Art History essays are not radically different from other sorts of essays you may have written before, but they do have some specific concerns. This section contains the Art History Rules for Essay Writing, and they should help.

The Three Pillars of Art History

These three forms of analysis form the basis for most Art Historical writing.
Visual Analysis
Contextual Analysis
Theoretical Analysis

Main Essay Types

These are not the only types of essays, but they should give you a sense for the sorts of structures common in academic essays:

  • Monographic Study (focused on ONE work)
  • Vertical Study (multiple related works from one culture/context, over a span of time, generally looking at changes)
  • Horizontal Study (multiple related works from one or more culture/context from the same period)
  • Comparative Study (2/3 works with points of contact and difference, eg. medieval and modern works of the same subject)
  • Reception Study (1 or more works, considered in relation to different contexts/audiences)
  • Source Study (what work[s] influenced this work?)
  • Survey Study (all works fitting the subject or era, not to be attempted in undergrad essays!)

Essay Writing Basics

A note on web sources
Evaluate your essay
Formatting example page