Methods of Art History

Focus Work

This individual project developed over the course of the semester, and was structurally broken down into three categories: the descriptive, the visual, and the theoretical.

Descriptive Analysis

My first essay focuses solely on the physical appearance of Watteau’s Ceres (Summer). This essay treats the work as a tactile object, recognizing the application and textures presented through the work. It also follows a very confused, rather intelligent caterpiller on the way.

Visual Analysis

Following my descriptive essay, I worked to produce a visual (formal) analysis. This practice systematically goes through each element within a work (in this case, Watteau’s Ceres), identifies it, describes it, and analyzes how it contributes to the work as a whole. It differs from the descriptive in that it promotes inferencing in regards to the artist’s conscious decisions.

Theoretical Analysis

Finally, my concentration shifted towards theoretical exploration. More precisely, I employed Iconographic theory to scrutinize the symbolic messages embedded in Ceres. Within this essay, I provide a contextualization of the painting’s contemporary history and examine how Watteau would have acquired an understanding of the symbols integrated into the piece, a canon of symbols used to represent summer since the medieval times.

Antoine Watteau's
Ceres (Summer). Image of woman, reclining against figure of a lion. In the clouds.
Antoine Watteau. Ceres (Summer), c. 1717/1718. Oil on Canvas.

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