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Writing Essays in Art History

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These OWL resources provide guidance on typical genres with the art history discipline that may appear in professional settings or academic assignments, including museum catalog entries, museum title cards, art history analysis, notetaking, and art history exams.

Art History Analysis – Formal Analysis and Stylistic Analysis

Typically in an art history class the main essay students will need to write for a final paper or for an exam is a formal or stylistic analysis.

A formal analysis is just what it sounds like – you need to analyze the form of the artwork. This includes the individual design elements – composition, color, line, texture, scale, contrast, etc. Questions to consider in a formal analysis is how do all these elements come together to create this work of art? Think of formal analysis in relation to literature – authors give descriptions of characters or places through the written word. How does an artist convey this same information?

Organize your information and focus on each feature before moving onto the text – it is not ideal to discuss color and jump from line to then in the conclusion discuss color again. First summarize the overall appearance of the work of art – is this a painting? Does the artist use only dark colors? Why heavy brushstrokes? etc and then discuss details of the object – this specific animal is gray, the sky is missing a moon, etc. Again, it is best to be organized and focused in your writing – if you discuss the animals and then the individuals and go back to the animals you run the risk of making your writing unorganized and hard to read. It is also ideal to discuss the focal of the piece – what is in the center? What stands out the most in the piece or takes up most of the composition?

A stylistic approach can be described as an indicator of unique characteristics that analyzes and uses the formal elements (2-D: Line, color, value, shape and 3-D all of those and mass).The point of style is to see all the commonalities in a person’s works, such as the use of paint and brush strokes in Van Gogh’s work. Style can distinguish an artist’s work from others and within their own timeline, geographical regions, etc.

Methods & Theories To Consider:




Social Art History

Biographical Approach


Museum Studies

Visual Cultural Studies

Stylistic Analysis Example:

The following is a brief stylistic analysis of two Greek statues, an example of how style has changed because of the “essence of the age.” Over the years, sculptures of women started off as being plain and fully clothed with no distinct features, to the beautiful Venus/Aphrodite figures most people recognize today. In the mid-seventh century to the early fifth, life-sized standing marble statues of young women, often elaborately dress in gaily painted garments were created known as korai. The earliest korai is a Naxian women to Artemis. The statue wears a tight-fitted, belted peplos, giving the body a very plain look. The earliest korai wore the simpler Dorian peplos, which was a heavy woolen garment. From about 530, most wear a thinner, more elaborate, and brightly painted Ionic linen and himation. A largely contrasting Greek statue to the korai is the Venus de Milo. The Venus from head to toe is six feet seven inches tall. Her hips suggest that she has had several children. Though her body shows to be heavy, she still seems to almost be weightless. Viewing the Venus de Milo, she changes from side to side. From her right side she seems almost like a pillar and her leg bears most of the weight. She seems be firmly planted into the earth, and since she is looking at the left, her big features such as her waist define her. The Venus de Milo had a band around her right bicep. She had earrings that were brutally stolen, ripping her ears away. Venus was noted for loving necklaces, so it is very possibly she would have had one. It is also possible she had a tiara and bracelets. Venus was normally defined as “golden,” so her hair would have been painted. Two statues in the same region, have throughout history, changed in their style.

Compare and Contrast Essay

Most introductory art history classes will ask students to write a compare and contrast essay about two pieces – examples include comparing and contrasting a medieval to a renaissance painting. It is always best to start with smaller comparisons between the two works of art such as the medium of the piece. Then the comparison can include attention to detail so use of color, subject matter, or iconography. Do the same for contrasting the two pieces – start small. After the foundation is set move on to the analysis and what these comparisons or contrasting material mean – ‘what is the bigger picture here?’ Consider why one artist would wish to show the same subject matter in a different way, how, when, etc are all questions to ask in the compare and contrast essay. If during an exam it would be best to quickly outline the points to make before tackling writing the essay.

Compare and Contrast Example:

Stele of Hammurabi from Susa (modern Shush, Iran), ca. 1792 – 1750 BCE, Basalt, height of stele approx. 7’ height of relief 28’

Stele, relief sculpture, Art as propaganda – Hammurabi shows that his law code is approved by the gods, depiction of land in background, Hammurabi on the same place of importance as the god, etc.

Top of this stele shows the relief image of Hammurabi receiving the law code from Shamash, god of justice, Code of Babylonian social law, only two figures shown, different area and time period, etc.

Stele of Naram-sin , Sippar Found at Susa c. 2220 - 2184 bce. Limestone, height 6'6"

Stele, relief sculpture, Example of propaganda because the ruler (like the Stele of Hammurabi) shows his power through divine authority, Naramsin is the main character due to his large size, depiction of land in background, etc.

Akkadian art, made of limestone, the stele commemorates a victory of Naramsin, multiple figures are shown specifically soldiers, different area and time period, etc.


Regardless of what essay approach you take in class it is absolutely necessary to understand how to analyze the iconography of a work of art and to incorporate into your paper. Iconography is defined as subject matter, what the image means. For example, why do things such as a small dog in a painting in early Northern Renaissance paintings represent sexuality? Additionally, how can an individual perhaps identify these motifs that keep coming up?

The following is a list of symbols and their meaning in Marriage a la Mode by William Hogarth (1743) that is a series of six paintings that show the story of marriage in Hogarth’s eyes.

  • Man has pockets turned out symbolizing he has lost money and was recently in a fight by the state of his clothes.
  • Lap dog shows loyalty but sniffs at woman’s hat in the husband’s pocket showing sexual exploits.
  • Black dot on husband’s neck believed to be symbol of syphilis.
  • Mantel full of ugly Chinese porcelain statues symbolizing that the couple has no class.
  • Butler had to go pay bills, you can tell this by the distasteful look on his face and that his pockets are stuffed with bills and papers.
  • Card game just finished up, women has directions to game under foot, shows her easily cheating nature.
  • Paintings of saints line a wall of the background room, isolated from the living, shows the couple’s complete disregard to faith and religion.
  • The dangers of sexual excess are underscored in the Hograth by placing Cupid among ruins, foreshadowing the inevitable ruin of the marriage.
  • Eventually the series (other five paintings) shows that the woman has an affair, the men duel and die, the woman hangs herself and the father takes her ring off her finger symbolizing the one thing he could salvage from the marriage.

The Writing Place

Resources – how to write an art history paper, introduction to the topic.

There are many different types of assignments you might be asked to do in an art history class. The most common are a formal analysis and a stylistic analysis. Stylistic analyses often involve offering a comparison between two different works. One of the challenges of art history writing is that it requires a vocabulary to describe what you see when you look at a painting, drawing, sculpture or other media. This checklist is designed to explore questions that will help you write these types of art history papers.

Features of An Art History Analysis Paper

Features of a formal analysis paper.

This type of paper involves looking at compositional elements of an object such as color, line, medium, scale, and texture. The goal of this kind of assignment it to demonstrate how these elements work together to produce the whole art object. When writing a formal analysis, ask yourself:

  • What is the first element of the work that the audience’s eye captures?
  • What materials were used to create the object?
  • What colors and textures did the artist employ?
  • How do these function together to give the object its overall aesthetic look?

Tips on Formal Analysis

  • Describe the piece as if your audience has not seen it.
  • Be detailed.
  • The primary focus should be on description rather than interpretation.

Features of a Stylistic / Comparative Analysis

Similar to a formal analysis, a stylistic analysis asks you to discuss a work in relation to its stylistic period (Impressionism, Fauvism, High Renaissance, etc.). These papers often involve a comparative element (such as comparing a statue from Early Antiquity to Late Antiquity). When writing a stylistic analysis, ask yourself:

  • How does this work fit the style of its historical period? How does it depart from the typical style?
  • What is the social and historical context of the work? When was it completed?
  • Who was the artist? Who commissioned it? What does it depict?
  • How is this work different from other works of the same subject matter?
  • How have the conventions (formal elements) for this type of work changed over time?

Tips for Stylistic and Comparative Analysis

  • In a comparison, make a list of similarities and differences between the two works. Try to establish what changes in the art world may account for the differences.
  • Integrate discussions of formal elements into your stylistic analysis.
  • This type of paper can involve more interpretation than a basic formal analysis.
  • Focus on context and larger trends in art history.

A Quick Practice Exercise...

Practice - what is wrong with these sentences.

The key to writing a good art history paper involves relating the formal elements of a piece to its historical context.  Can you spot the errors in these sentences? What would make the sentences better?

  • “Courbet’s The Stone Breakers  is a good painting because he uses texture.”
  • “Duchamp’s work is in the Dada style while Dali’s is Surrealist.”
  • “Pope Julius II commissioned the work.”
  • “Gauguin uses color to draw in the viewer’s eye.”

Answers for Practice Sentences

  • Better: “Courbet’s  The Stone Breakers  is a radical painting because the artist used a palette knife to create a rough texture on the surface.”
  • Better: “The use of everyday objects in Duchamp’s work reflects the Dada style while Dali’s incorporation of absurd images into his work demonstrates a Surrealist style.”
  • Better: “In 1505, Pope Julius II commissioned the sculpture for his tomb.”
  • Better: “The first element a viewer notices is the bold blue of the sky in Gauguin’s painting.”

Adapted by Ann Bruton, with the help of Isaac Alpert, From:

The Writing Center at UNC Handouts ( http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/art-history/ )

The Writing Center at Hamilton College ( http://www.hamilton.edu/writing/writing-resources/writing-an-art-history-paper ) 

Click here to return to the “Writing Place Resources” main page.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Art History

What this handout is about.

This handout discusses a few common assignments found in art history courses. To help you better understand those assignments, this handout highlights key strategies for approaching and analyzing visual materials.

Writing in art history

Evaluating and writing about visual material uses many of the same analytical skills that you have learned from other fields, such as history or literature. In art history, however, you will be asked to gather your evidence from close observations of objects or images. Beyond painting, photography, and sculpture, you may be asked to write about posters, illustrations, coins, and other materials.

Even though art historians study a wide range of materials, there are a few prevalent assignments that show up throughout the field. Some of these assignments (and the writing strategies used to tackle them) are also used in other disciplines. In fact, you may use some of the approaches below to write about visual sources in classics, anthropology, and religious studies, to name a few examples.

