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Writing an Art History Research Paper

Studying art history, you learn to transform your non-verbal impressions into words. Instead of simply looking at artwork and realizing that you “just love” it, or draw particular associations, thoughts, and feelings from it, you learn to understand how the artist managed to convey these impressions to you. You study the meaningful details of artwork, artistic styles and movements, historical backgrounds and events, and the roles of the different colors and materials that artists use. Writing a research paper helps you summarize and showcase this knowledge.

Content of your art history research paper

Your art history research paper outline will be generally the same as it is for other essay papers. Your work should consist of:

  • The introduction, where you write which piece of art your paper will be about, the numbering (the numbers of the illustrations representing the artworks) and the thesis statement. The thesis consists of the answer to your paper’s question and a short description of how you are going to come to this conclusion.

  • The main body paragraphs will tell about your research. Remember that each paragraph should convey a single idea. A paragraph usually consists of the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. It may also include a transition to the next paragraph, which will make your paper more connected and easy to read.

  • The conclusion to your research. It should be strongly connected to the thesis statement and summarize your work.

  • The illustration and the bibliography sections should be placed in the end of the document.

Before making your art history research paper outline, determine what exactly your task means and what method of research is expected from you. When composing the text, try not to overload it with information that may be meaningful and important but is not necessary to answer the main question.

Methods of discussion in art history

In order to answer the question of the research, you may need to use one or more types of academic discussion used in art history:

  • A description and formal analysis of the artwork gives a detailed description of how the artwork looks, what it is made of, and how it is made. It describes the composition, light, proportions, and all the other elements.

  • A historical analysis pertains to the historical background of the artwork, the time when it was made, to whom it was made, and what was happening in the artist’s life and in the life of the society at that time.

  • Iconography and iconology explain symbols. A single detail or a set of details in the artwork may convey a specific symbolic meaning. Here, you discuss what meaning these symbols have, when they occur in history, how they differ from the similar symbols in other artworks, and how they contribute to the meaning of the artwork you study.

  • Criticism and theoretical discussion consider the artwork through the lens of ideas, historical events, political movements, psychology, people’s actions, or other influences.

  • The study of patronage is concerned with the people who ordered, influenced and owned the artwork, about the circumstances of its production and life.

  • A stylistic analysis explain how the work fits or does not fit the given stylistic movement, how the artwork’s style contributes to the impression and meaning it conveys.

  • A comparative analysis gives a comparison of two pieces of art.

If you feel that it is too hard for you to write your art history research paper outline and to complete the task, consider getting our help. We will provide you with an art history research paper, written by a qualified writer following all the necessary requirements. Feel free to contact us any time.


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