Compare/Contrast Essay: Compare two works of art found in the textbook. How were these works made, and what are they made from?

In order to learn some of the basic skills necessary to research and develop a formal analysis of a work of art, you will write 2 Compare/Contrast essays> Each essay will compare two works of art found in the textbook. The selection of artworks for each paper is up to the student, but must be selected only from chapters covered in our course (and it is recommended that you choose works that we have covered in our reading previous to the due date of the assignment). You may not write about any work of art that you have already written about in your weekly Discussion Boards. Please read all 4 pages of this assignment sheet before beginning your work.

Your formal analysis must be:

  • – minimum two FULL pages (maximum 2.5 pages)
  • – double-spaced in a 12-point legible font
  • – MLA format with a Works Cited page. (See the MLA Style Guide found under Course
  • Documents)
  • – The title of paintings, sculptures, photographs, printmaking works of art should ALWAYS be in
  • – Be certain of what medium of art you are referring to. Not all works of art are “pictures”; do a
  • little research and refer to it as a painting, sculpture, work of architecture, photograph, etc.
  • -Wikipedia is not an acceptable source. This is a user generated with little to no fact checking
  • so the information cannot be considered reliable.

The first stage of your analysis is to find information about the works and their respective artists, and to document that information. Use the sheet provided to help you gather important information. Be sure to include information about the possible artist influences and reference any special subject matter depicted in the works. After you have had a chance to research the basic information about your particular works of art, try to describe it using the elements of art that we have discussed in class.


The second stage of the assignment will include taking the information you have about the works (including your analysis of the elements of art, subject matter and artistic media), and presenting it in essay form.


The third and last stage of your analysis will be to refine your writing and to make any changes necessary before the next class. THIS FINAL DRAFT IS DUE, ATTACHED TO THE SUBMISSION POINT, BY SUNDAY AT 11:59 P.M. OF THE SESSION IN WHICH IT IS DUE. SEE COURSE CALENDAR AND SESSION FOLDERS FOR DUE DATES.



  • All sources should be cited and included in the Works Cited page. Citations should be in MLA format. Plagiarism will result in a zero (0) for the assignment and the responsibility for proof regarding the originality of a paper rests with you, not the instructor.
  • If you are absent on the due date it is your responsibility to make sure the paper or project is still turned in on time.
  • Late papers and projects may be accepted with the following late penalties:

o If it is turned in within 24 hours of the due date there will be a 10% reduction.

o After 24 hours and up to 2 DAYS there will be a 50% reduction.

o After 2 DAYS the paper or project will no longer be accepted for credit.




Compare/Contrast Essay –

The Formal Analysis


Your analysis will consist of two typewritten pages about the works that you have chosen. This analysis will be in paragraph form, with an introductory paragraph, a conclusion paragraph, and at least three body paragraphs. Your formal analysis must be two full pages, double-spaced in a 12-point legible font (Times New Roman preferred), and in MLA format with a Works Cited page. Each paragraph should be composed of at least three sentences, with no sentence more than three lines long.


Some of the things that you may want consider in your analysis are:


Subject matter – What is depicted in these works? Does the subject matter include any images from ancient mythology or Biblical stories? Is the subject matter a reflection of the time and place in which the artists lived? Were these works done for a famous patron? Include the name of the donor(s) sponsoring the work, if these people are known.


Artistic media – How were these works made, and what are they made from? Are these artists known for any special techniques in their work? How do these works compare with other works from this artist or other artists from the same era?


Elements of Art – Describe each one for your works; also consider the Principles of Design in your analysis.


Be sure to provide smooth transitions between all of your paragraphs. Examples: “Another way that the artist has shown the relationship between colors in the work is…. The quick, broken use of line is mirrored in the texture through…. As we move along the face, we also see….”


Spelling and grammar are as important to your piece as any other aspect of the work, if not more so. If your work has spelling or grammatical errors, then it is clear that you have not put much effort into the piece and your grade will be affected.


Helpful Websites for Preparing the Compare/Contrast Essay

Writing a Compare/Contrast Art History Essay, from the Academy of Art University

Writing the Art History Paper, from the Dartmouth University Writing Program

Compare/Contrast Guide, from the ReadWriteThink Site

Helpful Art Links

Mark Harden’s Artchive

-click on the Mona Lisa to access a listing of artists and their work

Christopher Witcombe’s Art History Resources on the Web

Worldwide Art Resources


Researching a Work of Art: Gathering the Basics

Use this paper as a guide in the analysis of each of your works of art. You may want to make two copies of this sheet – one for each work.

Artist: _________________________________________________________________

Year born/year died: ____________________________________________________

Influences? _____________________________________________________________

Style associated with this artist: ____________________________________________

Title of work: ___________________________________________________________

Background info on work: ________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Critical Analysis of the Work:

Line: __________________________________________________________________


Shape/Form: ____________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Color: _________________________________________________________________


Value: _________________________________________________________________


Texture: ________________________________________________________________



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