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The art of Newgrange took time and effort to carve, so it must have had deep significance for the artists and those around them. It is certainly likely that this related to spiritual beliefs, but we know so little about the language and lives of the people that we can only guess at its meaning. However, this makes it all the more impressive, and as we look at those silent stones, we can begin to imagine what the people might have believed.


Check your essay!


* Does it show understanding of the question? * Does it adequately discuss the topic? * Does it address part (b) of the question?


* Does it show knowledge of the subject matter?


* Does it convey enthusiasm for the subject?


* Does it use references well without using chunks of text directly from the sources?


* Does it express ideas fluently, imaginatively and in an individual way?


* Does it include sketches that support your points?


Writing about art Formal analysis


This may sound intimidating, but exam questions commonly ask you to discuss a statement referring to subject, style, colour, etc.


Analysis of the visual elements is simply writing about what you can see. You also need some knowledge of the subject, but your focus should be on the visual elements. These are aspects like line, colour, composition and style, and a description of the effects that these have on the viewer.


NOTE!


Each point should tie back to the overall theme of the essay.


Note how the following paragraphs respond to a question from the Higher Level paper from 2014.


‘Giotto (c.1267–1337) created an illusion of depth on a flat surface and portrayed dramatic events as if they were happening on a stage.’


Discuss this statement with reference to a named work by Giotto, commenting on subject matter, composition, style and the techniques used in his work.


Sample answer:


In The Lament for Christ, Giotto used dramatic foreshortening, correct proportions and a balanced composition to present lifelike figures set against a realistic background.


Skilled use of light and shade makes the figures look real and three-dimensional, but the characters have individual facial expressions and gestures. They are like actors in a silent drama and show real and deep human emotion.


These grief-stricken friends and apostles of Jesus are gathered around to mourn his death after he has been removed from the cross. In the sky above, angels wring their hands and cry out in grief. This focuses even more attention on the scene.


The angels would have probably been even more prominent originally against the blue of the sky, but the colour has faded somewhat because Giotto used azurite rather than the more expensive lapis lazuli to make blue. This was not compatible with lime in the wet plaster and was applied dry, or a secco.


The hills, trees and rocks in the background, however, create the impression of real depth in the scene, like a backdrop on a stage. The composition has been cleverly organised so that the slope of the hill brings the eye directly to Christ’s head, which is cradled so gently in the arms of his mother. This sharp diagonal line of the hill is balanced on the left by two upright figures. Two other figures in the foreground sit with their backs towards us. This


INTRODUCTION xxiii


INTRODUCTION

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