the 2 artworks you have to compare and describe
this is J.M.W. Turner, The Wreck of a Transport Ship, around 1810
This is Hokusai, The Great Wave, 1831
Writing about a Work of Art:
Use of English
Keep your register fairly formal.
Start by stating what you are going to do: e.g. This discussion/analysis/will focus on/a comparison of/
Paris Street, Rainy Day by Caillebotte, 1877. This oil on canvas painting is currently held in the Chicago Institute of Art. It is a large painting, measuring 2.39 by 1.85 meters.
Remember either italicize, underline or use “ inverted commas” for the title of a painting and give the name of the artist. Give the WOA’s medium (what it is made of) date, current location. If the WOA is especially large or small or the size is particularly relevant to your discussion give its dimensions. You may simply list this information, or incorporate it into a narrative description.
Use the present simple or present continuous for talking about the picture.
- There is a lamp post in the center of the composition. This has the effect of dividing the composition. It creates balance and symmetry. (PS)
- The lines of the composition are clear, simple and strong and contribute to a masterful control of perspective. (PS)
- The man and woman are walking along the street. (PC)
- Most of the figures are holding (PC)
Use the present perfect for describing how the artist has created the work of art.
- Caillebotte has cut off the figures at their knees.(PP)
- Caillebotte has faded the perspective into the horizon.
Also use the present perfect to talk about an action that has happened in the painting
- It has been raining (evidence: the street is wet).
If you are not sure that what you are saying is fact use phrases such as:
- It may be that/It might be that/ it could be that/ Caillebotte was suggesting the street fighting was finished.
- It may be that/It might be that/ it could be that/ Caillebotte was referring to the lack of interaction between people in modern urban life.
- To the left of the composition/ painting/canvas
- To the right of the composition/painting/canvas
- In the background/foreground/center/middle plane of the canvas
Use the past simple for talking about the artist’s life.
e.g. Caillebotte was born into a wealthy family. He did not need to work for a living. He painted in the impressionist style. He was a patron of the arts, specifically of the Impressionists. Most of his work stayed within his family and therefore he wasn’t well known or appreciated until the 1950s when his descendants began to sell his work.
But, when you are talking about the artists style that you can see in the painting before you- you can use either present simple or past simple.
e.g. Caillebotte was/is associated with the Impressionists, but his approach to form and color was/is more classical and realistic than the impressionists.
To describing the style, period that the WOA belongs to use either present simple or past simple.
Stylistically, this painting belongs to the Early Renaissance period.
This work of art was produced during the Paleolithic period.
This work of art was produced/was painted in the Cubist style.
Use of English:
Language for Making Comparisons between Works of Art
Writing about Similarities
|Both Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Burne Jones’ Beguiling of Merlin are addressing the theme of love, but in very different ways.|
|Similarly||The central figure in the Botticelli is a young woman with long flowing hair. Similarly, the Burne Jones portrays a beautiful young woman and the lines her body are long and sinuous.|
|in terms of||The Burne Jones and the Botticelli are similar in terms of subject matter.|
|Likewise||Botticelli’s Birth of Venus depicts a woman who is youthful and fresh looking. Likewise Burne Jones’ Beguiling of Merlin depicts a young woman.|
Writing about Differences
|Whereas||The composition of the Burne Jones is closed and the figures fill the picture space whereas the composition of the Botticelli is open and there is a sense of receding perspective.|
|While||The composition of the Burne Jones is closed and the figures fill the picture space while the composition of the Botticelli is open and there is a sense of receding perspective.|
|In contrast||The portrayal of the woman in Botticelli’s painting is idealized. In contrast Burne Jones’ depiction is more complex and perhaps even sinister.|
|However||The mood of the Birth of Venus is optimistic however Burne Jones has created an atmosphere of foreboding in his composition.|