Your Museum paper will be a visual analysis of an American work of art in the permanent
collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. It can be a painting, photograph, or sculpture –
whatever appeals to you. The paper will be around 7 ½ pages, typed, and double-spaced
(12-point font, Times New Roman). The assignment will be graded on form as well as content
so that spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax are to be considered with care. Please
include a reproduction of the work discussed with your paper.
PART 1, formal analysis:
This part of the paper requires a detailed description of the formal qualities of the art object
(formal as in “related to the form,” not a black-tie dinner). In other words, you are looking at the
individual design elements, such as composition (arrangement of parts of or in the work),
color, line, texture, scale, proportion, balance, contrast, and rhythm. Your primary concern
in this part of the assignment is to attempt to explain how the artist arranges and uses these
various elements.
Usually you have to go and look at the object for a long time and then write down what you see.
As you will quickly see from the page length of the assignment, I expect a highly detailed
description of the object. You might struggle with this assignment because it is hard to translate
what you see into words– don’t give up, and take more notes than you might think you need.I
want you to look, and look carefully. Think of the object as a series of decisions that an artist
made. Your job is to figure out and describe, explain, and interpret those decisions and why the
artist may have made them. In writing a formal analysis, focus on creating a logical order so that
your reader does not get lost. Do not ever assume that because your reader has seen the work,
he or she knows what you are talking about. Here are a couple of options:
-Summarize the overall appearance, then describe the details of the object
-Describe the composition and then move on to a description of the materials used (acrylic,
watercolor, plaster, etc.)
-Begin discussing one side of the work and then move across the object to the other side
-Describe things in the order in which they draw your eye around the object, starting with the
first thing you notice and moving to the next
-Then comment on the significance of what you have observed
PART 2, stylistic analysis:
Now look at your object and talk about style. Please discuss how your object fits into a particular
stylistic category— for example, realism, abstraction, luminism, etc. You will still focus on the
formal qualities of your object, but now you are expected to make a conclusion about the
-How does the work fit the stylistic category? Please explain by discussing at least three works
of art that we have talked about in our course.
-And/or how does the work not fit the stylistic category? Please explain by discussing at least
three works of art that we have talked about in our course.
-How do different American works with the same type of content look totally different from each
other: For example, because of the style (for example, a painting may be a still life, but different
examples show diverse approaches to three-dimensionality, etc.)
A stylistic analysis will acquaint you with some of the larger historical trends and forces in
American culture and how they influence the development of Art.
My Chosen Artwork:
William Sidney Mount, The Power of Music, 1847.
Artists and Their Works that My Class Has Discussed:
William Sidney Mount, The Painter’s Triumph, 1838
George Caleb Bingham, The Jolly Flatboatmen in Port, 1857
James Audubon, Golden Eagle Female Adult, 1833-34
Robert Scott Duncanson, Blue Hole, Little Miami River, 1851
Carlton E. Watkins, Best General View, Mariposa Trail, 1862
Martin johnson Heade, Thunderstorm on Narragansett Bay, 1868
Moses Jacob Ezekiel, Stonewall Jackson, 1909
Winslow Homer, Snap the Whip, 1872
Winslow Homer, The Cotton Pickers, 1876
Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave, 1843
Thomas Eakins, Willian Rush Carving his Allegorical Figure of the Schuylkill River,
James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter, 1872
Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara, 1857
Winslow Homer, The Life Line, 1884
Anonymous, Elizabeth Freake and Baby Mary, c. 1671-4
