Compare and Contrast Essay

Compare and Contrast Essay
In this assignment, you will compare and contrast two works of art. Use scholarly
resources and visual input to back up your statements. Every opinion must be supported
by something you read or see.
• Choose two reputable works of art to compare and contrast (cannot be works
discussed in class).
• Essay must contain between 800 – 1,000 words. (Your works cited page is not
considered part of your word count.)
• 12-point font
• Double-spaced
• Proper MLA format for citations
• At least 2 scholarly sources from the library must be used and cited
• Include clear images of the artworks you are discussing
• Include your name and a title at the top of the paper
• Attach the paper as a word document to Blackboard
• Go to the Writing Center on campus to have your essay edited and make sure I am
notified. You will be receiving a separate grade for this.
Compare and contrast as much of the following as you can. You may have a brief paragraph
to introduce each artwork, but use the remaining points as a source for comparison. You
may of course introduce topics not listed below if that is where your research leads you.

• Who is the artist?
• What period or style is it?
• What is the name of the artwork?
• What are the dimensions and medium of the artwork?
• To what culture does it belong?
• What is its subject matter?

• Does its medium affect the content?
• What are its formal elements (line, color, composition, etc.)?
• Is it abstract, naturalistic, idealistic, realistic, or a combination?
• How is the subject being depicted?
• What is the origin of the style? Is it a combination of cultural styles?
Function/Symbolism (Often relates to cultural context)
• What was it used for? Why was it made?
• Is it sacred or secular?
• Does it communicate a message? It is asking for something?
• Does it contain symbolism? What does it mean?

Cultural Context
• What was happening historically, politically, socially, religiously, intellectually,
and/or economically at the time it was made? What were qualities of life at the time
and place the piece was made that may have effected its function and style? Do
historical events or overall aesthetic tastes relate to the image/story depicted?
Suggested Organization
• Introduce the artists and artworks to be discussed (title, size, medium, origins).
• Identify a main idea of the comparison and state it. Sometimes it is helpful to
begin writing about the similarities and differences of your artworks first and let
them lead you to a thesis.

Discuss the similarities between the images
This will likely be multiple paragraphs
• Style
• Function/Symbolism
• Cultural context

Discuss the differences between the images
This will likely be multiple paragraphs
• Style
• Function/Symbolism
• Cultural context

• Conclude with a paragraph that sums up your main ideas.
• Discuss the main similarities and differences as well as your own ideas about the

This is just a suggested way to organize your paper. Please use your best judgment when
organizing the content. Ensure the paper has an easy to follow train of thought. Also,
remember that this is a compare and contrast essay. The bulk of your writing should
consist of comparing and contrasting the chosen artworks.

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