VISUAL ANALYSIS PAPER
One of the more traditional assignments that students encounter in an introductory Art History class is to go to a museum to observe an object(s) and write a paper that details its stylistic features. Since the Lowe Art Museum has a very fine collection of Renaissance to Rococo paintings, select one painting from this time span to concentrate on.
Once having selected the painting from the Lowe’s collection, pay close attention to stylistic features (i.e., composition, color, use of light/shadow, perspective, figures, pose, gestures, et al). Describe the object and compare/contrast it to pieces we have studied in class, whether in the PowerPoint lectures or in the textbook.
When selecting objects to compare the museum piece to, be discerning. That is, try to find objects that share more characteristics than not. The aim of this assignment is for students to develop an eye for style and to locate the subtle differences that distinguish one technique or tendency from another.
Organize the paper, which should be five to seven (5-7) pages in length, into an introductory paragraph, body, and conclusion. The introduction may include some general information (e.g., historical, economic, cultural) about the object's specific time period, the technique utilized to create the object, etc. More importantly, the introduction should include a thesis statement about the object's overall aesthetic. Then organize the body in a logical, analytic fashion, and conclude the paper with some remarks about the significance of the object -- that is, how it fits into a larger Renaissance to Rococo art historical framework.
Remember, this is NOT a research paper; however, if you quote a source (e.g., a placard or web site from the museum), be sure to cite it.
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The Virgin Mary, also known as Madonna, was exceeded only in importance in medieval and Renaissance paintings by Christ himself. Therefore, it is extremely common to see the Virgin Mary in at least a coequal position with Christ in paintings. Arguably, in some artwork, the Madonna maintains an even more prestigious position due to the fact that she is the mother of Christ and therefore a divine figure in her own right. We see the Virgin Mary in a central position holding the baby Christ in both eras with the baby Christ assuming a similar pose.
Prior to the medieval period, the Virgin Mary was often depicted alone in artwork, but after the Crusades, she was paired with her divine child due to the fact that the Church elevated her status. The Crusaders believed they fought for the Virgin Mary as well as Christ, and the need to pair mother and son came from the fact that she was a triumphant figure while Christ was a “tragic figure” due to his crucifixion and the belief that He would not return to Earth in their lifetimes (Mulch, 2011)...
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