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 on the University of Miami campus 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.
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