Historiography in Art History

Historiography and Methodology in Art History:

Art History is a specialized branch of historical inquiry which concerns itself along with the study of material culture, particularly  architecture, sculpture, painting ,urbanism, and the decorative  and graphic arts. Art Historians consider two key lines of historical inquiry: first one is, they employ material culture to reconstruct past cultures; and second one is, they learn out objects of art in their historical development frequently targeting on artists & their cultural & social contributions. Art Historians appraise and define the product of artists as expressions of, political, philosophical & religious concerns of the larger cultures that generated them.

Define Historiography:

Historiography, the writing history, especially ,history  which depend on the critical examination of sources, the selection of definite details from the authentic materials in those sources, & the synthesis of those details to a narrative that stands the test of critical assessment. The term historiography also means to history &theory of historical writing.

History of historiography:

All of the human cultures tell stories regarding the past. Activities of gods, ancestors heroes or animals sacred to specific peoples were memorized and chanted long before there was any writing along with which to record them. Their truth was authenticated by the fact of their continued repetition. History, which can be explained as an account that purports to be true of events and manner of thinking and feeling in some part of the human past, stems from this archetypal human narrative activity.

Whereas sharing a common ancestry along with epic poetry, legend, myth & the novel; of course history has diverged from these forms. Its claim to truth is depend in part on the fact that all of the persons or events it defined really existed or occurred at some of the time in the past. Historians can say nothing regarding these persons or events that can’t be supported, or at least suggested, by some type of documentary evidence. Customarily such evidence takes the form of something written, like a law, a letter, an administrative record, or the account of some previous historian. Additionally, historians sometimes generate their own evidence by interviewing people. In the 20th century the scope of historical evidence was seriously expanded to include, among several other things, the rings of trees, aerial photographs, old coins, clothes, motion pictures, and houses. Modern historians have find out the age of the Shroud of Turin, that supposedly bears the image of Jesus, through carbon-14 dating & contain discredited the claim of Anna Anderson to be the grand duchess Anastasia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, through DNA testing.

Art methodology refers to a studied and regularly reassessed, questioned method in the arts, as opposed to a method just applied (without thought). This procedure of studying the method and reassessing its effectiveness permit art to move on and modify. It is not the thing itself however it is necessary part of the process.

An artist drawing, for example, may select to draw from what he or she observes in front of them, or from what they imagine or from what they already know regarding the subject. These three methods will, very possibly, produce three very different pictures. A careful methodology would comprise examination of the materials and tools employed and how a distinct type of brush/ pencil/rag/camera/chisel/ canvas/ paper etc. would generate a different effect. The artist may also look at several effects attained by starting in one part of a canvas first, or by working over the total surface equally. An author may experiment along with stream of consciousness writing, as opposed to naturalistic narrative, or a combination of styles.

Some of the major methodologies are:


It describes how to write a visual description & stylistic analysis of an artwork. Then It analyze the methodology of Formalism by first focusing on Heinrich Wolfflin’s (1864-1945) work and then on later mid-twentieth century Formalists. Although Wolfflin was interested in the cultural context in which stylistic modification occurred, later on twentieth-century Formalist art critics and historians combined his approach along with certain elements of connoisseurship to build a methodology that solely focused on the artworks’ formal properties. The outcome was examine containing highly nuanced formal descriptions of art & artistic movements detached from larger claims regarding the culture in which they were created.  The unit concludes by looking at Giorgio Vasari’s (1511-1574) “Lives of Artists” and biographical analysis.


It focuses on establishing the authenticity and authorship of a work of art depend on its size, medium, condition and technique whereas also assuming fashion ,contemporary customs  & literature. Traditionally specking, this kind of judgment was largely depends on the connoisseur’s personal intuition. Technical analysis developed traditional connoisseurship, and it is an interdisciplinary field by using modern scientific analysis to preserve, study and conserve artworks.


It focuses on the themes & ideas found in artworks to interpret them as symbolic expressions of the culture that built them.


It evaluates the use of psychoanalytic concepts in art historical scholarship. It starts through analyzing Freud and how some of his concepts comprising his ideas of consciousness, the unconsciousness, and Object Relations Theory be utilized to analyze artworks.  Then It turns to the Lacanian concepts of and “object petit a,” and “the gaze” which art historians have utilized in their analyses.

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