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Visual Analysis of Rigaud’s, Portrait of Louis XIV

Please write four pages of pure visual analysis. This essay will be the product of your own looking and analysis, thus will require no research and no citation of sources. When writing please consider the following Medium; techniques, size. How do these affect the style? Scale of figures relative to the total object. Does this suggest something about the relative importance of figures? Treatment of the human body (or animal body; or drapery; etc.).

Naturalistic? Schematized or abstracted? Idealized? Note proportions. Is it a portrait? What is the attitude towards the person/animal? Composition. How is it organized? Is there a focal point? Is the composition unified? Fragmented? Does color affect the composition? Hierarchy? Symmetry? Many or few forms included? Geometrically ordered or free and seemingly accidental? Crowdedness or spaciousness? Variety or repetition? Does the composition help to direct viewers’ attention: in what way and how? Space. How is it handled—essentially two-dimensionally or three-dimensionally? Shallow or deep? Open or screened off?

What kind of perspective used? Atmospheric; one-point; worm’s eye, bird’s eye? Is space suggested by planes in depth or by recession? What is relation of “shape” of space to picture plane? How does the handling of space affect the relationship of the image to viewers? Brushstroke. Painterly or linear? Tight or free? Emphasis on the boundaries (edges) of objects? Or do they appear to merge with adjacent forms? Are lines used at all? What effect does this have on the image? Color. Bright or subdued? Many or few? Any one(s) dominant? Warm or cool? Recede or push forward? Complementary colors juxtaposed? To what effect? Light. Is there a consistent source? Inside or outside the picture? Strong or muted contrasts (“spot-lightlighting”)? Shadows used? What is the function of shadow (e.g., to clarify form or space, or to emphasize a mood)? Function. If you know the work’s function you can consider the relationship between its purpose and appearance. How have the style and subject of the image been shaped or influenced by its original function? Remember always that you must be able to justify your conclusions by observations that can be checked by others. Avoid “reading into the picture” qualities which really come from your own attitudes, convictions or sympathies. Distinguish between the given “data” and your own associations. Consider alternate choices that the artist might have made and how these might have affected the character of the work. 

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