Art History Essays Examples

art history essays

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 history and development of the visual arts, including painting, sculpture, and drawing.  Therefore, an art history essay is any essay that involves discussion of this history and development of art, and may focus on technical details of art that make it representative of a certain historical period or movement in art history.  Typical essay topics may ask you to explain how a work does or does not represent a specific type of art, and will require you to analyze different aspects of the painting such as color, line, texture, scale, contrast, size, medium, subject, technique, and the use of light to support your explanation.

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Art During Renaissance the Evolution of Art

Words: 2107 Length: 7 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 43948005

Art During Renaissance

The Evolution of Art During the Renaissance

The Renaissance period is defined as a cultural movement that spanned approximately from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe (Brotton 2006, p. 6). This period in the history of art included the painting, decorative arts and sculpture of the period and for many was considered a reawakening or rebirth of historic and ancient traditions based on the classical antiquity and the inclusion of more recent developments by applications of contemporary scientific knowledge.

The Renaissance was seen as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the modern era. The period also marked a cognitive shift from religious perspectives to a more intellectual and social focus. Classical texts previously lost to European scholars became readily available and included science, drama, poetry, prose, philosophy, and new considerations regarding Christian theology. The medieval ages, a period in European history dated from the 5th to the 15th century preceded the dawn of the early modern era, and was considered a deviation from classical learning but later reemerged with its connectivity to scholarship in the Renaissance (Stokstad 1986, p. 3).…… [Read More]

Acidini, Luchinat Cristina. The Medici, Michelangelo, & the Art of Late Renaissance Florence. New Haven: Yale UP in Association with the Detroit Institute of Arts, 2002. Print.

Adams, Laurie. Italian Renaissance Art. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2001. Print.
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Art Culture

Words: 5226 Length: 15 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 29153439

Art Culture: Public Space Art

Public art like that of Koon's Train (2011), Serra's Tilted Arc (1981), Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1981), and James' Sea Flower (1978), ignite discussion to the point of its modification, re-arrangement, or removal. The reason for this controversial treatment of public art is its ability to embrace a variety of aesthetic practices. The adoption of different aesthetic values like poster art, outdoor sculpture, earthworks, multimedia projections, and community-based projects among others, breaks the public's traditional understanding of art (Glahn, 2000). This critique finds that the public's totalizing classification of public sphere brings about controversy and dialogue over public art displays. By reviewing the famous public art "Tilted Arc" (1981) by Richard Serra, this analysis will show that there are distinct differences between public understanding and professional understanding of public art.

The government with the intention of exhibiting, protecting, and edifying art, commissions public art in America to identifying with national pride. To Levine (2002), artists follow the traditions of public art where it holds the highest moral, aesthetic value, and satisfied the interest of the mass (52). In this context, public art becomes a nuisance is if is deliberately ignores public approval. This policy creates…… [Read More]

"REVIEW & OUTLOOK (Editorial, b) -- Asides: Tilting with the Arc." Wall Street Journal: 1. Sep 04, 1987. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Doss, Erika. "Public Art Controversy: Cultural Expression and Civic Debate," Americans for the Arts, October 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
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Art Analysis of Sacrifice of Isaac by Lorenzo Ghiberti

Words: 1385 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 27030540


"Sacrifice of Isaac" Analysis

This paper will focus upon Lorenzo Ghiberti and one of his artistic works called "Sacrifice of Isaac." The paper will provide a context within which to explain and evaluate this sculpture. Referencing art history, world history, and the artist's personal history, the paper will explore and analyze "Sacrifice of Isaac" as a seminal work of a famous artist that serves as a masterpiece representing the entire artistic movement at the time.

"Sacrifice of Isaac" was done in the International Gothic style This is a piece that was a part of the Early Renaissance. It was made in the early 15th century. "Sacrifice of Isaac" is specifically supposed to depict Abraham sacrificing Isaac because God commanded him to do so. The piece contains Abraham, who is moments away from stabbing Isaac with a knife. There is an angel watching this from the sky or heaven above them. There are others who are on the mountain's path having a conversation. One of the people is on a horse. The altar that Isaac is on is very ornate.

Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac was supposed to demonstrate or prove Abraham's faith in God. The story in the…… [Read More]

Works Cited:
All-Art. "Lorenzo Ghiberti.", Web, Available from: . 2013 October 10.