This handout describes three basic assignment types and explains how you might approach writing for your art history class.Your assignment prompt can often be an important step in understanding your course’s approach to visual materials and meeting its specific expectations. Start by reading the prompt carefully, and see our handout on understanding assignments for some tips and tricks.

Three types of assignments are discussed below:

  • Visual analysis essays
  • Comparison essays
  • Research papers

1. Visual analysis essays

Visual analysis essays often consist of two components. First, they include a thorough description of the selected object or image based on your observations. This description will serve as your “evidence” moving forward. Second, they include an interpretation or argument that is built on and defended by this visual evidence.

Formal analysis is one of the primary ways to develop your observations. Performing a formal analysis requires describing the “formal” qualities of the object or image that you are describing (“formal” here means “related to the form of the image,” not “fancy” or “please, wear a tuxedo”). Formal elements include everything from the overall composition to the use of line, color, and shape. This process often involves careful observations and critical questions about what you see.

Pre-writing: observations and note-taking

To assist you in this process, the chart below categorizes some of the most common formal elements. It also provides a few questions to get you thinking.

Let’s try this out with an example. You’ve been asked to write a formal analysis of the painting, George Morland’s Pigs and Piglets in a Sty , ca. 1800 (created in Britain and now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond).

An oil painting of two pigs with piglets in a sty.

What do you notice when you see this image? First, you might observe that this is a painting. Next, you might ask yourself some of the following questions: what kind of paint was used, and what was it painted on? How has the artist applied the paint? What does the scene depict, and what kinds of figures (an art-historical term that generally refers to humans) or animals are present? What makes these animals similar or different? How are they arranged? What colors are used in this painting? Are there any colors that pop out or contrast with the others? What might the artist have been trying to accomplish by adding certain details?

What other questions come to mind while examining this work? What kinds of topics come up in class when you discuss paintings like this one? Consider using your class experiences as a model for your own description! This process can be lengthy, so expect to spend some time observing the artwork and brainstorming.

Here is an example of some of the notes one might take while viewing Morland’s Pigs and Piglets in a Sty :


  • The animals, four pigs total, form a gently sloping mound in the center of the painting.
  • The upward mound of animals contrasts with the downward curve of the wooden fence.
  • The gentle light, coming from the upper-left corner, emphasizes the animals in the center. The rest of the scene is more dimly lit.
  • The composition is asymmetrical but balanced. The fence is balanced by the bush on the right side of the painting, and the sow with piglets is balanced by the pig whose head rests in the trough.
  • Throughout the composition, the colors are generally muted and rather limited. Yellows, greens, and pinks dominate the foreground, with dull browns and blues in the background.
  • Cool colors appear in the background, and warm colors appear in the foreground, which makes the foreground more prominent.
  • Large areas of white with occasional touches of soft pink focus attention on the pigs.
  • The paint is applied very loosely, meaning the brushstrokes don’t describe objects with exact details but instead suggest them with broad gestures.
  • The ground has few details and appears almost abstract.
  • The piglets emerge from a series of broad, almost indistinct, circular strokes.
  • The painting contrasts angular lines and rectangles (some vertical, some diagonal) with the circular forms of the pig.
  • The negative space created from the intersection of the fence and the bush forms a wide, inverted triangle that points downward. The point directs viewers’ attention back to the pigs.

Because these observations can be difficult to notice by simply looking at a painting, art history instructors sometimes encourage students to sketch the work that they’re describing. The image below shows how a sketch can reveal important details about the composition and shapes.

An oil painting of two pigs with piglets in a sty demarcating large compositional elements in different colors.

Writing: developing an interpretation

Once you have your descriptive information ready, you can begin to think critically about what the information in your notes might imply. What are the effects of the formal elements? How do these elements influence your interpretation of the object?

Your interpretation does not need to be earth-shatteringly innovative, but it should put forward an argument with which someone else could reasonably disagree. In other words, you should work on developing a strong analytical thesis about the meaning, significance, or effect of the visual material that you’ve described. For more help in crafting a strong argument, see our Thesis Statements handout .

For example, based on the notes above, you might draft the following thesis statement:

In Morland’s Pigs and Piglets in a Sty, the close proximity of the pigs to each other–evident in the way Morland has overlapped the pigs’ bodies and grouped them together into a gently sloping mound–and the soft atmosphere that surrounds them hints at the tranquility of their humble farm lives.

Or, you could make an argument about one specific formal element:

In Morland’s Pigs and Piglets in a Sty, the sharp contrast between rectilinear, often vertical, shapes and circular masses focuses viewers’ attention on the pigs, who seem undisturbed by their enclosure.

Support your claims

Your thesis statement should be defended by directly referencing the formal elements of the artwork. Try writing with enough specificity that someone who has not seen the work could imagine what it looks like. If you are struggling to find a certain term, try using this online art dictionary: Tate’s Glossary of Art Terms .

Your body paragraphs should explain how the elements work together to create an overall effect. Avoid listing the elements. Instead, explain how they support your analysis.

As an example, the following body paragraph illustrates this process using Morland’s painting:

Morland achieves tranquility not only by grouping animals closely but also by using light and shadow carefully. Light streams into the foreground through an overcast sky, in effect dappling the pigs and the greenery that encircles them while cloaking much of the surrounding scene. Diffuse and soft, the light creates gentle gradations of tone across pigs’ bodies rather than sharp contrasts of highlights and shadows. By modulating the light in such subtle ways, Morland evokes a quiet, even contemplative mood that matches the restful faces of the napping pigs.

This example paragraph follows the 5-step process outlined in our handout on paragraphs . The paragraph begins by stating the main idea, in this case that the artist creates a tranquil scene through the use of light and shadow. The following two sentences provide evidence for that idea. Because art historians value sophisticated descriptions, these sentences include evocative verbs (e.g., “streams,” “dappling,” “encircles”) and adjectives (e.g., “overcast,” “diffuse,” “sharp”) to create a mental picture of the artwork in readers’ minds. The last sentence ties these observations together to make a larger point about the relationship between formal elements and subject matter.

There are usually different arguments that you could make by looking at the same image. You might even find a way to combine these statements!

Remember, however you interpret the visual material (for example, that the shapes draw viewers’ attention to the pigs), the interpretation needs to be logically supported by an observation (the contrast between rectangular and circular shapes). Once you have an argument, consider the significance of these statements. Why does it matter if this painting hints at the tranquility of farm life? Why might the artist have tried to achieve this effect? Briefly discussing why these arguments matter in your thesis can help readers understand the overall significance of your claims. This step may even lead you to delve deeper into recurring themes or topics from class.

Tread lightly

Avoid generalizing about art as a whole, and be cautious about making claims that sound like universal truths. If you find yourself about to say something like “across cultures, blue symbolizes despair,” pause to consider the statement. Would all people, everywhere, from the beginning of human history to the present agree? How do you know? If you find yourself stating that “art has meaning,” consider how you could explain what you see as the specific meaning of the artwork.

Double-check your prompt. Do you need secondary sources to write your paper? Most visual analysis essays in art history will not require secondary sources to write the paper. Rely instead on your close observation of the image or object to inform your analysis and use your knowledge from class to support your argument. Are you being asked to use the same methods to analyze objects as you would for paintings? Be sure to follow the approaches discussed in class.

Some classes may use “description,” “formal analysis” and “visual analysis” as synonyms, but others will not. Typically, a visual analysis essay may ask you to consider how form relates to the social, economic, or political context in which these visual materials were made or exhibited, whereas a formal analysis essay may ask you to make an argument solely about form itself. If your prompt does ask you to consider contextual aspects, and you don’t feel like you can address them based on knowledge from the course, consider reading the section on research papers for further guidance.

2. Comparison essays

Comparison essays often require you to follow the same general process outlined in the preceding sections. The primary difference, of course, is that they ask you to deal with more than one visual source. These assignments usually focus on how the formal elements of two artworks compare and contrast with each other. Resist the urge to turn the essay into a list of similarities and differences.

Comparison essays differ in another important way. Because they typically ask you to connect the visual materials in some way or to explain the significance of the comparison itself, they may require that you comment on the context in which the art was created or displayed.

For example, you might have been asked to write a comparative analysis of the painting discussed in the previous section, George Morland’s Pigs and Piglets in a Sty (ca. 1800), and an unknown Vicús artist’s Bottle in the Form of a Pig (ca. 200 BCE–600 CE). Both works are illustrated below.

An oil painting of two pigs with piglets in a sty for comparison with the image of a bottle in the form of a pig.

You can begin this kind of essay with the same process of observations and note-taking outlined above for formal analysis essays. Consider using the same questions and categories to get yourself started.

Here are some questions you might ask:

  • What techniques were used to create these objects?
  • How does the use of color in these two works compare? Is it similar or different?
  • What can you say about the composition of the sculpture? How does the artist treat certain formal elements, for example geometry? How do these elements compare to and contrast with those found in the painting?
  • How do these works represent their subjects? Are they naturalistic or abstract? How do these artists create these effects? Why do these similarities and differences matter?

As our handout on comparing and contrasting suggests, you can organize these thoughts into a Venn diagram or a chart to help keep the answers to these questions distinct.

For example, some notes on these two artworks have been organized into a chart:

As you determine points of comparison, think about the themes that you have discussed in class. You might consider whether the artworks display similar topics or themes. If both artworks include the same subject matter, for example, how does that similarity contribute to the significance of the comparison? How do these artworks relate to the periods or cultures in which they were produced, and what do those relationships suggest about the comparison? The answers to these questions can typically be informed by your knowledge from class lectures. How have your instructors framed the introduction of individual works in class? What aspects of society or culture have they emphasized to explain why specific formal elements were included or excluded? Once you answer your questions, you might notice that some observations are more important than others.

Writing: developing an interpretation that considers both sources

When drafting your thesis, go beyond simply stating your topic. A statement that says “these representations of pig-like animals have some similarities and differences” doesn’t tell your reader what you will argue in your essay.

To say more, based on the notes in the chart above, you might write the following thesis statement:

Although both artworks depict pig-like animals, they rely on different methods of representing the natural world.

Now you have a place to start. Next, you can say more about your analysis. Ask yourself: “so what?” Why does it matter that these two artworks depict pig-like animals? You might want to return to your class notes at this point. Why did your instructor have you analyze these two works in particular? How does the comparison relate to what you have already discussed in class? Remember, comparison essays will typically ask you to think beyond formal analysis.

