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The Visual Analysis Essay must 800 words long (minimum), with text aligned to the left (not center, not justify), in 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins on all sides.

Grading form for Visual Analysis Essay:

Adequate length, correct format, title page:  10 points

Spelling, grammar and clarity: 10 points:  Essay is well-written, organized and coherent

Content:  30 points:

Description: Thorough and evocative description of the work of art

Analysis:  Sophisticated observation of the composition

Interpretation:  Articulate and insightful interpretations based on observations

Judgment: Expresses personal opinion in an educated manner

Proper use of vocabulary: Uses 2-4 vocabulary words correctly and in context

Content of Visual Analysis Essay:

Your visual analysis essay is to follow four general steps or activities: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment.  For more detailed information on these four steps, consult Feldmans The Four Steps of Art Criticism handout available below.


Before you begin your analysis you need to introduce your work of art. Tell the reader which museum you went to and which work of art you are writing about. Be sure to provide the title of the work of art and the artists name.


Before you analyze a work of art you need to describe it. Identify the subject or theme (ex: still life, portrait, history painting, landscape, etc.) and thoroughly describe the work of art.

Imagine that the reader has never seen the work of art before; your description should be detailed and evocative enough for the reader to imagine the work of art in his/her head.  A photograph is not a substitute for a thorough and accurate description.  Use vocabulary words where applicable.


Analyzing a composition strikes some students as challenging, but it simply involves separating the whole artwork into its parts. Consider the color scheme. Note how the artist has arranged the visual elements. What is the focal point of the piece? How is that element deemed the focal point?  Consider colors, patterns, lines, contrasts, etc. How does the artist lead your eye across the work of art?  Which areas are given special emphasis? Have any elements been exaggerated or abstracted?  How does the composition complement the content of the work of art and the artists intent?  Use vocabulary words where applicable.

Consult chapters 3 and 4 for guidance on this step.


This should be the longest part of your essay. Try to understand the meaning of the work of art based on your observations.  What do you think the artist was trying to say? What was the artists objective? Does the work convey any sort of mood or idea? Do you think there is an underlying message or moral to the work of art? Is there a certain objective or agenda promoted in the artwork?

Judgment/ Conclusion

This element of your essay is similar to the interpretation. You are telling me your reaction to the piece. Why did you choose this work of art, out of all the works in the museum? Discuss the strengths and merit of the work of art. Your judgment will be based on education as well as personal preference.


You are asked to use at least 2 vocabulary terms in your final essay, correctly and in context. Your terms can be used anywhere in the essay.

In addition to considering terms related to the technique and composition you can also draw a comparison between the work of art in your essay and a work or style studied in class. For instance, you can write about how “This work of art reminds me of the Impressionist style because ______.” Or, “This painting is similar to [work of art] because  _______.”

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10497?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&high=on&ao=on&ft=*&offset=20&rpp=20&pos=34 (this is a link to the image and the info on the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City website)

In 12-point, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, aligned to the center, please include the following information:

[Your Name] / CRN (5-digit class number) / Visual Analysis Essay / [Artists name.  Title of Work (in italics). Date.  Medium.  Dimensions. Name of museum or venue.  Name of exhibition] / Image of artwork (see below) (this is for the title page but i’ll just do that on my own)

Uploaded files: Tree Dwellers, The Hurrying River, and A Belle of 1810 are all example essays given so that might help some. The other 2 were just to help with the writing so they are worth giving a look over.

For the vocab words first should be the painting’s Medium <- (a liquid with which pigment is mixed by a painter) is Oil on canvas so that one is easy
2nd vocab word should be Perspective (appearance as determined by distance from the viewer because i think that is applicable to this painting)
3rd we’ll go with Still Life (a painting of inanimate objects such as fruit or flowers
4th and final lets do Contrast (a drastic difference between such elements as color or value (lightness/darkness)) Should be easy to fit in with the looming storm vs the calm forest / overlooking fields.

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