16th century Italian art: Portaiture

Module 6: Paper Assignment


For your module 6 paper assignment, I’d like to stay with the theme of portraiture of leaders in 16th century Italy in relation to the present presidential election when we are at present thinking deeply about leadership. Here is what I would like you to explore and write about in a two-page essay. Select a portrait of a leader from 16th century Italian art and place that portrait in visual and intellectual comparison with any portrait of your pleasing of a leader from another time and tradition (this can be a portrait of an American president, but I’d also like to open that up and invite you, if you like, to select any non-Renaissance portrait of any leader of any country or group. So yes, you can choose a portrait of an American president, but you can also choose another type of leader. It just needs to be a leader from a time or tradition other than the Italian Renaissance.)

Have fun with this. Really place these works in “dialogue” with one another; it can even be a literal “dialogue” when the two “subjects” talking to one another about how they have been portrayed. Just make sure that your reader has a good sense of what your two portraits look like and represent. Imagine that you are introducing your reader to these two images, and you are leading your reader down an interesting path of discovery of just why you chose to write about these two portraits together.

A recommendation: I strongly suggest that you not start your essay with anything like “When I got this assignment, I didn’t know what to do, then I decided . . . . .” That kind of on-the-page rumination about the history of your thought process, while important and interesting to you, takes up valuable space in your essay and doesn’t get you right down to opening up your essay in an interesting, original, and informative way. Also, remember to have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion to your essay. Finally, think deeply about what is your point and make sure that your essay really builds toward making that point. In other words, beyond the fact that you have this assignment, think in terms of “why I am writing this essay” and “what am I really saying here to the reader?”

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