While the comparison of a similar subject matter (pig-like animals) may influence your initial argument, you may find that other points of comparison (e.g., the context in which the objects were displayed) allow you to more fully address the matter of significance. Thinking about the comparison in this way, you can write a more complex thesis that answers the “so what?” question. If your class has discussed how artists use animals to comment on their social context, for example, you might explore the symbolic importance of these pig-like animals in nineteenth-century British culture and in first-millenium Vicús culture. What political, social, or religious meanings could these objects have generated? If you find yourself needing to do outside research, look over the final section on research papers below!

Supporting paragraphs

The rest of your comparison essay should address the points raised in your thesis in an organized manner. While you could try several approaches, the two most common organizational tactics are discussing the material “subject-by-subject” and “point-by-point.”

  • Subject-by-subject: Organizing the body of the paper in this way involves writing everything that you want to say about Moreland’s painting first (in a series of paragraphs) before moving on to everything about the ceramic bottle (in a series of paragraphs). Using our example, after the introduction, you could include a paragraph that discusses the positioning of the animals in Moreland’s painting, another paragraph that describes the depiction of the pigs’ surroundings, and a third explaining the role of geometry in forming the animals. You would then follow this discussion with paragraphs focused on the same topics, in the same order, for the ancient South American vessel. You could then follow this discussion with a paragraph that synthesizes all of the information and explores the significance of the comparison.
  • Point-by-point: This strategy, in contrast, involves discussing a single point of comparison or contrast for both objects at the same time. For example, in a single paragraph, you could examine the use of color in both of our examples. Your next paragraph could move on to the differences in the figures’ setting or background (or lack thereof).

As our use of “pig-like” in this section indicates, titles can be misleading. Many titles are assigned by curators and collectors, in some cases years after the object was produced. While the ceramic vessel is titled Bottle in the Form of a Pig , the date and location suggest it may depict a peccary, a pig-like species indigenous to Peru. As you gather information about your objects, think critically about things like titles and dates. Who assigned the title of the work? If it was someone other than the artist, why might they have given it that title? Don’t always take information like titles and dates at face value.

Be cautious about considering contextual elements not immediately apparent from viewing the objects themselves unless you are explicitly asked to do so (try referring back to the prompt or assignment description; it will often describe the expectation of outside research). You may be able to note that the artworks were created during different periods, in different places, with different functions. Even so, avoid making broad assumptions based on those observations. While commenting on these topics may only require some inference or notes from class, if your argument demands a large amount of outside research, you may be writing a different kind of paper. If so, check out the next section!

3. Research papers

Some assignments in art history ask you to do outside research (i.e., beyond both formal analysis and lecture materials). These writing assignments may ask you to contextualize the visual materials that you are discussing, or they may ask you to explore your material through certain theoretical approaches. More specifically, you may be asked to look at the object’s relationship to ideas about identity, politics, culture, and artistic production during the period in which the work was made or displayed. All of these factors require you to synthesize scholars’ arguments about the materials that you are analyzing. In many cases, you may find little to no research on your specific object. When facing this situation, consider how you can apply scholars’ insights about related materials and the period broadly to your object to form an argument. While we cannot cover all the possibilities here, we’ll highlight a few factors that your instructor may task you with investigating.


Papers that ask you to consider iconography may require research on the symbolic role or significance of particular symbols (gestures, objects, etc.). For example, you may need to do some research to understand how pig-like animals are typically represented by the cultural group that made this bottle, the Vicús culture. For the same paper, you would likely research other symbols, notably the bird that forms part of the bottle’s handle, to understand how they relate to one another. This process may involve figuring out how these elements are presented in other artworks and what they mean more broadly.

Artistic style and stylistic period

You may also be asked to compare your object or painting to a particular stylistic category. To determine the typical traits of a style, you may need to hit the library. For example, which period style or stylistic trend does Moreland’s Pigs and Piglets in a Sty belong to? How well does the piece “fit” that particular style? Especially for works that depict the same or similar topics, how might their different styles affect your interpretation? Assignments that ask you to consider style as a factor may require that you do some research on larger historical or cultural trends that influenced the development of a particular style.

Provenance research asks you to find out about the “life” of the object itself. This research can include the circumstances surrounding the work’s production and its later ownership. For the two works discussed in this handout, you might research where these objects were originally displayed and how they ended up in the museum collections in which they now reside. What kind of argument could you develop with this information? For example, you might begin by considering that many bottles and jars resembling the Bottle in the Form of a Pig can be found in various collections of Pre-Columbian art around the world. Where do these objects originate? Do they come from the same community or region?

Patronage study

Prompts that ask you to discuss patronage might ask you to think about how, when, where, and why the patron (the person who commissions or buys the artwork or who supports the artist) acquired the object from the artist. The assignment may ask you to comment on the artist-patron relationship, how the work fit into a broader series of commissions, and why patrons chose particular artists or even particular subjects.

Additional resources

To look up recent articles, ask your librarian about the Art Index, RILA, BHA, and Avery Index. Check out www.lib.unc.edu/art/index.html for further information!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Adams, Laurie Schneider. 2003. Looking at Art . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Barnet, Sylvan. 2015. A Short Guide to Writing about Art , 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Tate Galleries. n.d. “Art Terms.” Accessed November 1, 2020. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Art History Writing Guide

I. Introduction II. Writing Assignments III. Discipline-Specific Strategies IV. Keep in Mind V. Appendix


At the heart of every art history paper is a close visual analysis of at least one work of art. In art history you are building an argument about something visual. Depending on the assignment, this analysis may be the basis for an assignment or incorporated into a paper as support to contextualize an argument. To guide students in how to write an art history paper, the Art History Department suggests that you begin with a visual observation that leads to the development of an interpretive thesis/argument. The writing uses visual observations as evidence to support an argument about the art that is being analyzed.

Writing Assignments

You will be expected to write several different kinds of art history papers. They include:

  • Close Visual Analysis Essays
  • Close Visual Analysis in dialogue with scholarly essays
  • Research Papers

Close Visual Analysis pieces are the most commonly written papers in an introductory art history course. You will have to look at a work of art and analyze it in its entirety. The analysis and discussion should provide a clearly articulated interpretation of the object. Your argument for this paper should be backed up with careful description and analysis of the visual evidence that led you to your conclusion.

Close Visual Analysis in dialogue with scholarly essays combines formal analysis with close textual analysis.

Research papers range from theoretic studies to critical histories. Based on library research, students are asked to synthesize analyses of the scholarship in relation to the work upon which it is based.

Discipline-Specific Strategies

As with all writing assignment, a close visual analysis is a process. The work you do before you actually start writing can be just as important as what you consider when writing up your analysis.

Conducting the analysis :

  • Ask questions as you are studying the artwork. Consider, for example, how does each element of the artwork contribute to the work's overall meaning. How do you know? How do elements relate to each other? What effect is produced by their juxtaposition
  • Use the criteria provided by your professor to complete your analysis. This criteria may include forms, space, composition, line, color, light, texture, physical characteristics, and expressive content.

Writing the analysis:

  • Develop a strong interpretive thesis about what you think is the overall effect or meaning of the image.
  • Ground your argument in direct and specific references to the work of art itself.
  • Describe the image in specific terms and with the criteria that you used for the analysis. For example, a stray diagonal from the upper left corner leads the eye to...
  • Create an introduction that sets the stage for your paper by briefly describing the image you are analyzing and by stating your thesis.
  • Explain how the elements work together to create an overall effect. Try not to just list the elements, but rather explain how they lead to or support your analysis.
  • Contextualize the image within a historical and cultural framework only when required for an assignment. Some assignments actually prefer that you do not do this. Remember not to rely on secondary sources for formal analysis. The goal is to see what in the image led to your analysis; therefore, you will not need secondary sources in this analysis. Be certain to show how each detail supports your argument.
  • Include only the elements needed to explain and support your analysis. You do not need to include everything you saw since this excess information may detract from your main argument.

Keep in Mind

  • An art history paper has an argument that needs to be supported with elements from the image being analyzed.
  • Avoid making grand claims. For example, saying "The artist wanted..." is different from "The warm palette evokes..." The first phrasing necessitates proof of the artist's intent, as opposed to the effect of the image.
  • Make sure that your paper isn't just description. You should choose details that illustrate your central ideas and further the purpose of your paper.

If you find you are still having trouble writing your art history paper, please speak to your professor, and feel free to make an appointment at the Writing Center. For further reading, see Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing about Art , 5th edition.

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Ap art history.

This course can help prepare students who wish to continue their art education after high school, as well as students who wish to perform exceptionally well on the SAT exam. The level of aptitude in this subject will assist students wishing to excel on the SAT and in college courses. While there is no formal prerequisite for an AP Art History class, students should have a basic understanding of art terms. Students would also benefit from taking more basic art courses such as Art I or any art classes requiring studio time.

The Art History AP course is designed to allow students to examine major forms of artistic expression relevant to a variety of cultures evident in wide variety of periods from present times into the past. In this course, students acquire an ability to examine works of art critically, with intelligence and sensitivity, and to articulate their thoughts and experiences. The main focus is on European Art, but the course does deal with African, Hindu, South and East Asian, and Muslim Art. Pre-Historic art has now been removed from the curriculum. 

College art courses vary in their approach to interpreting art. They often include selections of chronological frameworks, themes, and an emphasis on analytical skills. These courses are carefully monitored by the AP Development Committee in order to ensure that the exam is compatible with the AP Art History Exam. These courses are typically very regulated courses, which ensures that students across the country are receiving similar educations and are not subject to the artistic preferences of different teachers.

AP Art History is a serious course and includes many course goals. According to the College Board’s website, by the time students take their AP Art History exam (or the SAT exam) they should be prepared with:

  • The ability to apply basic art and art history terminology and tools.
  • An appreciation for the artistic process as well as the importance of how art is displayed.
  • A knowledge of different types of art from prehistoric art, to Medieval art, to Expressionist and Modern art. Students will come to develop their own understanding of what makes art “good” or classic.”
  • An understanding of art’s purpose and function throughout history and in today’s society.
  • The ability to understand and analyze works of art in context of historical evidence and interpretation. They will e able to examine issues such as politics, religion, ethnicity, patronage, and gender.
  • An understanding of the cross-cultural and global nature of art.
  • The ability to perform higher thinking skills and articulate visual and art historical concepts in verbal and written forms.
  • Use study notes and other basic study techniques in conjunction with textbooks such as Smarthistory and Gardner’s Art Through the Ages.

