Recent Student Work

Seniors majoring in art history may opt to write a thesis of 30 to 50 pages that addresses specific works, artists, themes, methodological approaches, and contexts of images produced around the world and during a vast span of time. Since 2008, art history majors have written original interpretations on the following topics:


  • "Pain Reignited: Mark Rothko's Traumatic Relationship With Jewish Identity and the Holocaust Expressed Through His 1939 Shift to a Surrealistic Style," Sam White
  • "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: An Examination of Pedro de San Agustín's Pintura de Culhuacán," Kaylin Jury (Honors Thesis)
  • "Aren't all the X-Men Gay?: The Transformation of Magneto and the X-Men Across Visual Culture," Jessica Kishbaugh


  • "Cruelty and Control: Analyzing Depictions of Enslaved Individuals in VOC Dutch Painting," Merrill Dowdy
  • "Monumental Instability: Maitreya as Political Propaganda," Ava Boussy (Honors Thesis)
  • "Aesthetics of Independence: Life of Buddha paintings in the Ladakh Budh Vihar," Ellie Penner (Honors Thesis)


  • "Florence + The Machine: A Computational Approach to Florentine Liturgical Manuscript Illuminations from the Late Trecento," Elyssa McMaster
  • "The Challenges Facing Changemakers in Increasing Museum Collection & Exhibit Inclusivity," Catherine O'Kelley


  • "'Gasp, Sigh, and Gaze Knowingly': Iconography and Psychoanalysis in the Art of Kara Walker," Madeline Ferguson
  • "Dating a Femme Fatale: Donatello's Judith and Holofernes and the Battle of Anghiari," Lindsey Hewitt
  • "No Strings Attached: Fernando Botero's Boy Playing Guitar in Context," Darcy L. Olmstead
  • "A Mat of Serpents: Aztec Strategies of Control from an Empire in Decline," Jerónimo Reyes


  • "The Structure of the Hood: Situating Abu Ghraib Within a History of Racialized Violence," Elliot Gilbert
  • "Brewing a Legacy in Copenhagen: How Carl Jacobsen Created Cultural Capital Through Art Education," Ali MacQueen
  • "Place and Rootedness: Sally Mann's Formative Years in Lexington, Virginia," Victoria Morgan
  • "Proactive Implementation of Judy Baca's The Great Wall of Los Angeles Methodologies in the Elementary Classroom," Katherine Reid


  • "If Walls Could Talk: A Case Study at Pompeii" Gabrielle Braxton
  • "The Atlantic Current: The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Virgin of los Remedios in Old and New Spain" Katherine Dau
  • "Chicago Surrealism: The Intersecting Roles of Art and Politics" Mia Harvey
  • "Res Publica and the Macy's on 34th Street" Sam Joseph
  • "Re-Imagined Elephants: ‘Authenticity, Authority, and Culture in Indian and South African Souvenirs" Kathryn Kalady Osowski
  • "The Other Painting: Understanding Francisco de Goya's The Second of May through Twenty-First Century Viewership" Mary Helen Powell
  • "Vox Clamantis in Deserto: Carthusian Experience in the Papal Chapel at Villeneuve" Aidan Valente
  • "Adriana Corral: Reimagining U.S. History and Creating Memory Along the U.S.-Mexico Border Through Unearthed: Desenterrado" Lucy Wolter


  • "The Symbiotic Relationship Between Klimt and the Jewish Bourgeoisie for the Development of Artistic Identity" Clotilde W.D. Cobbs (Honors Thesis)
  • "An Exploration into the Murals of the Gyantse gTsug-lag-khang and Their Relation to the Artistic Styles of the sKu-‘bum Stupa" Chase N. Leeby (Honors Thesis)
  • "The Mind of the Mad is his Own: The Exploitation of Adolf Wölfli's Art by the Surrealist and Art Brut Movements" Erin Duffy
  • "Daemonic Lens: A Battle Against Temptation within the Book of Kells" Ailyn M. Kelly
  • "Under Every Dark Skin was a Jungle:" Ruud Van Empel, Ideals of Beauty and the Colonial Gaze" Elizabeth C. Roos
  • "Mucha's Mistake: Implications of the Allegorical Woman as an Advertising Tool" Mamie E. Smith
  • "Pollock in Red: Clement Greenberg's Impact on Jackson Pollock's Legacy" Sarah B. Williamson