Anonymous, John Freake, 1671-4
Thomas Smith, Self-Portrait, c. 1690
Justus Englehardt Kuhn, Henry Darnell III as a Child. C. 1710
John Smibert, Dean George Berkeley and his Family (The Bermuda Group), 1729
Joshua Reynolds Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces, 1765
John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778
Charles Wilson Peale, General George Washington at Battle of Princeton, 1779
Gilbert Stuart, George Washington (Vaughn Portrait), 1795
Gilbert Stuart, George Washington (Lansdowne Portrait), 1796
Jean-Antoine Houdon, George Washington, 1788
Edward Savage, The Washington Family, 1789-96
Anonymous. Probably from New England, George Washington and His Family, c. 1810
Charles Wilson Peale, Artist in His Museum, 1822
James Peale, Still Life: Apples, Grapes, Pear, 1822-5
Margaretta Angelica Peale, Still-Life with Watermelon and Peaches, 1828
Charles Bird King, The Poor Artist’s Cupboard, 1815
John Lewis Krimmel, Fourth of July in Center Square Philadelphia, 1810-12
William Sidney Mount, Bargaining for a Horse, 1835
William Sidney Mount, Eel Spearing in the Setauket, 1845
George Caleb Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845
Howard Chandler Christy, The Signing of the Constitution of the United States,
Thomas Cole, The Oxbow, 1836
Timothy O’Sullivan, Ancient Ruins in the Canyon de Chette, Arizona, 1873
Nathaniel Jocelyn, Cinque, 1839
Theodor Kaufmann, On to Liberty, 1867
John Rogers, The Fugitive’s Story, 1869
John Singleton Copley, Mrs. Thomas Boylston, 1766
John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere, c 1769
Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe, 1770
Lily Martin Spencer, Still-Life with Berries and Currants, c. 1859-60
Lily Martin Spencer, Kiss me and You’ll Kiss the ‘Lasses, 1856
David Gilmore Blythe, Art versus Law, 1859-60
John Vanderlyn, Murder of Jane McCrea, 1803-4
Charles Bird King, Young Omahaw, War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees, 1822
George Catlin, Mah-To-Toh-Pa (Four Bears), Mandan Chief, 1832-34
John Froelich, The Adoption of the Constitution, 1935
George Catlin, The Last Race, Part of Okipa Ceremony (Mandan), 1832
Seth Eastman, Lacrosse Playing Among the Sioux Indians, 1851
Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1872
Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits, 1849
Joseph Turner, The Slave Ship, 1840
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Pastoral or Arcadian State, 1834
Frederic Edwin Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859
Albert Bierstadt, The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, 1863
Fitz Hugh Lane, Boston Harbor at Sunset, 1850-5
George Inness, Sunny Autumn Day, 1892
Richard Caton Woodville, Old ’76 and Young ’48, 1849
Richard Caton Woodville, War News from Mexico, 1848
Emanuel Leutze, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way (Westward Ho!),
Robert S. Duncanson, Uncle Tom and Little Eva, 1853
John Rogers, Slave Auction. 1859
Eastman Johnson, A Ride for Liberty: The Fugitive Slaves, c. 1862-63
Matthew Brady, On the Antietam Battlefield, 1862
Matthew Brady, General Robert Potter and Staff, Matthew Brady Standing By A
Tree, 1865
Winslow Homer, Prisoners from the Front, 1866
Winslow Homer, Long Branch, New Jersey, 1869
Winslow Homer, Fox Hunt, 1893
Winslow Homer, Right and Left, 1909
Thomas Eakins, Max Schmidtt in a Single Scull, 1871
Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic, 1875
Thomas Eakins, The Pole Vaulter, 1884
Thomas Eakins, Nude Woman Wearing a Mask, c. 1866
Thomas Eakins, Walt Whitman, 1887
Photography of Amelia van Buren, by Thomas Eakins, 1891
Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren, 1889-91
Henry O. Tanner, The Banjo Lesson, 1893
Henry O Tanner, The Thankful Poor, 1894
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Resurrection of Lazarus, 1896
Edmonia Lewis, Forever Free, 1867
Edmonia Lewis, Hagar, 1875
James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girls, 1862
James Abbot Mc.Neill Whistler, Symphony in White No 2: The Little White Girl,
James Abbot McNeil Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black: the Artist’s
Mother. 1871
Homer, Breezing Up, 1876
James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket,
William Merritt Chase, In the Studio, c. 1898