Students that take AP Art History should expect to cover art and art history as follows:

  • 40-50% coursework on painting and drawing
  • 25% coursework on architecture and design
  • 25% coursework on various forms of sculpture
  • 5-10% coursework on other media such as printmaking, photography, ceramics, fiber arts, and others.

The AP Art History exam will cover these areas of study in proportion to how much time is spent covering them over the course of the class.

Students considering taking AP Calculus or any other Advanced Placement course should recognize that taking these classes requires a commitment of both time and energy on the part of the student. Students that commit themselves to their coursework will see a definite payoff in both their SAT exam scores as well as their college preparedness.

Students that wish to get accepted into prestigious or highly-selective schools should seriously consider taking AP courses since they not only look excellent on high school transcripts, but they can also give students an inside look at college courses before they even take them. They can earn college credit while still in high school, saving valuable time and money in the process. They will also help students develop the skills they need to succeed in the sometimes high-pressure college atmosphere, and give students valuable knowledge that they can use both in college and beyond their schooling. 

Here you will find AP Art History outlines. We are working to add more AP Art History resources such as unit notes, topic notes, study questions, and practice quizzes.

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art history essay outline

Visual Analysis Essay

Barbara P

Visual Analysis Essay - A Writing Guide with Format & Sample

14 min read

Published on: Feb 1, 2020

Last updated on: Nov 24, 2023

Visual Analysis Essay

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A visual analysis essay is a common assignment for the students of history, art, and communications. It is quite a unique type of academic essay. 

Visual analysis essays are where images meet text. These essays aim to analyze the meanings embedded in the artworks, explaining visual concepts in a written form. 

It may sound difficult to write a visual analysis essay, but it can be done in simple steps by following the right approach. Let’s dive into the writing steps, tips, example essays, and potential topics to help you write an excellent essay. 

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What is a Visual Analysis Essay

A visual analysis essay basically requires you to provide a detailed description of a specific visual work of art. It is a type of analytical essay that deals with imagery and visual art instead of texts.

The subject of a visual analysis essay could be an image, painting, photograph, or any visual medium. 

In this type of essay, you need to describe the artwork and analyze its elements in detail. That is, how different elements and features fit together to make the whole work stand out. In this sense, you need to use a mixture of descriptive writing and analytical language. 

To write a good visual analysis essay, you need to know the basic visual elements and principles of design. Let’s learn about these concepts first before diving into the writing steps.

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Visual Elements for a Visual Analysis Essay

Writing a visual analysis essay involves analyzing the visual elements of a piece of art. These elements form the basis of the features and characteristics of an image. 

Below you can find the common visual elements of a visual analysis essay.

Principles of Design in a Visual Analysis Essay

In addition to visual elements, you must also consider the principles of design for writing a great visual analysis essay. These principles help you identify and explain the characteristics of the image. 

How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay - 7 Simple Steps

Now that you have an idea about visual elements and principles, you are now ready to proceed. 

Here are the steps that you need to follow for writing a visual analysis essay. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Step 1 - Gather General Information About the Artwork

Once you have a specific artwork or image, here is how to start a visual analysis essay. You need to ask some basic questions about the work and jot down your ideas.

This pre-writing step is for brainstorming ideas. Ask these questions to begin:

  • Who and what does the artwork represent? 
  • Who is the author of the piece? 
  • Who did the artist create the work for? Who is the intended audience?
  • When and where was the work created? What is its historical context?
  • Where was this work displayed for the first time?
  • Identify which medium, materials, and techniques were used to create the image?

Step 2 - Note Down the Characteristics of the Artwork

The next thing that you need to do is identify what the image depicts. Moreover, you need to identify and describe the visual art elements and design principles used in the work. 

Here’s what you need to note:

  • The subject matter and its representation.
  • Colors, shapes, and lines used in the composition.
  • The balance, proportion, and harmony within the artwork.
  • Any symbolism or metaphors present.

By pointing out such characteristics, you set the stage for a nuanced analysis in your essay.

Step 3 - Visual Analysis Essay Outline 

Once you have gathered your main points by carefully studying the image, you should now organize them in an outline.

Here is how you make an outline for your visual analysis essay:

Step 4- Write the Introduction

This is the first paragraph of a visual analysis essay in which you need to provide some background information on the topic. After grabbing the readers’ attention with an interesting fact, briefly provide information on the following points. 

  • Talk briefly about the painting and its artist or creator.
  • Provide a brief description of the painting and give historical context
  • Add an interesting fact about the artist or the painting. 

The introduction should end with a thesis statement. The visual analysis essay thesis states the analysis points on the artwork that you aim to discuss in your essay. 

Step 5 - Provide Detailed Description, Analysis, and Interpretation

In the body section, you need to explore the artwork in detail. In the first body paragraph, simply describe the features and characteristics of the work. For instance, talk about the technique being used, shape, color, and other aspects to support your thesis. 

In the next paragraphs, you can go into the analysis and interpretation of these elements and the work as a whole. Present all the details logically and discuss the relationship between the objects. Talk about the meaning, significance, and impact of the work.

Step 6 - Writing a Conclusion

Once you have completed the body section, move to the conclusion paragraph. This is the last paragraph of the essay that should be strong and well-written to create a sense of closure.

Here’s how you can do it

  • Revisit the main insights gained through the analysis, summarizing the key visual elements and principles discussed. 
  • Emphasize the significance of cultural or historical context in interpreting the visual narrative. 
  • Tie together the threads of your analysis to reinforce your thesis or main argument.
  • End with a memorable statement and encourage readers to carry the lessons learned from the analysis into their own encounters with art. 

Step 7 - Edit & Revise Your Essay

Here’s how to end your visual analysis essay: edit and revise your first draft until it becomes the perfect version. Consider these steps for an excellent revision:

  • Review for Clarity: Ensure your ideas flow logically. Clarify any ambiguous or unclear statements to enhance the overall readability of your essay.
  • Trim Unnecessary Details: Trim excess information that doesn't directly contribute to your main points. Keep your analysis focused and concise.
  • Check Consistency: Verify that your writing style remains consistent throughout the essay. Maintain a balance between formal language and engaging expression.
  • Fine-Tune Transitions: Ensure smooth transitions between different sections of your essay. Transitions help guide your reader through the analysis, making the journey more enjoyable and comprehensible.
  • Proofread for Errors: Carefully proofread your essay for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. A polished essay enhances your credibility and the overall professionalism of your work.

With these basic steps, you can craft an amazing visual analysis essay. Read on for some useful tips for analyzing different kinds of visual subjects.

Tips on How to Analyze a Photograph

Painting and photograph analysis are very similar. There are three ways in which photo visual analysis is conducted: description, reflection, and formal analysis.

Although the historical study may be used, it is not necessary.

  • Description -  It implies examining the picture carefully and considering all of the details. The description should be neutral, focusing on simple facts without expressing a personal viewpoint.
  • Reflection -  For the next stage, consider the emotions that the picture stirs in you. Every viewer will have a distinct viewpoint and feelings about the piece. Knowing some historical background might be useful when formulating an educated response.
  • Formal analysis -  Consider the visual components and concepts. How are they shown in the photo?
  • Historical analysis -  For a contextual analysis, keep an eye on the photo's surroundings. Make sure you comprehend the surrounding environment in which the photograph was taken. What era was this image shot during?

Tips on How to Analyze a Sculpture

A sculpture, unlike a painting or photograph, requires a different approach to visual analysis. It still depends on visible components and principles, however it does so in a slightly different way.

When you're writing about sculptures, keep the following in mind:

  • Medium, size, and technique -  What kind of material is it? Is it carved in a negative or positive method?
  • Color and lightning -  Describe the hue of the sculpture, whether it is painted. Was the sculptor concerned with the illumination when creating the work?
  • Human body and scale -  Consider how a human body is portrayed in the piece. Also, assess the sculpture's size compared to that of the viewer.
  • Function -  What was the sculpture's main aim? You could speak about whether it represented a religious conviction or honored someone, for example.
  • Composition -  Examine the placement of the piece and determine whether there is a focal point.

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Visual Analysis Essay on Advertisement

In advertisements, visuals are used to pique interest or persuade the public that what is being advertised is needed. The goal of a visual argument is to generate attention and intrigue. Images are utilized in advertisements to transmit information and interact with the audience.

When conducting a visual analysis of an ad, keep the following in mind:

  • Textual Elements
  • Illustrations
  • Composition

This all has an impact on how people perceive information and how they react to it.

When you analyze the visuals of an ad, you're performing a rhetorical analysis. The study of images and extracting information from them is known as visual rhetoric. It aids in the comprehension of typography, imagery, and the structure of elements on the page.

How to Write a Visual Analysis Paper on an Advertisement

Visual components in advertising are important. It aids in the persuasion of the audience.

Always keep the rhetorical situation in mind while analyzing visual arguments. The following are some key elements to consider:

  • Audience -  Who is the advertisement meant to attract?
  • Purpose -  What message does the photo try to get across to the audience?
  • Design -  What kind of visualizations are included? Are the visuals clear and easy to follow? Are there any patterns or repetitions in the design?
  • Strategies -  Is there any humor, celebrities, or cultural allusions in the graphic's message?
  • Medium -  Is the photograph surrounded by text? Is there any text within the picture? How does it interact with the picture to produce an intended effect if there is any?
  • Context -  What are the characters in an ad? Where are they positioned?
  • Subtext -  Consider the meaning of the picture's words. What are they trying to say?

Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples

Here are some visual analysis essay samples that you can read to understand this type of essay better. 

Art history Visual Analysis Essay Example

Political Cartoon Visual Analysis Essay

Rhetorical and Visual Analysis Essay Sample

Mona Lisa Visual Analysis Essay

Visual Analysis Essay Topics

Here are some top visual analysis essay topics that you can choose from and begin the writing process.