Bloom, Kathryn. "Lorenzo Ghiberti's Space in Relief: Method and Theory." The Art Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 2, 164 -- 169, 1969.
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Art of Classical Antiquity in the Ancient

Words: 1563 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 18582454

Art of classical antiquity, in the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, has been much revered, admired, and imitated. In fact, the arts of ancient Greece and Rome can be considered the first self-conscious and cohesive art movements in Europe. Style, form, execution, and media were standardized and honed to the point where aesthetic ideals were created and sustained over time. The art of classical antiquity in Greece and Rome reverberated throughout history, impacting the art of subsequent eras in Europe. In fact, there can be no absolute "neoclassical" era in art history because of the way neoclassicism evolved throughout the centuries since the fall of the Roman Empire. The arts of the Renaissance borrowed heavily from classical antiquity, as can be seen in Renaissance icons such as Michelangelo's David. Some suggest that medieval art pays homage to classical antiquity, even if the quotations from classical Greek and Rome are not as obvious as they would be in the Renaissance ("Classical Antiquity in the Middle Ages," n.d.). "Interest in the classical past never totally disappeared in the Middle Ages but the 15th century saw the emergence of a different attitude to it in Europe: growing admiration for ancient texts and…… [Read More]

Castelijn, D. (2012). The Influence of Classical Antiquity on the Renaissance. Oxford Department for Continuing Education. Retrieved online:

"Classical Antiquity in the Middle Ages," (n.d.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved online: 
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History of Western Art Compare

Words: 1051 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 8062228

As a result, both works of art share this similarity, as they want to instill the audience with a sense of awe and respect for this person. (Stokstad, 2011)

When you step back and analyze both statues, it is clear that Donatello as well as Michael Angelo is trying to impress upon the audience a sense of: strength and respect for their statues. This is illustrated by the way they are using his physique, to underscore his physical strength and sexual prowess. However, both artists have different interpretations about what this character should look like. As far as Donatello is concerned, he is highlighting these momentous changes that are occurring (through a graphic depiction of the aftermath of the battle). Where, he shows David posed victoriously, with his foot on top of Goliath' severed head. This is important, because Donatello is trying to instill in the audience a sense of awe about what took place, by showing the brutality and accomplishment from these events. In the case of Michael Angelo, he is going for a more subtle interpretation of the underlying situation. This takes place, through the conservative pose of David after the battle. The difference is that this interpretation…… [Read More]

Donatello's David. (n.d.). Oneonta. Retrieved from: 

Michael Angelo's David. (n.d.). Italy Guides. Retrieved from:
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History of Western Art Discuss

Words: 1592 Length: 4 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 43734116

As the various are works are depicting the two as a perfect match. A good example of this can be seen in the painting the Meeting of Marie de ' Medici and Henry IV at Lyon. Where, Rubens is showing the two in heaven, looking down on themselves when they were younger riding lions. This is important, because the image of them in heaven is highlighting how they are God's match. While the lions are an illustration, of how they are from the same kind of background. As a result, a sense of mysticism is embraced with: heaven and the lions. While reality is depicted by: showing the two people as they actually appeared in real life. Therefore, the Baroque style is illustrated through the use of: mysticism and realism that are connected to one another. ("Marie de ' Medici and Henry IV at Lyon," 2011)


Artermisia Gentileschi. (n.d.) the Art History Archive. Retrieved from:

The King's Interior Apartments. (2011). Palace of Versailles. Retrieved from:

Marie de ' Medici and Henry IV at Lyon. (2011). Arts Heaven. Retrieved from:

The Merode Altarpeice. (n.d.). Home Schools. Retrieved from:

Pyschobiographical Tenebrisim. (n.d.) Radford. Retrieved from:

Pioch,…… [Read More]

Artermisia Gentileschi. (n.d.) the Art History Archive. Retrieved from:

The King's Interior Apartments. (2011). Palace of Versailles. Retrieved from:
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Art One Point Linear Perspective in the Renaissance

Words: 1791 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 23072864

Art One-Point Linear Perspective in the Renaissance

One-Point Linear Perspective in the Renaissance

In the context of art, perspective is generally defined as "… the technique an artist uses to create the illusion of three dimensions on a flat surface" (Essak). Perspective is in essence an illusion of depth and realism in the work of art. It is also an intrinsic part of human evolutionary makeup. As Edgerton ( 2006) states, "

