What Is an Art History Essay?

Art|Art History

An art history essay is an essay that examines the development of art and its influence on society. It is often used as a tool to learn about the history of art, its purpose and meaning, and how it has evolved over time.

Art history essays are typically structured around specific pieces of artwork, or a particular artist or movement. They can be written on any number of topics related to art history, such as the evolution of a particular style or genre, the influence of an artist on his/her peers and contemporaries, or the impact of a particular period in history on the development of art.

The purpose of an art history essay is to explore how a particular piece or artist has contributed to our understanding of art in general. It seeks to understand why certain pieces were created and how they fit into the larger context of art throughout time.

An effective art history essay must be well researched and include evidence from primary sources (e.g., original artwork) as well as secondary sources (e., books and articles). Additionally, it should demonstrate an understanding of relevant historical context and an awareness that different interpretations can be made from any given work.

When writing an art history essay, it’s important to consider the elements that go into making each piece unique. For example, when writing about a painting by Claude Monet, it’s important to examine his use of color, composition and light in order to fully understand its significance. Similarly, when discussing sculpture by Auguste Rodin one should take into account his use of texture, form and scale in order to fully appreciate its impact on viewers.

Finally, while researching for an art history essay one should also consider what other artists have said about their work or what critics have said about it in order to gain greater insight into its importance within the broader context of art throughout time. By doing so one can gain a better understanding not only for their chosen work but also for other works created within similar styles or genres.


In conclusion, an art history essay is an examination into how certain pieces or artists have influenced our understanding of visual arts over time. It requires research from both primary and secondary sources as well as looking at elements like light composition and texture which make up each piece in order to gain full insight into its importance within the broader context of visual arts.