How Do You Write an Art History Essay?

Art|Art History

Writing an art history essay can be a daunting task for many students; however, it is an important part of the learning process. There are several aspects to consider when writing an art history essay, including research, evaluation and analysis. Each of these steps should be taken with thoughtfulness and detail for a successful essay.

Research: When researching for an art history essay, students must pay attention to detail. This means researching the artist’s life and works, as well as any other relevant information that may be needed to complete the essay.

It is important that the student fully understand the artwork they are discussing in order to accurately evaluate it. This can include looking at different interpretations of the artwork, its historical context and any cultural influences it may have had.

Evaluation: After researching the artwork, students must evaluate it in order to form their own opinion about it. This requires looking closely at the artwork and considering its formal elements (line, color, shape etc.

), its content (themes and symbolic meaning) and its context (including the artist’s intentions). Students should also think critically about how each element contributes to their interpretation of the artwork.

Analysis: Analysis requires taking all of the research and evaluation from before and using it to make a cohesive argument about the artwork. Students should consider how their own personal reaction influences their interpretation as well as other perspectives on the artwork. It is important to draw connections between different points in order to make a strong argument with evidence.


Writing an art history essay is a challenging but rewarding experience which allows students to develop critical thinking skills while exploring different aspects of art history. By conducting thorough research, evaluating carefully and analyzing thoughtfully, students can produce a successful essay which will demonstrate their understanding of both artistic expression and historical context.