Every human being who has ever lived from Pleistocene times to the present, has experienced in vision the apparent convergence of parallel edges of objects as they extend away from our eyes and seem to come together in a single "vanishing point" on the distant horizon… (Edgerton, 2006)

However, from an art historical perspective it is also true that linear or single-point perspective has not always been an accepted part of painting and artistic creation. It is in fact only fairly recently in history that perspective has been seen to be an important part of the picture space of the artwork. Furthermore, it is also mainly a Western artistic convention and formal conventions of perspective are not found in many artistic traditions, such as in Eastern art. Perspective…… [Read More]

Edgerton, S. ( 2006). Picturing the Mind's Eye. Tampa University. Journal of Art History,

1. Retrieved from
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Art and Society an Analysis

Words: 2935 Length: 10 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 30330794


In this regard, Nead notes that because she was an art lover, Richardson experienced a moral dilemma in her decision to attack "The Rokeby Venus," but she felt compelled to do so anyway based on her perception that the government was failing to act responsibility towards women in general and the suffragettes in particular. "In her statement during her trial, Richardson appears calm and articulate and nothing is said explicitly about any objections that she might have had to a female nude. Indeed, it was not until an interview given in 1952 that Richardson gave an additional reason for choosing the Velazquez: 'I didn't like the way men visitors to the gallery gaped at it all day'" (emphasis added) (Nead 36).

Figure 1. Velazquez, The Rokeby Venus.

Source: The Social Construction of Gender, 2006.

According to Mann (2002), functionalism could help explain the attack by Richardson on "The Rokeby Venus" based on the stark contrasts between how men and women were treated during the early 20th century. "Functionalism was a static picture of a self-satisfied society run by interlocking power elites," he advises, "suppressing outsiders such as blacks, women, the poor, and the artistic avant-garde. The monuments of structural…… [Read More]

Works Cited:
Bartley, Paula. (2003). "Emmeline Pankhurst: Paula Bartley Reappraises the Role of the Leader of the Suffragettes." History Review, 41.

Damon-Moore, Helen. Magazines for the Millions: Gender and Commerce in the Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, 1880-1910. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.
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Art Both Duccio Di Buoninsegna and Fra

Words: 1384 Length: 4 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 18026135


Both Duccio di Buoninsegna and Fra Filippo Lippi paint the Christian Madonna and child scene. Lippi's "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Two Angels" is rendered on wood with tempera and gold leaf. It is rounded at the top, and was the center part of a triptych that was completed in about the year 1440.[footnoteRef:1] Also in tempera and gold leaf on wood is di Buoninsegna's "Madonna and Child." Candle damage at the bottom of the wood panel suggests that the painting was "used for private devotion."[footnoteRef:2] Buoninsegna's painting was completed in the year 1300, almost one hundred and fifty years prior to Lippi's "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Two Angels." The two depictions of mother Mary and baby Jesus share similar themes, and in both the mother is holding the child. However, the composition of the two paintings is strikingly different and symbolizes their respective religious histories. [1: "Fra Filippo Lippi: Madonna and Child Enthroned with Two Angels (49.7.9)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 -- . (August 2007)] [2: "Duccio di Buoninsegna: Madonna and Child (2004.442)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art,…… [Read More]

"Duccio di Buoninsegna: Madonna and Child (2004.442)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 -- . (September 2010)

"Fra Filippo Lippi: Madonna and Child Enthroned with Two Angels (49.7.9)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 -- . (August 2007)
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Art Therapy a Form of Psychotherapy

Words: 2045 Length: 6 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 5673644

Art Therapy a form of psychotherapy?

