I chose this painting
— Who is the artist?
— What is the subject or title?
— Where and when was the work painted?
2. Subject matter:
— What type of painting is it?
d. Scene of everyday life (genre)
e. Still life
h. Architectural view
i. Abstraction (abstracted/ abstract)
j. Combine (additional media added to painting)
— If the painting seems to belong to two categories, does one dominate?
3. Frame and pictorial area:
–What is actual size of picture? Is it horizontal or vertical? (Height precedes width)
–What is the proportion of height to width? (Example 2:1 or 2:4)
–What is the relationship of the shapes to the frame? Harmonious? Discordant? Is the canvas format appropriate for the subject?
–Does the frame cut the shapes? (The area inside the painting considered as borders)
–What materials are used for support: wood, canvas, cardboard, paper?
–What kinds of colors are used: oil, tempera, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, ink?
–How is the paint applied: thickly or thinly, with a fine or coarse brush, by other means? Palette knife or fingers?
–Are colors transparent or opaque?
–Have other materials been used such as paper collage?
5. Composition (arrangement of the parts that form the whole):
is it simple or complex? Meaning geometrically ordered or free and
seemingly accidental? Do some forms dominate others? Is there symmetry?
Is the painting crowded or spacious? Do the shapes vary or do they
–Individual units subjects or objects: are there many
or few? Are they large or small (in relation to both the outside world
and to the picture area)? Are the shapes regular or irregular? What
kinds of overall patterns do they form? What is the proportion between
solid and backgrounds broken areas? What is emphasis on center or
marginal areas (borders inside)? How ornate are the shapes? Are forms
building or flat? How are marginal areas treated?
–Lines: are lines clear or obscure? Subservient or assertive? Angular or curved? Are there lines at all?
are they bright or subdued (‘saturated’ or ‘low-key’)? Plain or rare?
Are there many colors or few (‘wide’ or ‘limited’ palette)? Does any
color dominate? Are the dominant colors warm (reds, oranges, yellows) or
cool (blue, grey, greens)? Are there moderate or extreme contrasts?
Large areas or small patches?
–Light: is there a consistent
light source? Is the source inside or outside the picture? Are their
strong or muted contrasts? How much shadow? What is the function of
shadows: to clarify form or space, emphasize certain parts of the
picture, create mood?
–Space: is the space shallow or deep,
open or screened? Is the emphasis on solids or voids (i.e. intervals)?
What kind of perspective is used (linear (renaissance), aerial)? Is the
main interest near or far? Is space suggested by planes (planar) in
depth or recession? Overlapping (in registers)? What is the degree of
illusion (use of chiaroscuro)?
6. Function: what use was the work intended for?
Is the painting an altar piece, a devotional image, a private use
cabinet picture, etc? Was it made differently because of the
intended functions? If so, how? How might function affect form?
In addition to the previous questions please feel free to use the following if they apply.
Considerations For Different Types of Subject Matter
–How much of the figure is shown?
–How large is it in the frame (how much pictorial space does the figure occupy)?
–What is background or setting?
–Is the figure in action?
–Is there any indication of the figure’s trade, profession, class, etc.?
–What is the figure’s relationship to the spectator (intimate, aloof)?
–What kind of clothing is the figure wearing: rich or plain, tight or loose-fitting,
formal or casual, etc?
–What is the proportion of face to figure?
–How does the portrait deviate from the norm?
you write about a portrait, remember that the primary object of your
analysis is not the historical personage who is the subject of the
portrait, but the character the artist has created in the picture.
Always remember that what you see is the artist’s interpretation, which
stresses aspects important to him or to the model or to their time.
2. Figural scenes:
–What kind of story is depicted? (religious, mythological, historical, allegorical, scene from everyday life)
–Is the action calm or dramatic?
–Are there many figures or few?
–Are the figures small or large in relation to the size of the picture?
–What is the setting? (Indoors, outdoors)
–What role does the setting play?
–Is the main action stressed or obscured?
was the original function of the picture? Was it done for a public or
private place? Is it complete or a fragment? Is it possible to make a
reasoned statement about the artist’s aim? Does he wish to elevate the
spirit, instruct, moralize, entertain, and satisfy his own need for
–What is the size of the area shown?
–What is the spectator’s viewpoint?
–How far can we see into the picture?
–What kind of place is shown? Cultivated fields, woods, riverbank?
–Can the season or time of day be determined?
–What kind of human activity is shown, if any?
–What kind of architectural elements appear and what are their thematic and spatial relationships to the site?
–What is the proportion of cloud to sky? Plain to elevation? Water to land? Open to closed areas?
–What is the general character of the scene: attractive, forbidding,
calm, turbulent, spectacular, intimate? What elements determine the
effect: lighting, color scheme, spatial organization?
–What consistent is the structure of the whole?
–What is the degree of variety or sameness?
–Does the work seem spontaneous or calculated?
–How do the formal elements convey theme, mood, and visual interest?
That’s a landscape art
I chose this painting