Visual Analysis Skills

Compare and contrast the following monuments and objects. If it is a painting, or mosaic make sure to use your visual analysis skills.
What is a visual analysis?
It is a description of the “formal” aspects of an object of art. When looking at an object of art, consider the following:
• Material
• The function of the object or use
• Provenance (location it is from)
• The object’s date (if available)
• Size
• Colors
• Decorative motifs
• Calligraphy (style of the script)
• Details of the object: is it an architectural piece (floor mosaic, wooden beam, or a column, or maybe a form of soft architecture (tent, wall covering, tomb cover)? Does it depict geometric motifs or vegetal or floral or calligraphic motifs? If it is a calligraphic folio: Is it on parchment or paper? How many lines of text are on the folio? Is there vocalizations or diacritics?
• If it is a painting: observe if it is a realistic or naturalistic depiction of the subject? Is there linear perspective? Is it an accurate depiction of a space?
• Observe if there are figures: are they positioned in a frontal or profile view, If there is a ruler is he/she flanked by other people, and observe the clothes of the people/ robes Once, the objects have been described then create an analysis about them. Compare and contrast the two objects or monuments- each pair of objects follows a particular theme. What is the theme that links the objects or monuments in a particular pair? And how are they related? How are they not related and are different? These are a few questions you should consider when writing your paper. Writing the paper: Once you have chosen a pair of objects, and after you have taken the time to observe and write down all the formal aspects of an object, then put them into essay form. Compare and contrast the objects. Pretend your reader has never seen these two objects before, and you are writing this up for a magazine or a museum catalog. This is an analysis. Make sure your paper has an introduction, a middle, and conclusion. The paper should be 2-3 pages.
Art Dr. Yasmine Al Saleh, Spring 2021
Umayyad Religious Architecture- Cross cultural themes with Roman and Byzantine world With the foundation of Islam there are two important monuments from the Umayyad Dynasty Dome of the Rock and the Great Mosque of Damascus – make sure to discuss the patron of these monuments, the mosaics and the cross-cultural themes with the Byzantine Empire. Why is the Dome of the Rock important to Muslims? And what about the Great Mosque of Damascus is important? Please make sure to note what that space was before it was converted to a mosque?
• world/posts/dome-of-the-rock
• Video: (Virtual Tour- take the tour of Dome of the Rock)
• world/posts/damascus
• (Great Mosque of Damascus – Jami’ al-Umawi al-Kabir )
Umayyad Palace Architecture- Cross-cultural themes with pre-Islamic Greco-Roman and Sassanian world. Examine the two palaces and compare and contrast how pre-Islamic empires influenced their architecture. Remember to define a fresco. Qusayr Amra, al-Walid I, (712-715 CE)
• world/posts/qusayr-amra
• Qusayr Amra is a world heritage site: Qasr Al-Hayr West is dated to Rajab 109 AH/November 727 CE
• Floor fresco Qasr Al-Hayr West Gaea and Marine Centaurs
• Floor painting at Qasr Al-Hayr West;ISL;sy;Mus01;2;en
• Sassanian plate: Dr. Yasmine Al Saleh, Spring 2021
Religious architecture of the Abbasids- with the Abbasid a new style of a mosque and religious architecture was developed. Compare and contrast the two mosques- define the two minarets and their size? The minaret of Samarra is clearly a model of a pre-Islamic Mesopotamia; and then the minaret of Ibn Tulun in Cairo is a referencing Samarra.
Great Mosque of Samarra
New type of congregational mosque built by al-Mutawakkil (r.847-61 CE)
Largest mosque known in the Islamic lands – what does this say about the Abbasids?
• Samarra (OxfordArtOnline)
• al-Mustasim (son of Harun al-Rashid)
• Samarra stucco style: Ibn Tulun Mosque (265 AH/879 CE)
Inspired by Samarra
• Ibn Tulun mosque
• Ahmed ibn Tulun
• Fustat
Cross cultural objects- Christian communities and their influence. In these two objects it is clear that the Christian communities are influenced by an Islamic style, two different objects, but there is the theme of cross-cultural influence. Please describe each object and then compare and contrast how they represent both the Islamic and Christian communities.
Coptic lustre bowl
• Lustre:
• Bowl (
• Bowl with Coptic priest (
Coronation robe of Roger II- made in Palermo 1133-4 CE For more information on Visual Analysis Skills see this:

Visual Analysis Skills

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