Since the middle of the twentieth century, artistic expression and creation have been seen as valuable assets in the context of therapy and rehabilitation. The impact that art therapy has had on the field of psychology is undeniable, and its influence has contributed to the development of various diagnostic tools and interventions used in psychotherapy. The practice of art therapy involves the process of image making and its resulting products, as well as the relationship dynamic between the client and the therapist in relation to the image and/or each other (Edwards, 2004). Specific definitions of the term 'art therapy' are conflicting and numerous (Edwards, 2004). Currently, the British Association of Art Therapists perceives art therapy as process of practitioners enabling psychological and emotional growth and change in clients through artistic creation, and the relationship between the client and the therapist is viewed as integral to the therapeutic success of art therapy (Karkou & Sanderson, 2006). Several debates exist with the art therapy profession regarding its own identity (Karkou & Sanderson, 2006). In particular there is some disagreement among art therapists in regard to whether art therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The following discussion…… [Read More]

Case C. & Dalley, T. (Eds.) (1992). The Handbook of Art Therapy. London: Tavistock / Routledge.

Edwards, D. (2004). Art Therapy. London: Sage.
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Art Please Take a Close Look at

Words: 1116 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 24976249


Please take a close look at two paintings of storms: Watteau's the Storm

painting comparison

Watteau's the Storm and Delacroix's the Sea of Galilee

The two paintings in question refer to different time periods in art history and more importantly, to different views about art and life. These views are also reflected in the style and the technique of the two paintings. Art is often a reflection of the times in which it is created. The social values and perceptions as well as the dominant religious and philosophical ideas of the time tend to be represented in art during a certain period. The following two paintings will be compared and contrasted in terms of their unique qualities, as well as in terms of the way they reflect the era and the dominant ethos of the time period in which they were created.

Comparison of Two Paintings

The development in art from Neoclassicism to the Romantic period can be seen in the analysis of these two paintings. However, one has to first ascertain the main characteristics of these two periods.

From the perspective of art history the Neoclassical period was still deeply concerned with the ideals of Greek as well…… [Read More]

Introduction to the Romantic Era in English Poetry. Retrieved from 

Neoclassicism. Retrieved from
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Art Museum Case Study This Case Study

Words: 743 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 74973397

Art Museum: Case Study

This case study involves a campus art museum that for many years had a competent director, but a relatively staid presence on campus. The last director had a far more populist orientation. He tried to bring schoolchildren into the museum on a regular basis, and bring in traveling art exhibitions that were of interest to the larger public. But he seemed more interested in advancing a radical political agenda than truly supporting art. Because the art museum is seen as connected to the graduate school, there is a great deal of anger amongst faculty members, who believe that the museum should serve the interests of the school, specifically the graduate students studying for PhDs. In the future, the evaluation committee must have a more systematic process for evaluating candidates. The mission of the art museum must be clearly defined. And the past qualifications, necessary skills, and goals of the position must be stated as part of the job description. The new director must be sensitive to the needs of the community, yet also have relevant managerial experience.

Universities have multifaceted missions, and must please a variety of stakeholders. On one hand, they have a duty to…… [Read More]

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Art Critique of Surreal and Post-Impressionist Works

Words: 1454 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 99575459

Art Critique

Critique of Surreal and Post-Impressionist Works of Art

Dali's Autumn Cannibalism (1936)

Salvador Dali is one of the great and mercurial figures in art history. The surrealistic Spanish painter was influenced heavily by the tumultuous period of history in which he lived and by the haunting images in his own psyche. Both are on dramatic display in the 1936 piece, "Autumn Cannibalism." Here, Dali paints a depiction of the military conflict tearing his motherland apart from within, offering us this terrifying rendering of civil war as seen through the eyes of one consumed by it.

In the confrontation between the social commentary and the internal reflection that comprise this piece, Dali creates a piece that is decidedly representative of the surrealist movement both in aesthetic and motif. In spite of Dali's incredible influence, surrealism was ultimately a short-lived movement, leaving its impression on the art world through a peak lasting from the mid-twenties until just prior to World War II. At a time when the Great Depression left the world with very little external inspiration, artists were finding more than enough ideas in the murky depths of their own anxieties, as such, painters like Dali would find…… [Read More]

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Art Museum Visit This Particular Piece of

Words: 1173 Length: 4 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 89601494

Art Museum Visit

This particular piece of art is a limestone statue, which in all likelihood, originally was a painted piece. Limestone was a precious mineral, and would have most likely been honed and by prepared by a servant or slave for the artisan to work with. This statue is considered to be sculpture in the round as there are no additional supports required (Barnet 113). A great deal of detail is carved into the headdress, and because of the realism qualities, the statue is of a woman. A number of these statues were designed in small decorative forms; however, many were crafted in life size and even larger forms. The proportions seem to be to scale. The Egyptian use of proportions is a method that depicts the human figure in a consistent way, using measurements derived from the observation of real bodies and related to Egyptian metrology (Baines 9). Every detail of the statues extremities are visually clear, with regard to the fingers, demarcation for toes, etc. The face is beautifully carved and the features are proportionate as well. Typically, these kinds of statutes represented a person of high status in Ancient Egypt.

