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Painting 1: The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, 1787, oil on canvas.
Painting 2: Water Buffalo by Keran Li, 196x, ink wash on rice paper.

Important Points of an Art History Image Identity
Who is the artist or is the artist unknown? What period or style is it? What is the name of the artwork? To what culture does it belong? Of what material/medium is it made? What is its subject matter?

Style
How big is it? Does its medium affect the quality? What are its formal elements (line, color, composition, etc.)? Is it abstract, naturalistic, idealistic, realistic, or a combination? How is the subject being depicted? What is the origin of the style?
– Is it a combination of cultural styles?

Function/Symbolism (Often relates to cultural context)
What was it used for? Why was it made? It is sacred or secular? Does it communicate a message? Is it asking for something? Does it contain symbolism? What does it mean?

Cultural Context
What was happening historically, politically, socially, religiously, intellectually, and/or economically at the time it was made? What were the qualities of life at the time and place the piece was made that may have affected its function and style? Do historical events or overall aesthetic tastes relate to the image/story depicted?

Explore the differences and similarities of the two works being compared
using the four topic areas discussed above. Begin your essay with an opening paragraph stating the main point of the comparison? (Remember to add the basics such as identification.) Asking, “Why did the instructor choose these two particular works?” will lead you to thesis. Each paragraph should discuss what is the same and what is different about the works in regards to each topic listed above. (e.g. one paragraph will discuss what is similar and different regarding style.) Start with main concepts and then move to relevant details. (Remember to state the obvious.) Use complete sentences. Each paragraph should focus on one main concept/topic. Conclude with a paragraph which sums up your main ideas

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