  • "Visualizing a Race and Documenting a Culture: Winold Reiss's Blackfeet Portraits from 1920 - 1928" (Honors Thesis) Peyton E. Bryant
  • "Vulnerability and Coyness: Raja Ravi Varma's Oil Paintings of the Female Nude in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries'" (Honors Thesis) Helen Clay
  • "A New Way of Looking: Iconography, Formalism and the Subversion of Allegory in Vermeer's The Art of Painting," (Honors Thesis) Arianna India Dial
  • "Trick Me in Love: A Study of Correggio's Loves of Jove," (Honors Thesis) Padget Sutherland
  • "Murayama Tomoyoshi and 'Constructivism': Life through the Prism of the Theater," (Honors Thesis) Kasiet Toktomusheva
  • "The Art of Lying, Cheating, and Stealing: Redefining Appropriation," Sonia Brozak
  • "Richard Prince's New Portraits: The Inevitable Curation of the Photograph," Sophie Epstien
  • "Cashing in on Culture: The Function of Corporate Art Collections," Cyrus Gaines Felfeli
  • "Reframing Cornell: A Formal(ist) Departure form Surrealism," Catherine Fonvielle
  • "Contemporary Depictions of Sexual Assault on American College Campuses: How Emma Sulkowicz and Violet Overn Identify Universities as Complicit Accomplices in Campus Rape," Camille LeJeune
  • "Context and Viewer Reception: Olafur Eliasson at the Château of Versailles," Emma Payne
  • "Art of the Tibetan Disenfranchised: An Analysis of Tenzing Rigdol's Collages," Allison Smith
  • "The Democratization of American Art: Horatio Greenough's George Washington and the Era of the Common Man," Dylan Thomas Stroud
  • "At the Forefront of Feminism: William Merritt Chase and the American New Woman," Sarah Wagner


  • "The Careful Crafting of a Utopia: Yves Klein and the Anthropometric Event of March 9, 1960," Sarah Bartlett
  • "The Power of Objects: An Exploration into the Work of Chiharu Chiota," Christina Cheadle
  • "A Climax of Bohemia: An Echo of Toulouse-Lautrec and Nonconformity," Natania Greenspan
  • "'Piping' in Jan Steen's As the Old Sing So Pipe the Young," Kendall Knoll
  • "Politicizing Rene Magritte's Vache Period," Laura Lemon
  • "Artemisia Gentileschi in London: Patronage and Political Propaganda," Ashley Little
  • "Pubic Hair, Public Outcry: Modigilani's Obscene Exhibition of 1917," Pauline Marting
  • "The State of Religion in Contemporary Art," Nathaniel Purdy
  • "China for the West: Ni Haifeng's Mediation of Identity Through Porcelain," Hannah Wilson
  • "Casta Painting: Spanish Power and Dutch Antecedents," Katlyn Wolfe


  • "Gonkar Gyatso: A Decolonialist Exploration if 'No Man's Land'," Victoria Andrews
  • "Contemporary Chinese Landscapes: Sociopolitical Criticisms that Bypass Government Censorship," Julia Arena
  • "Signs of Yuan Dynasty Imperialism in Tibet: Decoding the Fourteenth-Century painted Representations of Textiles at Shalu Monastery" Betsy Cribb
  • "We Warred Over Art: Pandemonium at Le Sacre du Printemps," Blair Davis
  • "'I believe only in the supreme reality of tradition': Salvador Dali's Return to Classical Religious Art in 1941" Suzanne Drennen
  • "The Personalization of Honoré Daumier's Les Gens de Justice and Its Cumulative Effect on Political Opinion Prior To the February 1848 Revolution in France," Caroline Hardin
  • "Beautiful Bodies: The Photography of Leni Riefenstahl," Kristina Johansson
  • "Edward Hopper and the Cinema," Colton Klein
  • "Pachakuti's Machu Pichu: Royal Estate and Ceremonial Center," Megan Shearer
  • "Gendered Spaces: The Role of Sex and Gender in College Residence Halls," Catherine Willett


  • "I Heard It Through the Grapevine: Revelry Scenes from Buddhist India," Ellen Archie
  • "The Palazzo del Tè: Mannerist Spectators in the Absence of Frames," Lauren Boone
  • "Art and Nationalism in Austria: The Use of Gustav Klimt's Work to Define Austrian National Identity During World War II and the Independent Republic of Austria," Ali Burner
  • "Issues of Authorship in the Collaborative East Village, Beijing: An Analysis of the Relationship between the Performer, Zhang Huan, and Photographer, Rong Rong," Cameron Dorsey
  • "Mark Chagall on the Cross: Trauma and Changeable Icons," Audrey Humleker
  • "The Social and Educative Qualities of the Great Wall of Los Angeles," Virginia McGarry
  • "Surrealism and Sacred Space: The Object and Sagrada Família's Architecture," Caroline Morgan
  • "The Land of the Stars: The Origin of Cy Twombly' Aesthetic," Sally Nexsen