Egyptian representation in art is considered…… [Read More]

Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 113-114.

Baines, C. Egyptian Figures, Personification, and the Iconology of a Genre. Warminster. 1985.
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History of Dada Art Movement

Words: 2082 Length: 7 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 28092106

History Of Dada Art Movement

There is a long list of movements that were begun for the sake of art, for instance cubism and surrealism. These two movements experienced grave criticism as they touched nihillism. On the other hand, movements like Dada have been admired and honored by the majorities (MobileReference).

If truth be told, the early 20th century brought a turbulent and disorderly change in the world. The First World War and the Russian Revolution tainted people's understanding of their worlds in an overwhelming manner. This new mind set of people was strongly reflected in the early twentieth century art movements as well. They were all, if seen in technical terms, were boldly modern and groundbreaking. In order to look into and explore the structure of realization, these movements moved further than the unruffled surface of traditional painting. However, perhaps Dada must be looked for its most compelling explorations of the modern psyche. It was a movement that put a great emphasis on mental investigation (Hopkins 1).

What is Dada?

According to Columbia Encyclopedia (2009), Dada or Dadaism was a nihilistic movement that was internationally began in 1916 by the European artists and writers and lasted till 1922. It…… [Read More]

"Dada." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2009. Questia. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. .

Duchamp, M. "The Richard Mutt Case." Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. Eds. Kristine Stiles, Peter Selz. Berkeley: University of California, 1996. 817. Print.
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Art What Defines High and

Words: 683 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 65506330

Race and gender might have always been rigidly determined social categories, but class was more mutable when it came to access to cultural emblems like the visual and literary arts (Levine).

In "Cartoon and Comic Classicism," Smooden argues that scholars are deeply conflicted about the boundaries between high and low art. Cartoons, and the analysis of cartoons, are a perfect example of how, when, and why the boundaries between highbrow and lowbrow become blurred. Cartoons are artistically discreet modes of visual culture, and they often convey social and political commentary that is far more in depth than canvases hanging on the walls of art museums. Some mass-produced popular art carries with it an element of subversion, buried beneath the surface and only visible as satire by those keen enough to notice it -- whether high or low on the social ladder. Artists like Mark Ryden embody lowbrow, popular art and yet convey a sense of aesthetics and insight not dissimilar from that of sophisticated animation.

The boundaries between high and low art are becoming blurred, thanks in part to thoughtful analyses of the ethics of the phenomenon. High and low are not adjectives used to qualify the quality of the…… [Read More]

Levine, Lawrence. Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America. Harvard University Press, 1988.

Peterson, Richard A. "Understanding Audience Segmentation: From Elite and Mass to Omnivore and Univore." Poetics 21 (1992).: 243-358.
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Art Conception Early Renaissance Imagine

Words: 2021 Length: 6 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 42445226

The function of the work of art would be to stand before the city, and to show the city as wisdom personified, and by implication show that the wisdom came from the works and power of the Medici. It would make an analogy between the city-state of Florence and the ancient city-state of Athens. Because Athens was a genuine republic, it might even deflect some criticism from the Medicis, who were technically supposed to be residents of a republic, even though they ruled from behind the scenes. The setting of the sculpture, next to David, outside the city gates would act as a powerful warning of the city's power (with the violence of the anvil and David's shotgun) as well as strike a balance between Classical representations of learning and the still-important tenants of the Catholic faith that must be honored in a world still dominated by the clergy.

The work would be seen by the people of Florence as yet another fitting tribute to their city's greatness by the Medicis, and to the neighboring city-states like Milan the statue would be seen as a warning. The glory of the statue would pay tribute to the new interest in the…… [Read More]

Essak, Shelly. "Art History 101 - Early Renaissance Art." 2007. 20 Apr 2007.

Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance." 2007. 20 Apr 2007.