovation, and artistic freedom which I associate with the works of Jan Vermeer.
Vermeer and Velasquez 10
Adams, Laurie Schneider. (1997). A history of western art (2nd ed.). New York:
Bailey, Martin. (1995). Vermeer. London: Phaidon.
Brown, Dale. (1969). The world of Velasquez, 1559-1660. New York: Time-Life
Cunningham, Lawrence, & Reich, John. (2006). Culture and values: A survey of the
humanities (6th ed., Vols. I and II). Belmont, CA: Thomson.
Fiero, Gloria K. (2002). The humanistic tradition (4th ed., Books 1, 3, and 4). New
Jan Vermeer (1632-1675). (n.d.). From Olga’s Gallery web site. Retrieved October 7,
2005 from http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vermeer/vermeerbio.html
Olga’s Gallery. (n.d.). Jan Vermeer’s painting, “Woman weighing pearls”, was retrieved
October 20, 2005, from http://www.abcgallery.com/V/vermeer/vermeer.html
Vermeer. (1982). Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. Chicago.
Wheelock, Arthur K. (1997). Vermeer: The complete works. New York: Harry N.
[On this sample paper, notice how an internet site is cited—“Jan Vermeer” and “Olga’s Gallery” above on p. 10—and the parenthetic notes to them on p. 5; notice how the parenthetic citations to books will give page #s—that is expected; notice the frequency of citations in the body of the essay; notice the completeness of the info on each source on the alphabetized list; notice that a reference to an internet site goes by a general name first—then the URL—and never just a URL.]
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