1st Student's Major


1st Student's College

Arts and Humanities

Students' Professional Biography

Eleanor Harper is a recent graduate of Minnesota State University-Mankato, having received her Bachelors Degree in the History of Art in May 2007. A Minnesota native, Eleanor spent her childhood on a small hobby farm, where she was home schooled by her parents until the age of 16. She spent the next two years at Normandale Community College, where a study-abroad excursion to Athens Greece inspired her to declare Art History as her primary course of study. At Minnesota State University-Mankato, Eleanor has had the privilege of studying Art History with her mentors Alisa Eimen and Curt Germundson. Aside from her interest in the history of art, Eleanor developed a strong passion for the German language, comparative religion, and experimenting with her own artwork. She was one of the founding members of the Minnesota State University Art History Round Table, and served as the President for the 2007 Spring Semester. Eleanor will be an intern in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Education Department for the summer of 2007 and plans to continue her study of Art History in graduate school. In the future, Eleanor hopes to utilize her interest and dedication to Art History by teaching others. Eleanor’s research project began taking shape after she was introduced to the work of artist/scholar David Hockney. His research on the practice of utilizing optical devices in painting prompted her to look closely at how specific visual elements have been affected by such instruments. Her project was made possible by an MSU Foundation Grant which enabled her to conduct primary research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Gallery in New York City.

Mentor's Name

Curt Germundson

Mentor's Email Address


Mentor's Department


Mentor's College

Arts and Humanities


At the height of his career, Baroque painter Michaelangelo de Mersi Caravaggio was revered for his ability to foster a heightened sense of realism never before seen upon the canvas. However as recent scholarship and a renewed interest in the history of artistic methodology reveal, the artist may have utilized optical devices such as a single lens to project reflections of his subjects upon the canvas. Due to the limitations of such devices, spatial discontinuity and unnatural proportion are just two of the discrepancies which have affected the realism and overall unity of his artwork. Caravaggio worked with naturalism in mind and therefore would have used the optical device as an aid in heightening the realism of his work. While certain aspects of his paintings such as facial expression and light remained raw and naturalistic, the overall unity of the works were compromised, consequentially creating fragmented spaces with subjects who were emotionally and physically disengaged from each other. These aspects can be attributed to the use of the lens, which was only capable of reflecting one figure at a time. Permeating Caravaggio's canvases these discrepancies also influenced his followers, the Caravaggisti. With noticeable visual elements recalling the effects of Caravaggio's optical device, his followers have adopted these discrepancies as stylistic traits within their paintings. This paper will examine Caravaggio's alleged use of optical devices and the subsequent effects which have impacted his followers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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