  • "Fountains, Feet, Files, and Felt: An Exploration of the Duchamp-Morris Legacy," Gregory Barton
  • "The Democratization of Art: The Fusion of Art and Business in the Work of Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami," Victoria Burch
  • "Anne Boleyn and Hans Holbein, An Interaction that Determined the Face of English Court Portraiture," Parker Chambers
  • "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: An Examination of Rembrandt's Monumental Female Nudes as Storytelling Women," Katherine Cole
  • "Akbar's Painted Empire: Construction and Conquest in the Akbarnama," Emelia Curry
  • "The Stories Behind the Faces of Tibet: The Portraits of Tsewang Tashi and Nortse," Sirocco Hamada-Sweren.
  • "Using Caspar David Friedrich to Legitimize German Art in the Early Twentieth Century," Ann Marie Haynie
  • "How Paolo Veronese Combined Painting, Architecture, and Theater in Sixteenth-Century Venice," Leigh Kendrick
  • "The Unicorn Tapestries: More than Medieval Romance," Caroline Kingsbery
  • "Why Jasper Johns Chose Fall," Stephanie Krasnov
  • "Colliding Cultures at Chora Church," Kathryn Marsh-Soloway
  • "First and Lasting Impressions: A Tupinambá Magus in the Retábulo de Viseu (1502-1506)," Teresa Soley (Honors Thesis)
  • "The Instructional Purpose of Porcelain in Rococo Painting: Informing Good and Bad Behavior Through Dining and Gender Roles," Ellen Stauffer
  • "The Advent of the Poster Tradition in Post-Revolutionary Cuba," Katherine Trigg
  • "Finding Continuity and Harmony: Le Corbusier's Religious Commissions at Ronchamp and La Tourette," Yoon Min Um


  • "Mary Cassatt's Depictions of Mothers and Children 1893-1910," Ann R. Moore
  • "Dr. Claribel and Etta Cone: Independent and Groundbreaking Female Collectors," Laura W. Stephens
  • "The Art Students League of New York, Gertrude Whitney, and the Contemporary Art Culture of the United States," Emily F. Rigamer
  • "A Drop of Innovation Rippling Through the Traditional Current: Contemporary Raku Pottery," Anne H. Stevenson
  • "Images of the Bible: Alan Corwin's Collection on Jewish Art Including Theo Tobiasse, Ben Shahn, Sadao Watanabe, and March Chagall," (Honors Thesis) Christina I. Lawrence
  • "Destruction and Preservation: Tensions and Trends in Ai Weiwei's Art (2000-2010)," Rachel E. Denniston
  • "Reevaluating Peripheral Sources: The Impact of David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Celemente Orozco on Jackson Pollock," (Honors Thesis) John R. Wuestling


  • "Divine Intervention: Visionary Imagery and Authority at the Convent of San Domenico of Pisa," (Honors Thesis) Celeste Cruz-Carandang
  • "Accessing the Divine: Private Devotional Diptychs and Triptychs of Fifteenth-Century Flanders," (Honors Thesis) Blakeley Simpson
  • "Marital Artwork in 15th Century Florence: Marital Duties Depicted through Cassone Paintings of The Rape of the Sabine Women," Poppy Hall
  • "Finding Agency and Identity: Artistic Patronage by and for Eleonora of Toledo," Jean Chapman
  • "The General's House: The Lee House as Building, Home, and Shrine," (Honors Thesis) Christian Roden
  • "Vincent L. Bradford and his Painting Collection," (Honors Thesis) Lauren R. Sturdy
  • "From Lexington to the Luxembourg Gardens: An Artist Rediscovered," (Honors Thesis) Katie Gephart
  • "Picasso's Guernica and the Shift of Meaning," Merritt Poling
  • "Frida Kahlo: Creating Her Own Identity," Margaret Alden Denny
  • "Two Profiles of Southern Female Outsider Artists: Clementine Hunter and Sister Gertrude Morgan," Sarah Catherine Welch
  • "Cy Twombly: Lost in Translation," Mary Morgan Radcliff
  • "Critiques of a Strategist: Jean-Michel Basquiat," (Honors Thesis) Yasmine Espert


