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Method Image Analysis:

Main steps of the sketchy methodology.

A quick reminder of the method we worked on (Week 1) and applied (Turner, Constable and Cole).

1. Your general impression

2. Description : paratext + Wh- questions (What, where, when, who, how + adjective [how
big, how far?...],...?): just narrate what you see as if to a friend on the phone.
3. Instruments of analysis (how, why?):
1. formal tools,
2. contextual elements (cf. lectures)
3. logical inferences (derive, infer; exploration and deduction, relations between form and
4. Interpretation. (comment on visual stylistic devices: meaning of symbols, allegories,
5. Re-ordering of all your findings along a problematic issue, a transversal question.
6. Outline (French way: thematic, analytical, paradigmatic ...; in two or three main parts, each
enriched with two or three sub-parts)
7. Essay / commentary / final analysis.


We are talking about convincingly demonstrating a point of view, that is clearly making a point
about a relationship between the image and the viewer.
The analysis needs to be personal. From your preparation (steps 1 through 6), you will derive a
problematic issue (specific to the image + personal [yours only] + covering the whole range of
themes and topics emerging through your preparation): your task in the essay is then to convince the
reader: when reading your answer (outline + conclusion), s/he finds your analysis interesting (rich
and enriching, originality and subtlety, new point of view), clear (rhetorics) and 'logical' (it makes

More specifically:
Formal tools are many and very diverse. Not the place for an exhaustive list, what is important to
remember I think is that you should use the relevant ones (to-the-point) in your analysis (cogent)
and in your preparation ( = do not waste time).
Of course, for a painting, you do not want to forget asking yourselves questions about:
lines (curved, straight, contour, outline, horizontals, verticals, diagonals, vanishing point, focal
colors (shades, saturation, intensity, primary, complementary, cool, warm),
the lighting (and darks),
frame and pictorial area (height, width, depth and proportions),
organization (composition, foreground, middle ground, background, geometry [symmetry, axis...],
space and depth, ...),
objects and figures, perspective, watcher, movement,
as the main categories to then interrogate with finer tools.

Contextual elements include the historical context, art history, movements and genres (Realism,
Romanticism, Expressionism, Impressionism, Modernism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism,
Fauvism, and Cubism; Portraiture versus Landscape painting, Genre painting, Still life painting),
biographical elements, comparable images by other authors, other images by the same author...
Do not separate manner and matter (form and content): to the contrary, your task is to link both so
as to present a cogent (= very convincing) analysis.

Last, but not least, write in correct, if possible good, English. Correct English only supposes you
abide by grammar rules (self exercises) and use relevant vocabulary (cf. lectures and references).