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AH 11: Visual Culture since 1400 - Rose

Welcome AH 11

How to Use This Guide

My name is Miguel García and I am the research librarian leading your class session. If you need further help this semester (and beyond!) feel free to any of us here at the library at

This guide will direct you to print and online resources that you will need to use to find relevant materials for your AH 11 research paper.

Starting Your Research:

Use the steps in the boxes below to refine your research topic before beginning. It will save you time!

Before you even begin your research, find your selected work of art on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. It is important to have this in front of you so that you can use your formal analysis skills and the details provided in the museum's catalog record to formulate some research topics or questions.

Step 1: Formulating and Clarifying Your Research Topic

The Research Assignment:

Think of questions relating to your chosen work of art in the context of your research assignment requirements (consult Dr. Rose's handout carefully). These questions may relate to the object's:

  • subject and symbolism
  • historical context
  • style and function

Hint: Doing a thorough visual analysis of the art prior to this will help you generate questions. Also use details from the museum's information associated with the art to inform these questions.

Question Examples:

What interests you about the object? What do you notice?

Think: Who, What, When, Where, Medium, Subject, Composition/style

  •     Who is Angelica Kauffman? (artist)
  •     What is happening in this painting? (what)
  •     When did Angelica live? (historical context)
  •     Where? What era & place must I research? (historical context)
  •     What medium did she use? (materials and form)
  •     What is the subject? Who is Cornelia?
  •     Why was it made? (function)
  •     What distinguishes this artist’s style from others?

Step 2: Gathering Sources

You can use this guide to locate sources that will help answer your questions. 

Look at your research questions and decide what category each one falls into.


If I want to find out information about the Italian Renissance, I would probably start with the historical context tab.

If I want to learn about painting techniques, I would look under the style and function tab first. 

Also, use your research questions to isolate and brainstorm keywords that you can use to search online sources and look up in the index of print sources.

Common Misconceptions About This Assignment

  • I will find sources that refer directly to my work of art and / or artist. Not necessarily / probably not!
  • I will know what my paper thesis is when I begin researching. It's important to ask many questions about the artwork and seek answers to those questions through your research before refining your thesis.
  • I will be able to find all of my sources online. While this guide does include many valuable online sources, in the past, many students have found their best information in print books.

Class Example: Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to Her Children as her Treasures

Title: Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures CA. 1785

By: Angelica Kauffman

Retrieved from: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Class Example 2: View of Toledo


View of Toledo

Title: View of Toledo (Vista de Toledo) CA. 1599-1600

By: El Greco

Retrieved From: Metropolitan Museum of Art

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