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I have to write an essay on the subject below.  I understand that I need to pick one...

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I have to write an essay on the subject below.  I understand that I need to pick one painting each from the four eras listed below and then compare two pairs.  I am having difficulty getting started. I think the problem is that I don't understand how the periods relate to each other.

I really like Monet and his paintings of water lillies.  I also like Eduardo Manet and his" Breakfast in the Studio."  Can you please just help me get started and give me an outline on what I am supposed to do?  

The artistic styles of Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, and Impression developed in conversation with each other. Sometimes, a style might be an extension of something in a previous work, or serve as an argument against another work. 

Choose two different pairs of works and describe the relationships you observe between their artistic styles. 


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The assignment requires an understanding of the different styles of art, each style representing a different period of time, and each representative of the political, religious and/or cultural transformations occuring across time.  Different styles can involve different levels of outside involvement in how artists depicted images, and what kinds of images they painted.  For example, what was the role of the Church in the development of the Neoclassical style of art?  What was the difference between Neoclassicism and Realism?  Why was Impressionism controversial?  What was meant by Romanticism?

All of these are basic questions to which you will need to know the answer.  And all the answer are easy to find with a little effort.  In addition to the eNotes material, to which there are linkages below, there are many easily accessible art history websites that can help you compare and contrast eras and styles, and develop a better understanding of the influences of politics and religion in the development of the different schools.

One suggestion would be to pair Neoclassicism with Romanticism, and Impressionism with Realism, as there is a more natural evolutionary flow involved in each pair.  Impressionism and Realism both seek to depict images as they actually are, but Impressionism employed a vastly different brushstroke intended to move away from Realism, which employed very direct lines and very faithful reproductions of the images portrayed.  Impressionism represented a bold transformation in how composition was used, with figures presented only partially, or with their back to the viewer (compare Caillebotte's "Paris Street, Rainy Day," with its inclusion of the left side rear of one of the pedestrians with paintings from earlier eras, especially eras like the Neoclassical and Renaissance era paintings in which only frontal or, in some instances, partial side views of people are seen).

Realism was a rejection of the fantasized depictions of earlier eras, and certainly represented a movement away from the Renaissance era depictions of religious scenes and figures.  Its comparison with Impressionism, however, would provide an interesting exercise in art analysis, and one that might be worth considering.


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