Studying baroque painting was picture perfect for Manganaro

Baroque painter Diego Velazquez inspiration for Honors project

September 30, 2009

While studying abroad, CeCe Mangano fulfilled a date with destiny when she toured the Prado in Madrid.Caroline 'CeCe' Manganaro recalls with awe the first time she stood in front of master baroque painter Diego Velazquez's painting Las Meninas. She was studying abroad in Barcelona and took a trip to the Prado in Madrid to see the painting. She describes the moment as surreal and says she was so excited that she almost waited -- wanting to savor the moment. Once there, she spent a long time looking at it. See, Manganaro has had this date with destiny since high school.

It was there that Manganaro first saw the painting in a Spanish class textbook. "I have always liked Spanish ...I like languages a lot, and I am really interested in art history," the Spanish and art history major says.

After seeing the painting in Madrid, Manganaro decided to do an Honors thesis about the painting. "The 17th century court portrait has a lot going on even thought it appears casual of everyday court life," Manganaro presumes.

"At the time, painting was not considered a liberal art but more of a craft," she says.

Beyond the appearances of the painting, Manganaro was more interested in the political issues and tension expressed in the painting. Early in her Knox career, Manganaro took a baroque art class with Greg Gilbert, associate professor of art. "Professor Gilbert talked a lot about the social issues of the time, and we discussed the many dimensions of what the artist was doing."

"I was so excited by all the political and theatrical issues that we as a class discussed. It was exciting to know that this is a place (Knox) that has responded to my energy, and I felt a part of that immediately," she says.

"Knox gives you a lot of personal opportunities. Opportunity to explore independent interests, and the campus has a stimulating and creative environment."

Living with her best five friends, Manganaro says the faculty, too, are fun, intellectual and thoughtful. "I like how you can drop by an advisors office and have a candid and thought provoking conversation."

Eventually, Manganaro plans on attending graduate school. But, for now, life is one big canvas. She hopes to intern at a museum or gallery. "I interned at the St. Louis Art Museum last year and it was a really good experience."

She is interested in modern and contemporary period art as well, but baroque fascinates her. "I could study it for a long time."