  • Make a review of your favorite Hollywood production and discuss the visual arts involved.
  • Write about the use of color and action in TV commercials.
  • Discuss how the brand name is displayed in digital media campaigns.
  • Discuss different types of visual appeals used in web ads.
  • What is the special about Cleo Award-winning ads?
  • The Use of Light and Shadow in Caravaggio's "The Calling of Saint Matthew"
  • The Symbolism of Colors in Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night"
  • What is the importance of art and culture in our life?
  • How has art changed over the last 50 years?
  • The use of colors in marketing and advertising. 

To conclude, 

From gathering information about the artwork to crafting a compelling analysis, we've navigated the essential steps you need for a visual analysis essay. Moreover, with the specific tips and examples, you have everything you need to get started.

So dive into the writing process with confidence and return to this blog whenever you need help on any step!

However, if you have gone through the whole article and are still unsure how to start your essay, we can help you.

Our professional essay writers at MyPerfectWords.com can help you with your visual analysis essay assignment. Contact us with your order details, and we will get it done for you. 

We provide the best essay writing service that you can trust for better grades. Place your order now and get the best visual analysis essay writing help. 

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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Home — Essay Samples — Arts & Culture — Art History

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Essays on Art History

Art history research essay topics and outline examples, essay title 1: renaissance art: the evolution of perspective, technique, and cultural significance.

Thesis Statement: This research essay delves into the Renaissance period, highlighting the transformation of artistic perspective, techniques, and the profound cultural impact of Renaissance art on the Western world.

  • Introduction
  • The Renaissance Era: Historical and Cultural Context
  • Artistic Perspective: Transition from Medieval to Humanistic
  • Techniques and Innovations: Advances in Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture
  • The Influence of Patronage: Medici Family and Papal Support
  • The Cultural Impact: Shaping Modern Western Art and Ideals
  • Conclusion: Legacy and Ongoing Influence of Renaissance Art

Essay Title 2: Impressionism and Its Pioneers: A Study of Revolutionary Artistic Expression in the Late 19th Century

Thesis Statement: This research essay focuses on the Impressionist movement, its key artists, and the innovative approaches to light, color, and perception that transformed the art world in the late 19th century.

  • The Birth of Impressionism: Historical and Social Context
  • Impressionist Techniques: Capturing Light and Atmosphere
  • Key Artists: Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Distinct Styles
  • Public Reaction and Criticism: Shifting Artistic Paradigms
  • Legacy of Impressionism: Influence on Modern and Contemporary Art
  • Conclusion: The Enduring Appeal of Impressionist Masterpieces

Essay Title 3: Art and Revolution: The Role of Political Movements and Social Change in 20th-Century Artistic Expression

Thesis Statement: This research essay examines the intersection of art and political movements in the 20th century, highlighting how artists responded to and reflected social change through their work.

  • Political Context: Major 20th-Century Movements and Their Influence
  • Artistic Responses: Art as a Means of Social Commentary
  • Key Artists and Works: Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Political Expression
  • The Role of Surrealism: Unconscious Minds and Political Allegory
  • Artistic Freedom and Censorship: Challenges Faced by Artists
  • Conclusion: Art's Impact on Shaping Political and Social Discourse

Comparing and Contrasting Two Artworks

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Art History: Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo

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The Beginning of Impressionism, and Its Characteristics

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Analysis of The Painting "Odalisque with a Slave" by Ingres

Censorship of art and freedom of expression, cubism art movement, and its analytical and synthetical forms, the influence of world war ii on art, art as a subject of the elite, art from the middle ages to the renaissance, how arts influenced christianity in middle age, my visist to the casemate museum at fort monroe virginia, about alebrijes art form, the scottish national gallery of modern art, the necessity of art for humans: positive influence, reflection on my visit to the akron art museum, definition & types of museums, the role of performance art and transitionalism in african art, analysis of an artifact: statuette of a striding figure, roman mosaics, overview of cubism, its analytical and synthetic phases, freedom from enlightenment and connecting to modern day , the evolution and supremacy of gothic architecture in france, art and friendship: the role of art in bringing people together, relevant topics.

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  • Ethnography
  • Frida Kahlo

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art history essay outline

Art History Research Paper Topics

Academic Writing Service

Dive into the vibrant world of art history research paper topics through this meticulously curated guide, tailored for students immersed in studying history and tasked with crafting a research paper. The guide commences with a comprehensive list of 100 intriguing topics, segmented into ten well-defined categories, serving as an invaluable source of inspiration. Further guidance on how to select an art history research paper topic is provided, along with practical insights into the crafting of an exceptional art history research paper. The guide transitions into presenting the specialized writing services offered by iResearchNet, enabling students to commission custom art history research papers on any chosen topic.

100 Art History Research Paper Topics

Art history, as a field of study, covers thousands of years and countless cultures, offering an expansive array of topics for research papers. When embarking on an art history project, you can focus on certain eras, explore individual artists or art movements, investigate the role of art in specific cultures, or delve into the meanings behind specific pieces or collections. Below, we present a comprehensive list of art history research paper topics divided into ten major categories. Each topic is an invitation to dive into a unique aspect of art history and explore its significance in the global artistic landscape.

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Ancient Art

  • The Impact of Geography on Ancient Egyptian Art
  • Materials and Techniques in Ancient Greek Sculpture
  • Roman Architecture: Principles and Examples
  • Understanding the Art of the Ancient Maya Civilization
  • Development of Buddhist Art in Ancient India
  • Influence of Ancient Chinese Art on Later Dynasties
  • Ancient Persian Art and Its Impact on the Middle East
  • Representation of Deities in Ancient Egyptian Art
  • The Use of Color in Ancient Roman Frescoes
  • Comparative Analysis of Ancient Greek and Roman Sculpture

Medieval Art

  • Role of Art in Christian Worship in the Middle Ages
  • Gothic Architecture: Characteristics and Examples
  • The Influence of Islam on Medieval Art in Spain
  • The Evolution of Iconography in Medieval Paintings
  • Art as Propaganda in the Middle Ages
  • The Role of Women in Medieval Art and Society
  • Transition from Romanesque to Gothic Architecture
  • Analysis of Illuminated Manuscripts in the Medieval Period
  • The Influence of Byzantine Art on the Western Medieval Art
  • Representation of the Divine and Demonic in Medieval Art

Renaissance Art

  • Humanism and Its Impact on Renaissance Art
  • The Techniques of Leonardo da Vinci
  • The Role of Patronage in the Italian Renaissance
  • The Evolution of Self-Portraiture in the Renaissance
  • Comparison of Italian and Northern Renaissance Art
  • Michelangelo’s Influence on Art and Artists
  • Analysis of Female Figures in Renaissance Paintings
  • Use of Perspective in Renaissance Art
  • Interpretation of Mythology in Renaissance Art
  • Influence of Classical Antiquity on Renaissance Artists

Baroque and Rococo Art

  • Impact of the Counter-Reformation on Baroque Art in Italy
  • The Evolution of Landscape Painting in the Baroque Period
  • Use of Light in Caravaggio’s Paintings
  • Analysis of Rembrandt’s Portraiture
  • Comparison of French and Spanish Baroque Art
  • Women Artists of the Baroque Period
  • The Transition from Baroque to Rococo Art
  • Impact of Louis XIV’s Reign on French Art and Architecture
  • Rococo Art as a Reflection of Aristocratic Society
  • The Cultural and Artistic Influence of Versailles

Neoclassicism and Romanticism

  • Influence of Archaeological Discoveries on Neoclassical Art
  • Comparison of Neoclassicism and Romanticism
  • Exploration of the Sublime in Romantic Landscape Paintings
  • Impact of the French Revolution on Art
  • Analysis of David’s Oath of the Horatii
  • Romanticism and the Depiction of National Identity
  • Romantic Artists’ Fascination with the Exotic and the Orient
  • The Role of Women Artists in the Romantic Period
  • Neoclassical Architecture in Europe and America
  • Depiction of Mythology in Romantic Art

Modern Art Movements

  • Impressionism and the Art of Life
  • The Influence of Japanese Art on Vincent Van Gogh
  • Symbolism in Edvard Munch’s The Scream
  • Pablo Picasso and the Evolution of Cubism
  • The Impact of WWI on the Artistic Movements of the 1920s
  • Surrealism: Dreams and the Unconscious
  • Political Messages in Diego Rivera’s Murals
  • Abstract Expressionism and the Sublime
  • Pop Art as a Reflection of Consumer Culture
  • Minimalism and the Idea of Less is More

Contemporary Art

  • Conceptual Art and the Importance of Ideas
  • The Role of Art in Critiquing Contemporary Society
  • Environmental Messages in Contemporary Art
  • Representation of Identity in Contemporary Art
  • Feminism and Contemporary Art
  • The Use of New Media in Contemporary Art
  • Installation Art and Audience Participation
  • Street Art and Its Role in Urban Spaces
  • The Influence of Globalization on Contemporary Art
  • Impact of Digital Technologies on Contemporary Art Practices

Non-Western Art

  • The Influence of African Art on Modernist Artists
  • Understanding Islamic Calligraphy
  • The Role of Art in Traditional African Societies
  • Traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints
  • The Development of Indian Mughal Painting
  • The Role of Ancestors in Oceanic Art
  • Comparison of Traditional and Contemporary Native American Art
  • Indigenous Australian Art and Its Connection to the Land
  • Artistic Traditions of the Inuit
  • Symbolism in Persian Miniature Painting

Women in Art

  • Female Representation in Ancient Greek Art
  • Depictions of Women in Baroque Art
  • Women Artists of the Renaissance and Their Struggles
  • The Influence of Feminism on Contemporary Art
  • Exploration of Gender Roles through Art
  • Mary Cassatt and Her Influence on Impressionism
  • Frida Kahlo: An Icon of Feminism and Mexican Heritage
  • The Evolution of Female Nude in Art History
  • The Guerrilla Girls and Their Fight for Equality in the Art World
  • The Impact of Postmodernism on Feminist Art

Art Theory and Criticism

  • The Role of the Art Critic: From Clement Greenberg to Jerry Saltz
  • Postmodernism and the Death of the Author
  • Formal Analysis: Its Role and Importance
  • The Semiotics of Art: Signs and Symbols
  • Influence of Psychoanalytic Theory on Art Criticism
  • Iconology and the Hidden Meanings in Visual Art
  • Deconstruction and the Analysis of Art
  • Feminist Approaches to Art Criticism
  • Influence of Marxism on Art Theory and Criticism
  • The Impact of Postcolonial Theory on Art Criticism

Each category in this comprehensive list of art history research paper topics provides a wide range of subjects to explore. These diverse topics cater to various interests and offer a rich field for academic exploration. They each represent an invitation to delve deeper into the fascinating world of art history, offering you the opportunity to develop your understanding and share your unique perspective with others.

