Assignment for Paper #1: on Painting

Check syllabus for details (pages required, etc.).

Compare and contrast these two paintings (both found on the Google Cultural Institute site—search for Hyacinthe Rigaud and Gilbert Stewart):

Louis XIV, King of France (1638-1715) 1702, Palace of Versailles, by Hyacinthe Rigaud (make sure you have the actual painting by Rigaud and not the painting “after” Rigaud);

George Washington 1797, The White House, by Gilbert Stuart.

1.Take notes as you look carefully at the first painting (the way we have done in class as we try to see exactly what is there).

2.Write down questions that arise as you try to make sense of the painting.

3.Use the details from your notes to answer the questions in another set of notes.

4.Repeat this process for the other painting.

5.Now write down notes about how the two paintings are similar. How are they different? Only at this point should you actually start to write your paper. Only now will you have the first ideas that you can turn into an analysis of the paintings.

6.Write a detailed paragraph about the painting of the French King. How is he depicted? What does the painting emphasize? What are you supposed to think of Louis XIV as you see his portrait?

7.Do the same for the painting of the first American President.

8.Now write a paragraph about what they have in common and how they differ.

9.Write an introductory paragraph that will let a reader know what you intend to do.

10.Write a conclusion that gives a summary of what you have argued.

11.Finally, in a separate short paragraph, only three sentences at most, write your own feelings about the paintings, your own personal response. Everything before this paragraph should be the kind of careful analysis of what is actually there, as opposed to anything personal.

12.And when you are done, choose a title for the essay that will make a potential reading want to read further.

Do not do any secondary research whatsoever for this assignment. Do not use the details next to the Google image. We’re not trying to find what others have said about the paintings.We’re not trying to figure out how the works fit in the context of other paintings by Rigaud and Stewart. We’re not interested in anything but our own careful analysis of these two paintings. That’s exactly what you’ll get credit for—your own insights based on your own readings of the paintings. If you draw on the ideas of anyone else, you must cite them, otherwise that will be considered plagiarism for this paper. Ideas from others, however, will not get you any points in this case. Your own ideas and your own analysis are what matter here. Here is the one historical fact you should use: The first painting is of a king who ruled about 80 years before the French Revolution, which occured in 1789; the second painting is of a president who took office after the American Revolution. You might well ask whether that historical difference shows up in the paintings (one might expect it to). If it does, then why are the paintings somewhat similar?


Author: Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at

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