  • "Land, Women, and Power: The Bayeux Tapestry and the Secular Epic Tradition," (Honors Thesis) Jane Bouch
  • "Danae: Princess of Illicit Sex Culture in the Renaissance," Sarah Hardin-White
  • "French Culinary Still Life from 1850-1900: An Economic, Political, and Social Exploration," Carolyn Lee Adamik
  • "The Birth of the Modern Book: Re-reading Vollard's livres d'artistes," (Honors Thesis) Natalie Bunnell
  • "Multiple Solutions to the 'Problem of the Window': A Historiographic Approach to Réne Magritte's Painting-within-Paintings," (Honors Thesis) Molly Harrington
  • "Mussolini's 'Will to Empire'" The 1932 Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution (Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista) and Fascism's Colonization of Imperial Rome," Jessica Brenner
  • "Meditation in Art: A Common Thread between Abstract Expressionism and the Zenga Art of in Buddhism," Elizabeth Mann
  • "Leo Castelli and Ileana Sonnabend's Joint Control Over the 1960's Modern Art Market," Katie Dunphy
  • "The Blurred Boundaries of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Public Art," Jennifer Wright
  • "Art in the Wild(er)ness: Andy Goldsworthy's Art & the Green Movement," Garrott McCintock


  • "Food and Female Spirituality in The Tree of Life," Mary Katie Tabb
  • "Painted Propaganda: The Spanish Chapel," Allison Rigsbee
  • "Fra Angelico and Gradual 558," (Honors Thesis) Brittany Simpson
  • "Depictions of the Muslim 'Other' in the Art of the Venetian Scuole: A Study of the Relationship between Cinquecento Venice and the Ottoman Empire," (Honors Thesis) Mallory Ruymann
  • "Angelica Kauffman: A Woman Artist in an Age of Men," Catherine Hook
  • "The Effect of Haussmannization on the Notion of the Gaze and Motion in Impressionist Painting: Renoir, Degas, Caillebotte," Jennifer Jack
  • "Exploring the Response to Architectural Absolutes: A.J. Downing in Lexington, Virginia," Liza Morten
  • "The Lasting Impact of Building Contractors W.W. and Francis Coffey on the Community of Lexington, Virginia," Emily Wallace
  • "Cross-Dressing in the Portraits of Romaine Brooks: The Evolution Towards an Androgynous Female Identity," Saya Clancy
  • "Exploring a Pop Patron's Legacy: Redefining Robert C. Scull," Kasey Sherrick
  • "Sydney and Frances Lewis: The 'Best' Postmodern Patrons," Elizabeth Spears
  • "Banksy: A Redefinition of Graffiti," Laura Maurer


  • "Championing American Art in the 20th Century: The Lives and Businesses of Edith Gregor Halpert and Betty Parsons," Lizzy Appel
  • "The Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art: An Exploration of Americanism," Amanda Askew
  • "Breast Imagery During the French Revolution," Christina Michelle Bortner
  • "DeWitt Clinton's Immortals: The Meaning behind the Eight Immortals Motif on the Platter of an American Statesman," Kathryn Carmody
  • "In the Hands of the Oungans and Mambos: Haitian Identity Through Voudou Art," Megann Daw, 2008
  • "Cezanne's Use of Color and Space: A Historiography of Interpretations of the Mont Sainte-Victoire Series," Gregory Elkins
  • "The Nine Friends of Suzhou: A Study of Traditional Chinese Fan Painting from the Qing Dynasty in the Groke Mickey Collection at Washington and Lee University," Madeline Gent, Honors Thesis
  • "Leonora and Mexico: A Surreal Cultural Merger," Maureen Grant
  • "Lee Krasner: Casting Her Own Shadow," Emily Grimball
  • "The Career of Julian Schnabel as a Model of Cultural Production in Late Capitalism," Inslee Haynes
  • "The Borgia Apartments as Propaganda for Pope Alexander VI," Lisa Leonard
  • "Paul Poiret and the Ballet Russes: Changing the World of Art," Elizabeth Barret Matthews
  • "From Heracles to Superman: A Look at the Connection Between Ancient Greek and American Comic Book Superheroes," Colette Moryan
  • "Diane Arbus: In Private, Public and Perspective," Jacqueline Neilson
  • "Confronting the Chapman Brothers: A Postmodernist Question of Values" Marguerite S. Nugent, Gerard Doyon Award for Art Historical Writing
  • "Yoko Ono: Giving Performance Peace a Chance," Lauren Sapikowski, Honors Thesis
  • "Right Out of History and Back Again: The Journey of Judy Chicago's Dinner Party and the Feminist Movement," Caitlin Smith
  • "A Structuralist Pursuit of Meaning in the Works of Richard Diebenkorn, "Polly Smith
  • "For the Love of God! The Dualism of Damien Hirst in the Realm of Consumer Culture," Devin Wilkins