Art History and the Range of Research Paper Topics it Offers

Art history is an exceptionally broad field that spans thousands of years, multiple continents, countless cultures, and myriad forms of artistic expression. From the earliest cave paintings to contemporary digital art, the study of art history allows us to explore human history through the lens of visual culture. This piece explores the expanse of art history and the wide range of research paper topics it offers to students.

Art history is often compartmentalized into periods and styles, such as Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Romantic, Modern, and Contemporary art. Each era has its distinct characteristics, historical context, and notable artists, providing a myriad of potential research topics. For instance, one could study the impact of the Counter-Reformation on Baroque art in Italy or analyze the evolution of self-portraiture during the Renaissance.

A profound understanding of these periods and styles can also pave the way to comparative studies, allowing for interesting contrasts and parallels to be drawn between different epochs or artistic movements. For example, contrasting the logical, reason-based approach of Neoclassicism with the emotion and individualism of Romanticism can lead to a rich analysis of cultural shifts during these times.

Moreover, art history offers ample scope for studying non-Western art. Researching non-Western artistic traditions—such as African art, Islamic calligraphy, Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, or Indigenous Australian art—provides not only aesthetic appreciation but also deeper insights into these cultures’ philosophies, social structures, and spiritual beliefs.

Art history is not just the study of “high art” or the art of the elite and educated classes. Folk art, outsider art, street art, and other forms of “low art” are equally valuable subjects of study. These genres often give voice to marginalized groups and offer valuable insights into popular culture and the concerns of the everyday people.

Another compelling avenue of research is the exploration of thematic elements in art history. These themes could range from the representation of women, the interpretation of mythology, the depiction of national identity, to the portrayal of the sublime in nature. Thematic studies often transcend the boundaries of period and style, making them an exciting approach for those interested in cross-cultural and transhistorical comparisons.

The study of individual artists and their oeuvre is yet another rich area of research in art history. Focusing on a single artist’s work can provide a microcosmic view of broader artistic, cultural, and social trends. A deep dive into the works of influential artists like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, or Frida Kahlo can reveal much about the time, place, and context in which they created their art.

Art history also encompasses the study of art theory and criticism, which could lead to engaging research on topics like the role of the art critic, the influence of psychoanalytic theory on art criticism, or the impact of postcolonial theory on art criticism.

Moreover, with the rise of new media and digital technologies, contemporary art offers a plethora of unique research areas. From conceptual art and installation art to digital art and virtual reality, these new forms of art reflect the changing world and often challenge traditional notions of what art can be.

Choosing a research topic in art history is a process of personal exploration. It involves identifying your interests, asking questions, and being willing to follow a path of inquiry wherever it may lead. It requires an openness to learning and discovery, a willingness to engage with different cultures and times, and an ability to appreciate different forms of artistic expression.

In conclusion, art history, as a field of study, offers an almost infinite range of potential research topics. Whether your interest lies in specific periods or styles, individual artists or movements, thematic elements or theoretical concerns, art history has something for everyone. Through studying art history and engaging in research, you can deepen your understanding of the world and your place in it, gaining insights that are both personally enriching and academically rewarding.

Choosing Art History Research Paper Topics

Choosing the right research paper topic is crucial in art history. It allows you to explore your interests, showcase your knowledge, and contribute to the field. This section provides expert advice on selecting art history research paper topics that are engaging, significant, and conducive to in-depth analysis.

  • Understand the Scope and Context : To choose an art history research paper topic, start by understanding the scope and context of the subject. Familiarize yourself with different art movements, periods, and regions. Consider the specific time period, artistic styles, cultural influences, and socio-political contexts that interest you.
  • Follow Your Passion : Passion is key when selecting a research paper topic. Identify aspects of art history that genuinely excite you. Whether it’s Renaissance art, modern sculpture, or ancient Egyptian paintings, selecting a topic that aligns with your interests will make the research process more enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Narrow Down the Focus : Art history is a vast field, so it’s important to narrow down your focus. Instead of choosing broad topics like “Renaissance art,” consider specific themes, artists, or art movements within that era. For example, you could explore the influence of Leonardo da Vinci’s techniques on Renaissance portraiture.
  • Conduct Preliminary Research : Before finalizing your topic, conduct preliminary research to ensure sufficient resources are available. Look for scholarly articles, books, museum catalogs, and online databases that provide relevant information and analysis. This step will help you determine if your chosen topic has enough material for a comprehensive research paper.
  • Analyze Existing Scholarship : Reviewing existing scholarship is crucial for identifying gaps in knowledge and potential research avenues. Read scholarly articles, dissertations, and books on art history topics related to your interests. This will help you develop a unique research question and contribute to the academic discourse.
  • Incorporate Interdisciplinary Approaches : Art history is an interdisciplinary field, so consider incorporating perspectives from other disciplines. Explore connections between art and politics, society, philosophy, or gender studies. This interdisciplinary approach will add depth and richness to your research paper.
  • Consult with Professors and Experts : Seek guidance from your professors or art history experts. They can provide valuable insights, suggest potential topics, and recommend relevant sources. Engage in discussions, attend lectures, and take advantage of their expertise to refine your research paper topic.
  • Brainstorm and Create a Shortlist : Brainstorm a list of potential art history research paper topics based on your interests, preliminary research, and consultations. Write down keywords, themes, and specific ideas that capture your attention. Then, narrow down the list to create a shortlist of the most compelling topics.
  • Consider Significance and Originality : Choose a topic that is both significant and original. Consider the broader implications of your research and how it contributes to the field of art history. Aim to uncover lesser-known artists, analyze understudied artworks, or challenge prevailing interpretations.
  • Refine and Finalize Your Topic : Refine your research topic based on the above considerations. Craft a clear and concise research question or thesis statement that guides your exploration. Ensure your topic is specific, manageable within the scope of your research paper, and aligned with the requirements of your assignment.

Selecting an art history research paper topic requires careful consideration and a balance between personal interest and academic significance. By understanding the scope, conducting preliminary research, and seeking expert guidance, you can choose a topic that allows you to delve into the fascinating world of art history and make a meaningful contribution to the field.

How to Write an Art History Research Paper

Writing an art history research paper requires a combination of critical analysis, research skills, and effective writing techniques. This section provides a comprehensive guide on how to write an art history research paper, from selecting a topic to organizing your findings and presenting a compelling argument.

  • Understand the Assignment : Start by understanding the requirements of your research paper assignment. Pay attention to the guidelines, word count, formatting style (e.g., MLA, APA), and any specific research questions or prompts provided by your instructor. This will help you structure your paper accordingly.
  • Choose a Compelling Topic : Select a research topic that aligns with your interests and offers ample opportunities for exploration. Refer to the expert advice section on choosing art history research paper topics for guidance. Ensure your topic is specific, manageable, and allows for in-depth analysis.
  • Conduct In-Depth Research : Gather relevant sources and conduct in-depth research on your chosen topic. Explore scholarly articles, books, museum catalogs, primary sources, and online databases. Take detailed notes, citing the sources properly, and keep track of key findings, arguments, and interpretations.
  • Develop a Thesis Statement : Craft a clear and concise thesis statement that presents the main argument or focus of your research paper. Your thesis should be debatable, supported by evidence, and guide the direction of your analysis. It is the foundation upon which your entire paper will be built.
  • Create an Outline : Outline your research paper to provide structure and organization. Divide your paper into sections, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each section should address a specific aspect of your research, supporting your thesis statement and providing a logical flow of ideas.
  • Write a Compelling Introduction : Begin your research paper with an engaging introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and provides necessary background information. Clearly state your thesis statement and provide a brief overview of your research objectives, setting the tone for the rest of the paper.
  • Present Well-Structured Body Paragraphs : The body paragraphs of your research paper should present your analysis, evidence, and supporting arguments. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point, providing clear topic sentences and supporting evidence from your research. Use proper citations to credit your sources.
  • Analyze Artworks and Interpretations : Engage in critical analysis of artworks, considering their formal elements, stylistic features, cultural context, and historical significance. Compare and contrast different interpretations, theories, or scholarly viewpoints to develop a well-rounded analysis of your chosen topic.
  • Incorporate Visual Evidence : Include visual evidence in your research paper to enhance your analysis. Include high-quality images of artworks, architectural structures, or artifacts relevant to your topic. Label and refer to them in the text, providing insightful descriptions and analysis.
  • Craft a Strong Conclusion : End your research paper with a strong conclusion that summarizes your main arguments and restates your thesis statement. Reflect on the significance of your research findings, discuss any limitations or unanswered questions, and suggest avenues for further exploration.
  • Revise and Edit : After completing the initial draft, revise and edit your research paper for clarity, coherence, and adherence to academic standards. Check for grammatical errors, ensure proper citations, and refine your arguments for precision and conciseness.
  • Seek Feedback : Share your research paper with peers, professors, or mentors for feedback. Consider their suggestions and critique to improve the quality of your paper. Pay attention to clarity of expression, logical organization, and the strength of your argument.
  • Proofread and Format : Before submitting your research paper, thoroughly proofread it to eliminate any spelling, punctuation, or formatting errors. Ensure that your paper adheres to the required formatting style, including proper citations and a bibliography or works cited page.

Writing an art history research paper requires a combination of research skills, critical thinking, and effective writing techniques. By following these steps, you can create a well-structured and compelling research paper that showcases your understanding of art history, engages with scholarly discourse, and contributes to the field.

iResearchNet’s Writing Services

At iResearchNet, we understand the challenges faced by students when it comes to writing art history research papers. With our dedicated team of expert writers and comprehensive writing services, we are here to assist you throughout the research and writing process. Whether you need help selecting a topic, conducting in-depth research, or crafting a compelling argument, our services are designed to support your academic success. In this section, we will highlight the key features of iResearchNet’s writing services and demonstrate how we can be your trusted partner in art history research papers.

