AP Art History : Analyzing nineteenth-century 2D art

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Art History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

751px-vangogh-starry_night                     File:Van Gogh - Portrait of Pere Tanguy 1887-8.JPG

                                                        Figure 1                                                                                                                            Figure 2 

The painting shown in Figure 1 is a __________.

Possible Answers:

landscape

still life

portrait

history painting

Correct answer:

landscape

Explanation:

The painting shown in Figure 1, Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, is a landscape, if a peculiar one. The scene is reputed to be the one Van Gogh saw from a sanitarium in Southern France, but the nighttime scene was painted during the day from memory. The painting has odd flourishes in its use of paint, swirling stars, and striking use of color, which are all hallmarks of Van Gogh's style.

Figure 1: The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (1889)

Figure 2: Portrait of Père Tanguy by Vincent van Gogh (1887-8)

Example Question #2 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

Jacques-louis-david-napoleon-crossing-the-alps4          Sir_arthur_wellesley__1st_duke_of_wellington

                              Figure 3                                                                       Figure 4

The painting in Figure 3 is an __________.

Possible Answers:

costumed portrait

enthroned portrait

equestrian portrait

history portrait

Correct answer:

equestrian portrait

Explanation:

Jacques-Louis David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1801) shows the newly minted Emperor of France crossing into Austria to give battle to his enemies. While using classical motifs, the equestrian portrait shows, in the Emperor's uniform, positioning, and look, a Revolutionary man standing in the place of great generals of the past. David, a noted artist of history paintings, grants Napoleon a historical position from the outset of his campaigns.

Figure 3: Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jaques-Louis David (1801)

Figure 4: Portrait of Sir Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1814)

Example Question #3 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

Jacques-louis-david-napoleon-crossing-the-alps4          Sir_arthur_wellesley__1st_duke_of_wellington

                              Figure 3                                                                       Figure 4

The painting in Figure 4 portrays its subject as __________.

Possible Answers:

indifferent

uncompromising

nervous

relaxed

Correct answer:

uncompromising

Explanation:

Fitting for an official portrait of the country's greatest military hero, Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait of General Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, portrays him in a serious, uncompromising position. His serious demeanor is paired with his stiff pose, showing his arms crossed in front of him. In this portrait, Wellington is presented simply in front of a plain background, with little but his uniform to accent his own image and pose.

Figure 3: Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jaques-Louis David (1801)

Figure 4: Portrait of Sir Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1814)

Example Question #4 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

Jacques-louis-david-napoleon-crossing-the-alps4          Sir_arthur_wellesley__1st_duke_of_wellington

                              Figure 3                                                                       Figure 4

Compared to the figure portrayed in the painting in Figure 4, the figure portrayed in the painting in Figure 3 is __________.

Possible Answers:

underwhelming

calmer

more energetic

more confused

Correct answer:

more energetic

Explanation:

Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Napoleon Crossing the Alps makes the Frenchman an energetic figure, in motion and ready to lead his troops into battle. David is able to portray the French emperor as the trans-historical and trans-national warrior. By contrast, Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait of the Duke of Wellington presents a serene figure, but no less serious in his purpose as a general.

Figure 3: Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jaques-Louis David (1801)

Figure 4: Portrait of Sir Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1814)

Example Question #5 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

Jacques-louis-david-napoleon-crossing-the-alps4          Sir_arthur_wellesley__1st_duke_of_wellington

                              Figure 3                                                                       Figure 4

Both of the above images are notable for using __________.

Possible Answers:

impasto

contrasting colors

deep perspective

allegory

Correct answer:

contrasting colors

Explanation:

Each of these paintings are portraits of singular individuals, with little focus on other aspects, and use a heightened contrast of color to highlight the figures that are the main subjects of each painting. Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Napoleon has him in bold colors on a white horse, set against blue-gray backgrounds of storm clouds and mountains. Sir Thomas Lawrence's painting of Wellington places the Duke and his bright red uniform against a dark background, placing all focus on the Duke himself.

Figure 3: Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jaques-Louis David (1801)

Figure 4: Portrait of Sir Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1814)

Example Question #6 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

732px-gustave_courbet_-_le_d_sesp_r___1843_

Figure 1

 

 688px-gustave_courbet_010

Figure 2

The farthest left figure in the image on the right is probably __________

Possible Answers:

an art dealer.

a banker.

an artist.

a servant.

Correct answer:

a servant.

Explanation:

It is widely known that in The Meeting, Gustave Courbet painted himself, his art dealer Alfred Buyas, and Buyas' servant Calas, largely because of how accurate Courbet's depictions were. Even without the background knowledge, many things indicate the status of Calas. His clothes are shabbier than his companion's, and he defers to the figure in the middle with his head bowed.

Example Question #7 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

732px-gustave_courbet_-_le_d_sesp_r___1843_

Figure 1

 

 688px-gustave_courbet_010

Figure 2

The figure in the image on the left conveys __________

Possible Answers:

serenity.

madness.

celebration.

certainty.

Correct answer:

madness.

Explanation:

The figure in The Desperate Man, a self portrait by Gustave Courbet, looks like he is about to leap out of the painting. His eyes are bulging, and he appears to pulling out his hair, all while wearing an ill-fitting shirt. All of this conveys an element of madness in the figure.

Example Question #8 : Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

385px-claude_monet_-_rouen_cathedral_-_the_portal__sunlight_

Figure 3

 

800px-paul_c_zanne_199

Figure 4

The shape of the towel in Figure 4 indicates __________

Possible Answers:

orderliness.

a sense of movement.

the rotting of fruit.

perfect stillness.

Correct answer:

a sense of movement.

Explanation:

While this painting is a still life, portraying a bowl of fruit, Paul Cezanne overturns the notion of what a still life is by displaying an element of movement. The messy fold in the towel on the table and the spilled fruit indicate something has upset the bowl. Cezanne would later take other approaches to redefining still life painting by incorporating objects such as skulls.

Example Question #8 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

308px-madame_x__madame_pierre_gautreau___john_singer_sargent__1884__unfree_frame_crop_

The image above by John Singer Sargent was painted for the exhibition known as __________.

Possible Answers:

the Salon de Paris

the Académie des Beaux-Arts

the Salon des Refusés

the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Correct answer:

the Salon de Paris

Explanation:

John Singer Sargent was an American-born painter who sought artistic success in late-nineteenth-century Paris. This painting, Portrait of Madame X, was presented at the 1884 Salon de Paris, the French art world's most important exhibition for new art to be judged. There, it caused a scandal thanks to the way it portrayed its subject and the fact that Sargent's attempt to keep the subject anonymous failed.

Image: Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent (1883-4)

Example Question #9 : Analyzing Nineteenth Century 2 D Art

308px-madame_x__madame_pierre_gautreau___john_singer_sargent__1884__unfree_frame_crop_

The image presented above was controversial in its initial showing for all of the following reasons EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

the scandalous nature of the portrait's subject's life

the departure in style from the artist's previous work

the easy identification of the portrait's "anonymous" subject

the amount of skin being shown by the portrait's subject

Correct answer:

the departure in style from the artist's previous work

Explanation:

In its first showing at the Paris Salon of 1884, John Singer Sargent called this painting Portrait de Mme *** to keep its subject anonymous, but she was easily recognizable as a Paris socialite with a scandalous life. Responding to certain criticisms, Sargent would later raise the shoulder strap on his subject's dress and call it Portrait of Madame X. The scandalous nature of the work, and Sargent seeing it as representative of his style, caused him to never work seriously as a painter in France again.

Image: Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent (1883-4)

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