Comparing and Contrasting two Works of Art

Self Portrait by Albrecht Dürer (16th c. Northern) vs. Self Portrait by Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun (Enlightenment/18th c. French)


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Your Final for this class is to write a three- to five-page compare-and-contrast research paper that investigates how two works of art from different periods styles illustrate a particular theme in art. Your comparison must focus on the artists and period styles covered in LA 121 and must include at least ONE artwork from a period style introduced after Module 7.

The pair you choose must be drawn from two different period styles. For example, you may compare a Mannerist artwork with a Baroque artwork. However, you may NOT compare a Mannerist artwork with another work from the Mannerist period.

It is important to choose two images that have a number of things in common as well as a number of unique aspects to compare.

Try to choose works of art that you find interesting or artists that you are interested in learning more about. Stay away from simple comparisons like Michelangelo’s David versus Bernini’s David. If you have trouble finding a set to compare, consult with your instructor before you submit your proposal. You might start off with one work of art that you really know you like and your instructor can help you select one to compare it to.


Before you write your paper, you must submit a proposal for approval. Your proposal will help ensure that you are planning an appropriate comparison.

Here is the Term Paper Assignment. Please review it before you begin working on your proposal worksheet.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a 3-5 page essay comparing and contrasting two works of art from two different styles covered in this course between the periods of the High Renaissance and Impressionism. One of your selected works of art must be from AFTER the midterm (Modules 8-14) You must cover the following points in your comparison:

Introduction and Thesis

  • Introduce the artwork titles, period styles and artists names
  • Briefly state what you believe is significant about these artworks
  • In other words… Tell your reader what works of art you will be discussing and why you think they are important

Stylistic analysis

  • Correctly identify artwork titles, period styles and artists names
  • Compare the artworks by discussing key stylistic characteristics associated with artists and period styles
  • Apply art history vocabulary correctly and uses it to support your stylistic analysis
  • In other words… What make these works stylistically significant?

Cultural analysis

  • Compare the artworks by discussing key cultural issues associated with artists and periods
  • Discuss how the cultural context of each period influenced the artistic development of the period style (Make connections between cultural context and style)
  • In other words… What makes these works culturally significant?

Conclusion and Thematic Connection

  • Analyze the ways art can affect and/or reflect cultural, political and social issues
  • Draw conclusions about the artist / society which produced the artwork from the comparison
  • In other words… What “Thematic Connection” can you make between the two works of art that helps you better understand them or the culture they represent?


  • Incorporate 3 our more sources (outside of module text) to support your analysis
  • Properly cite your sources using MLA format
  • Include a list of “Works Cited”

Written Mechanics

  • Use of grammar, spelling and punctuation correctly throughout your paper
  • Proofread
  • In other words…there should be no mechanical errors!

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