  • Expert Degree-Holding Writers : We take pride in our team of expert writers, who hold advanced degrees in art history and related disciplines. They have a deep understanding of the subject matter and possess the knowledge and expertise to handle a wide range of art history topics. Our writers are committed to delivering high-quality and well-researched papers that meet your academic requirements.
  • Custom Written Works : Every research paper we deliver is custom written to your specific needs and instructions. We understand that each project is unique, and we tailor our approach accordingly. Our writers conduct thorough research, analyze relevant sources, and develop original arguments and insights to ensure that your paper stands out.
  • In-Depth Research : Our writers are skilled in conducting in-depth research on art history topics. They have access to a wide range of scholarly databases, art catalogs, and reliable online resources. They meticulously gather relevant sources, critically analyze them, and integrate the most up-to-date and authoritative information into your research paper.
  • Custom Formatting : We are well-versed in various formatting styles, including APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, and Harvard. Our writers adhere to the specific guidelines of your institution and ensure that your paper is formatted correctly, including in-text citations, references, footnotes, and bibliography.
  • Top Quality : At iResearchNet, we prioritize quality in every aspect of our services. Our writers are dedicated to delivering research papers that demonstrate depth of analysis, clarity of expression, and adherence to academic standards. We have a rigorous quality assurance process in place to ensure that every paper meets the highest standards of excellence.
  • Customized Solutions : We understand that each student has unique requirements and preferences. That’s why we offer customized solutions tailored to your specific needs. Whether you need assistance with topic selection, literature review, data analysis, or any other aspect of your research paper, we are here to provide personalized support.
  • Flexible Pricing : We offer flexible pricing options to accommodate your budget. We understand that students have different financial constraints, and we strive to provide affordable services without compromising on quality. Our pricing structure is transparent, and we offer various packages to suit your specific requirements.
  • Short Deadlines : We recognize that time constraints can be a significant challenge for students. That’s why we offer short deadlines for urgent research paper requests. If you have a tight deadline, our writers can work efficiently to deliver a high-quality paper within as little as 3 hours.
  • Timely Delivery : Meeting deadlines is a top priority for us. We understand the importance of submitting your research paper on time to ensure academic success. Our writers are committed to delivering your paper within the agreed-upon timeframe, allowing you ample time for review and revision.
  • 24/7 Support : We provide round-the-clock customer support to address any queries or concerns you may have. Our friendly and knowledgeable support team is available 24/7 to assist you with any aspect of our services, from placing an order to tracking your project’s progress.
  • Absolute Privacy : We prioritize the confidentiality of your personal information and the work we do for you. At iResearchNet, we have strict privacy policies in place to safeguard your identity and ensure that your research paper remains confidential. You can trust us to handle your project with utmost confidentiality.
  • Easy Order Tracking : We provide a user-friendly platform that allows you to track the progress of your research paper. You can stay updated on the status of your project, communicate with your assigned writer, and easily access your completed paper when it is ready.
  • Money Back Guarantee : We are committed to your satisfaction. If, for any reason, you are not completely satisfied with the final product, we offer a money-back guarantee. We believe in the quality of our services and strive to ensure your utmost satisfaction with the research paper we deliver.

At iResearchNet, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive writing services to support students in their art history research papers. Our team of expert writers, customized solutions, in-depth research, and commitment to quality make us your trusted partner in academic success. Whether you need assistance with topic selection, research, writing, or any other aspect of your research paper, we are here to help. Unleash your potential with iResearchNet’s writing services and experience the convenience and excellence we offer. Place your order today and let us assist you in achieving your academic goals.

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Don’t let the challenges of art history research papers hold you back. Unleash your potential and achieve academic success with iResearchNet’s art history writing services. Our team of expert writers, customized solutions, extensive research, and commitment to excellence are designed to support you in your art history journey. Place your order today and experience the convenience, quality, and expertise that iResearchNet has to offer. Unlock the doors to academic success and embark on a rewarding path in art history.


art history essay outline


Art History Paper Outline : Art History Research Paper Assignment

  • Author Miriam M.

Art History Paper Outline

 An art history paper is used to explain the relationship between the technical form of a work of art and the impression it makes on a viewer. It is also used to express how the visual elements of a piece of artwork together to express an overall effect. When writing an art history paper, you are required to use a visual vocabulary and translate visual impressions into concrete verbal expression. Your art history paper can either be in an analytical or a narrative form.

The following is an art history paper outline:

1. Introduction

Your introduction should:

  • State the name of the artist.
  • State the title of the work of art.
  • State the date that the work of art was created.
  • Indicate the medium.
  • Give the current location of the art work.
  • Give details about the artist’s interests or that of the period that may have influenced his work.
  • Indicate the period in which it was created.
  • Conclude with a thesis statement. Your thesis statement should give a framework for your analysis and suggest your interpretation of the work. It should not necessarily involve a statement of argument but should inform the reader how the artist’s formal choices affect the viewer.

Your body should include:

  • Several body paragraphs each explaining a different main idea related to your thesis statement.
  • Topic sentences. Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence stating the significance of the art work and end with a concluding statement.
  • Organized analyses of the formal elements based on the major figures, a focal point or other significant effects in the art work.
  • A description of the art work. You must introduce your descriptions of the formal elements of the art work to enable the reader to understand how each element influences the overall effect of the viewer on the art work.
  • Your emotional responses to the art work. Explain your responses and support them with evidence.

3. Conclusion

Your conclusion:

  • Should give a summary of your findings.
  • Should restate your thesis statement.
  • Should relate back to the theme that you have presented in your introduction, making sure that you do not simply repeat what you stated in your introduction.
  • May include new ideas, insights or understandings that you have gained about the art work through the research process.

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  • How to Write an Art History Research Paper Outline

art history essay outline

What Is the Art History Research Paper Outline and What Is the Purpose of Writing It.

Writing a research paper for an art history course is similar to academic writing in other disciplines, such as literature or history. In art history, however, you derive evidence from careful visual observations of artworks. Writing about art can include a broad range of media, such as painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, and photography, to name a few examples. In order to consistently structure winning research papers for an art history course, you should know how to write an art history research paper outline.

The outline is a basement of your art history research paper. It serves as a visual aid that assists students in organizing their writing assignments. Creating the art history research paper outline can simplify the overall writing process. The benefit of outlining is that it helps you to craft a clear and coherent research paper. A good outline maintains your focus on the thesis statement and prevents you from drifting into unrelated topics. Read on to learn how to write a college art history research paper outline.

How to Organize Your Art Research Paper

Art history research papers are unique in that they require the students to look at, describe, and interpret pieces of art. The challenge of art history writing is that the students should apply particular vocabulary and verbalize their visual sensory experience. A close visual analysis of a specific artwork lies at the heart of every art history research paper. Successful research papers about art shed light on a process of artistic invention and encourage readers to look at the artwork more carefully.

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At this point, you may wonder how to organize your art history research paper. The basic structure of the research paper for an art history course includes the following elements.

The title page of the art history research paper introduces the research topic to the readers. An effective title enables you to explain what issue will be the focus of your paper. All you have to do is to insert relevant keywords in the title of your research paper. These keywords should correspond with all the main points that you are going to present in your art history paper.

An abstract is a condensed version of your art history research paper. It summarizes the content discussed in your paper. The professors ordinarily ask students to write either informative or descriptive abstracts. An informative abstract contains 300 to 500 words that reflect the major aspects of your research paper. It acts as a surrogate for your art history paper itself. With this in mind, an informative abstract should include the following:

  • a comprehensive description of the central research problem of your paper;
  • a brief overview of the main arguments;
  • a succinct summary of the Important findings and conclusions.

A descriptive abstract, in contrast, contains about 150 words. It provides a generic description of the issue covered without any specific details. This type of abstract requires the least effort and specifics, but it is not useful to the readers.


The introductory paragraph of the art history research paper provides factual information about the piece of art and its creation. This includes the name of the artist, the title of the artwork, the year of its creation, and the materials used to make it. It is also necessary to indicate the scale of the art object. In addition, the introduction provides some details about the artist’s interests along with the explanation of relevant social and historical conditions that may have influenced the artist’s work. The introductory paragraph ends with the thesis statement that clearly conveys the focus of your research paper. The effective thesis statement indicates the meaning or significance of the art object.

Each body paragraph should present a separate idea related to the thesis statement. Don’t forget to place the topic sentence at the very beginning of the body paragraphs. A strong topic sentence expresses the main point of each paragraph. The body of the art history research paper should include the analysis of the formal elements, such as color, line, texture, and shape. These elements act as the building blocks of the work of art, which allow better understanding the composition. You should also explain how these elements work together to create a specific effect. Avoid describing the art piece without analyzing it. Remember that the body paragraphs present your interpretation of the artwork based on the visual evidence.

The concluding paragraph ties together the art research paper’s main points. This is also where you should discuss the meaning and value of the art object chosen for your research paper. To write a good conclusion, you should demonstrate how all the paragraphs of your research paper make a coherent whole. The conclusion should underline the significance of your argument.

List of references

The list of references should include all the works you have consulted while writing your art research paper. Put the sources in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.

Art history research paper requires the inclusion of reproductions of the art piece. This useful, supporting material is not an essential part of you research paper, but it lets the reader better understand the research topic. You should include helpful illustrations in appendices. Be sure to use a separate appendix for each distinct type of information.

Now it’s time to edit. Start with taking an overall look at your art research paper. Do the paragraphs flow well together? Should you cut any part of your paper? Then, focus on the word choices. Does your writing sound good? Is there a more suitable word you can use to express your ideas? Next, check for grammar and spelling. You may use available online tools that help detect grammar and spelling mistakes. Finally, check whether your art research paper adheres to the required formatting style. Pay attention to the headings, spacing, references, citations, and so on.

Need someone to write you an outline  for your paper? Fill in the form!

Tips for Writing the Outline for Art History Research Paper

If you’ve never written the art history research paper outline, keep on reading. Here are some helpful tips on how to craft an art history research paper outline.

  • Select an Interesting Topic

If your professor gives the freedom to select the research topic, be sure to pick a topic based on the personal interest. Why is it important to like what you write about? Because the lack of sympathy reduces the curiosity that is an essential ingredient to good thinking.Cheack out also our essay sample the Reinessance Cassone about art.

  • Observe the Art Piece Carefully

Once you’ve decided on the research topic, be sure to devote enough time to the visual observation of the chosen art object. Pay attention to composition, color, texture, and so on. Try to determine the effect of these artistic decisions on the viewer.

