Analysis of Michelangelos Madonna of the Stairs

| February 14, 2014

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Outline of Analysis
Introduction: One short paragraph introducing the work and its significance. Do this last.
Identity information: This is the technical fact sheet of the work, similar to a label. It should have all available data including artist’s name, title, year of production, medium, dimensions, provenance, present location, etc. Can be done in bullet form.
Description (1): What I See. Do this before you have researched the piece. It is important that you first describe what you see, without interpreting the piece. Start always from the main scene and move to progressively more detail. (Example: “This painting shows a landscape at night with three figures on horseback…” Here you should not write information that you gained from research such as “Balthazar, one of the three magi from the Orient, is searching for the Christ child”). You must distinguish here between what you see and what you know about the story. Describing comes first, the story and context come later. Describe the Who, What, When, Where as it is apparent from the visual record. Describe details of figures, spaces, objects, text, landscape, costumes, weather, etc.
Description (2): What My Research Has Taught Me. What is the story that is told? Is the story part of a larger historical, religious, political, social etc. context? Was it’s original location significant? What other relevant details result from the research?
Description (3): How Is The Piece Organized In Terms Of Design Elements? Which design elements play the main and which a secondary role? Analyze form, composition, color, line, shape, texture, space, etc. Are there relevant technical aspects of production? See chapter II of Adams, History of Western Art.
Intent and interpretation: Which message did the artist try to communicate? Which observations from B, C, D and E, support this? In comparison to the reality you know, how and why does the artist change reality? Is this piece realistic, naturalistic, stylized, abstracted, etc.? If so, how is this achieved? Are there hidden symbols or significances?
Art historical style: Into which art historical style context does the piece belong? What is the evidence to support your assessment? What other works does this one relate to? Is this a work that relates to other pieces by the same artist? Is it part of an established tradition or type? What are its innovative features within that tradition? Do we know how the work was received in the artist’s time and since then?
Personal Assessment. This should be a brief statement to explain how researching this work changed your opinion about it? What does the work mean to you now?
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