I just turned in my proposal for my Senior Thesis and having never done anything like this I am nervious about how I did. Therefore I am going to use this as a sounding board. My senior seminar class this semester is emphasized on Dutch Genre Paintings in the 17th century. I am focusing my thesis on a serious of paintings from this time in which a number of artists have painted images of paintings within their own paintings. Many historians have researched and theorized about the meaning of these paintings and the reasons for these Dutch artists to include them in their works. While I agree that some of these paintings-within-paintings present some interesting theories to explaining what the overall painting's meaning may be I don't think that all of them were meant to be intrepretted. Some historians take their theories and interpretations to far. Perhaps they were just paintings on the walls of these Dutch artist's world. It's like the wall labels in a museum that explain the meaning of an artwork that you are veiwing. While some may be a good intrepretation of the piece, sometimes it's worth ignoring the museums point of view so that you can enjoy the work for your self and make your own theories. My favorite example of this is a work by Johannes Vermeer: A woman holding a balance 1662. The painting behind this woman is of the Last Judgement, this has created theories that Vermeer meant for this piece to have a religious meaning as if the woman is weighing the ideals between good and bad.
So what do you think? Does any of this make sense? Clearly I still have a lot of research to do as I work out my arguement and try to bring in the arguements of others, but I think I have a basis for a good thesis. Even if you don't know much about Art history I would appreciate your thoughts, questions, or critique. Thanks all.