  • Take Notes While Observing the Art Object

Keep in mind that human memories are unreliable. Taking notes on art objects helps you record important information that you can use in your research paper. Good note-taking makes the writing process less daunting. It enables you to finish the art history research paper considerably faster.

  • Fill Your Brain with Relevant Information

Research your topic using reputable sources, such as books and articles. The information-gathering process promotes creative thinking and helps you to create the winning research paper.

  • Craft Your Outline

Your research paper art history outline should consist of the introduction, several body paragraphs that directly address your thesis statement, and the conclusion. The introduction should include an interesting introductory sentence that grabs the reader’s attention, several supporting sentences, as well as an arguable thesis statement. Each body paragraph should consist of the topic sentence and supporting sentences. The conclusion should begin with the thesis restatement. Add several supporting sentences to the concluding paragraph.

Best Topic Ideas for Art History Research Paper

Many students consider that the most difficult part of writing an art history research paper is to get started. But the choice of unique and interesting topic even precedes this starting point. The topic selection process is not as simple as it might seem at first glance. Indeed, good topic ideas don’t fall from trees. It takes a lot of time, persistence, and imagination to choose the right research topic in art history.

As a rule, the professors provide the list of possible topics from which the student may select. However, oftentimes, the professors give their students greater freedom in choosing art history research paper topics. They ask the students to come up with the topic that is interesting and at the same relevant to the course.

Choosing a good research topic in art history can be challenging and even frustrating. Not all the topics that seem interesting to you are broad enough to allow you to locate plenty of information and narrow enough to be manageable in a research paper. The right topic enables you to find a sufficient amount of information for the length of your research paper. Moreover, a specific and manageable research topic in art history can make the writing process easy, quick, and fun. If you can’t decide on the perfect topic for the art history research paper, check out the suggestions below to get inspired.

  • The influence of science on sculptures in Ancient Greece.
  • The most notable pieces of art in Mesopotamia.
  • Sacred symbols of Hinduism in Indian art.
  • Biblical symbolism in Renaissance artworks.
  • The meanings of nudity in Renaissance paintings.
  • The features of Romanticism in Eugène Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus
  • The depiction of dwarfs in Diego Velázquez’s paintings.
  • Edouard Manet’s new approach to painting.
  • Color and light in Claude Monet’s Impression: Sunrise.
  • Coloristics of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.
  • Savageness in Paul Gauguin’s paintings.
  • The paranoiac-critical method in Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.
  • Abstract art: Can it be decoded?
  • The combination of several art styles in Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.
  • Pablo Picasso’s portraits: How artworks reflect his constantly changing artistic style?
  • The abstract language of Kazimir Malevich’s paintings.
  • Cubism and fantasy in Marc Chagall’s I and the Village.
  • Symbolism in Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas.
  • The unique painting technique in Jackson Pollock’s art.
  • Mark Rothko: How to understand the artist’s color-field painting?

Can’t find the right art history research paper topic on the above list? Change some words within the topic, but keep its overall structure intact. This trick helps you to make the topic more in line with your specific assignment.

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How Can We Help?

Writing an outline for the art history research paper requires a lot of time, diligence, and concentration. Oftentimes, professors don’t provide art history research paper outline example. That’s why many students don’t know for sure how to write an art history research paper outline correctly. If you are still having trouble writing your outline, ask the expert writers at Gold Essays  to help you. Our professional writers will do their best to create a perfect art history research paper outline, no matter whether the outline is a part of the research paper or a separate assignment. Be sure that our experienced writers can also assist you in choosing the research topic. When you order the art research paper outline from us, you will be pleasantly surprised with our affordable prices and high quality of writing. Use our outline writing service to receive the research paper outline of outstanding quality. Hundreds of our customers have already realized that such writing assistance allows improving academic progress and save time for other activities.

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art history essay outline

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art history essay outline

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  1. Art History Essays

    Typically in an art history class the main essay students will need to write for a final paper or for an exam is a formal or stylistic analysis. A formal analysis is just what it sounds like - you need to analyze the form of the artwork.

  2. Guidelines for Writing Art History Research Papers

    Research papers should be in a 12-point font, double-spaced. Ample margins should be left for the instructor's comments. All margins should be one inch to allow for comments. Number all pages. The cover sheet for the paper should include the following information: title of paper, your name, course title and number, course instructor, and date ...

  3. Resources

    One of the challenges of art history writing is that it requires a vocabulary to describe what you see when you look at a painting, drawing, sculpture or other media. This checklist is designed to explore questions that will help you write these types of art history papers. Features of An Art History Analysis Paper

  4. Art History

    Art History What this handout is about This handout discusses a few common assignments found in art history courses. To help you better understand those assignments, this handout highlights key strategies for approaching and analyzing visual materials. Writing in art history

  5. Art History Writing Guide

    You will be expected to write several different kinds of art history papers. They include: Close Visual Analysis Essays; Close Visual Analysis in dialogue with scholarly essays; Research Papers; Close Visual Analysis pieces are the most commonly written papers in an introductory art history course. You will have to look at a work of art and ...


    ART HISTORY: GUIDE TO ESSAY WRITING The aim of formal essay writing is to engage your critical reading and writing skills to craft an articulate and polished essay. It provides an opportunity to consider a topic in depth, combining the synthesis of source materials with your own conclusions based on those materials.

  7. Guidelines for Analysis of Art

    Galleries Guidelines for Analysis of Art Knowing how to write a formal analysis of a work of art is a fundamental skill learned in an art appreciation-level class. Students in art history survey and upper-level classes further develop this skill. Use this sheet as a guide when writing a formal analysis paper.

  8. art history guide final

    Art history is a humanistic discipline that brings together research to explore historical contexts while engaging in ways of looking at, describing, and understanding works of art.

  9. Compare and Contrast: Preparing for an Art History Essay Exam

    Step 2: Choose 5 elements, items, topics for a comparison chart. In order for you to create an art history exam question yourself, start first with a detailed list of at least five elements, items, or topics you expect to use in your comparison. In addition to the characteristics and elements listed in Step 1 above, you might also consider ...

  10. MADA: Art History essay

    Essay writing: History and theory of art, design and architecture. As a student in Monash Art Design and Architecture (MADA) you will be expected to write essays about artworks, design objects and the built environment. Essay writing in MADA is distinctive from other faculties in its emphasis on these visual materials and the creative practices ...

  11. Art History Essays: Examples, Topics, & Outlines

    Art History Essays (Examples) 1000+ documents containing "art history" . In order to understand what an art history essay is; it is necessary to understand what the term "art history" means. It refers to the academic study of the histor... Show More Sort By: Most Relevant Keyword (s) Reset Filters Art History Certainly After Proceeding

  12. Formal Analysis Paper Examples

    Formal Analysis Paper Examples. Formal Analysis Paper Example 1. Formal Analysis Paper Example 2. Formal Analysis Paper Example 3.

  13. Arts: History essay

    texts, such as letters, diaries, official documents, newspaper reports, or fictional accounts (such as novels or poems) oral accounts, accessible through audio or audio-visual recordings and transcripts. , such as paintings, prints, photographs, maps and posters. film from the period. This is far from an exhaustive list!

  14. AP Art History Notes, Outlines, and Essays

    Students that take AP Art History should expect to cover art and art history as follows: 5-10% coursework on other media such as printmaking, photography, ceramics, fiber arts, and others. The AP Art History exam will cover these areas of study in proportion to how much time is spent covering them over the course of the class.

  15. PDF AP Art History

    Questions 1 and 2 are long essay questions, and you are advised to spend one hour to answer these two questions. Questions 3 through 6 are short essay questions, and you are advised to spend 15 minutes on each. The proctor will announce when each time interval has elapsed, but you may proceed freely from one question to another.

  16. Visual Analysis Essay: Outline, Topics, & Examples

    A visual analysis essay is a common assignment for the students of history, art, and communications. It is quite a unique type of academic essay. Visual analysis essays are where images meet text. These essays aim to analyze the meanings embedded in the artworks, explaining visual concepts in a written form.

  17. Essays on Art History

    4 pages / 1637 words In modern art, a lot of paintings can be used to describe events, especially historical or cultural events. However, this essay will be focusing on specific events, and how three different pieces of art, by three different artists represent what is going on. We will... Art History Impressionism 5

  18. Art History Research Paper Topics

    100 Art History Research Paper Topics. Art history, as a field of study, covers thousands of years and countless cultures, offering an expansive array of topics for research papers. When embarking on an art history project, you can focus on certain eras, explore individual artists or art movements, investigate the role of art in specific ...

  19. What Art Essay Consists of And How to Write It

    Structure of the Art Essay and Its Features. The structure of the essay consists of three required elements: introduction, body, and conclusion. The absence of one of the article's composition elements is considered a mistake and taken into account in the assessment. It is challenging to write the introduction and conclusion.

  20. Art History Paper Outline

    The following is an art history paper outline: 1. Introduction Your introduction should: State the name of the artist. State the title of the work of art. State the date that the work of art was created. Indicate the medium. Give the current location of the art work.

  21. Art History Research Paper Outline Writing Guide

    The outline is a basement of your art history research paper. It serves as a visual aid that assists students in organizing their writing assignments. Creating the art history research paper outline can simplify the overall writing process. The benefit of outlining is that it helps you to craft a clear and coherent research paper.

  22. PDF History of the Art of India, Part I: Origins to Mughals

    Geography, prehistory, and early history of the Indian subcontinent Location and time span of the Indus Valley civilization and its two major cities Principal characteristics and noteworthy examples of the art forms of the Indus Valley civilization, including steatite seals, terracotta figures, bronze statues, and stone sculptures

  23. Art History Essay Outline

    EssayBot is an essay writing assistant powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Given the title and prompt, EssayBot helps you find inspirational sources, suggest and paraphrase sentences, as well as generate and complete sentences using AI. If your essay will run through a plagiarism checker (such as Turnitin), don't worry.

  24. Art History Essay Outline

    Art History Essay Outline. The essay writers who will write an essay for me have been in this domain for years and know the consequences that you will face if the draft is found to have plagiarism. Thus, they take notes and then put the information in their own words for the draft. To be double sure about this entire thing, your final draft is ...