How Different Ways Of Analyzing Art Can Change One’s View Of Art

Dutch art in the early modern Netherlands is an interesting topic that comes from the culture and the history of the Netherlands. Dutch art is similar to other art styles of the time period such as Military paintings or a painting of people; Dutch art differs in the perspective of the paintings and situation of the Netherlands during that time period. The 1600s were known as the Dutch Golden Age. It was a period of prosperity for the Netherlands where Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. This lead to many Dutch works of art that is unique. Dutch art is interesting because it can be viewed in many different perspectives. Dutch artists at the time wanted to create paintings that elicited curious viewing and visual attention. Because of this, Dutch artists incorporated many different features to their art that is meant to catch one’s attention and keep it there. This allows one to view Dutch art in many different perspectives. These different perspectives allow many different ways to analyze a painting.

While art can be interpreted in endless different ways; one such way to analyze a painting is using Celeste Brusati’s method of analyzing Dutch paintings. In Brusati’s article Perspectives in Flux: Viewing Dutch Pictures in Real-Time Brusati starts by going over how we view art in a modern world. She states that nowadays we don’t actually spend the time to examine a painting and just glance over the painting for a short amount of time and move on to a different painting. As ashamed as I am to admit it, but I am guilty of doing this multiple times. In the modern era, people’s attention spans have reduced considerably compared to what it was like back then. Therefore it is harder for a painting to capture a person’s attention long enough for the painter’s idea for the painting to be conveyed. Brusati’s way to analyze a Dutch painting has to do with the fact that Dutch artist’s tried to capture their viewer’s attention by creating different perspectives and adding details that wouldn’t be seen in other works of the time period. By using a view, Brusati is able to analyze Dutch painting in different ways. Dutch painters during this period added very intricate details, dramatic foreshortening, optical ambiguity, and anamorphic elements that made the paintings very unique and different everytime you see it.


For example, the painting above Perspective Box with Views of the Interior of a House created by Samuel van Hoogstraten shows this perfectly. While the paintings itself is small and created in a box, a use of optical illusions and minute details makes it seem as though the painting is life-sized. In this painting, Samuel van Hoogstraten uses different perspectives to show the standard of living in the Netherlands at the time. He used optical illusions and other techniques to create a very unique painting that captures our attention and keeps it there. This painting is the perfect example of how Dutch artists in the 1600s used perspective to create unique paintings that allow us to analyze it in numerous different ways.

Another method that can be used to analyze a Dutch painting is using historical context to examine the art. Harry Berger, Jr. uses this method to analyze the Dutch painting The Night Watch in his article Supposing Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.


As seen in the painting above, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is a painting about a group of military men. In his article, Berger uses historical contexts to analyze the painting. First, he describes the military and political power of the Netherlands at the time that painting was created. Then he goes into the history of military paintings and discusses them. And finally, he analyzes Rembrandt’s intent when he created the painting and how viewers might depict it. Using this method of analysis allows viewers to get the historical context of the painting and see things in a different way than with Brusati’s method of analysis.

In my opinion, both methods are lacking in some parts when it comes to analysis a painting. Brusati uses perspectives as a way to analyze art. What I believe is missing is questioning what the theme of the painting or the message that the painter is trying to convey to his/her audience. I also believe it is missing some of the historical contexts that Berger’s method of analysis. Likewise, with Berger’s method, it is missing some things as well, such as in-depth analysis of the detail in the painting and more of an analysis of what the poem actually means. While both methods of examination are lacking, each method has its strong points and would work better for a specific painting. For example, a historical or a biblical painting would work really well with Berger’s analysis as it examines the historical context of the painting and the authors reasoning for creating the painting. In the case of Brusati’s method of analysis, examining paintings that show people or the lifestyle during that time would work better because of the different perspectives Dutch painters created in their art.

Although both methods have their flaws in examining paintings, I believe that combining both of the methods is the best way to analyze a Dutch painting. Using Brusati’s method of looking at different perspectives and combining it with Berger’s method of looking at the historical context and trying to understand what the artist’s purpose for creating the painting would create a more complete analysis of the painting.


For example, in the painting above, The Battle of Waterloo produced by Jan Willem Pieneman, 1824 is perfect for combining both Brusati’s and Berger’s methods of analysis into one. Using Berger’s method of using historical context and from the name of the painting, we can tell that the painting is about the famous battle of Waterloo, which ended Napoleon’s reign. Using Brusati’s method we can look at different perspectives to analyze the painting in a different way then Berger’s methods. At first glance, the painting just looks like a normal battle scene, but in the corners of the painting are very distinct scenes of injured soldiers or the rest of the armies that represent the horrifying and bloody parts of the battle that were not shown. Using both Brusati’s method and Berger’s method together gives a better insight about the painting and allows us to delve deeper into its meaning.

In conclusion, Dutch paintings are a fascinating form of art that needs more than just a simple glance to fully understand the painting. Dutch art is unique in the fact that Dutch painter’s goals were to capture their viewer’s full attention and try to convey a message in their paintings. Using methods of analysis such as Brusati’s method of looking at different perspectives to examine a painting or using Berger’s method of examining a painting through historical contexts, we can get a better understanding of Dutch paintings and their meaning. After reading both Brusati and Berger’s articles on two different ways to analyze art, I can now say with confidence that I will never look at art the same way and try to find different ways to examine paintings to get a deeper understanding of them.



Berger Jr, Harry. ‘Supposing Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.” The Virginia Quarterly Review. Winter 2007. Vol. 83. No. 1. ProQuest. Web.

Brusati, Celeste. “Perspective in Flux: Viewing Dutch Pictures in Real-Time.” Association of Art Historians. 2012. Web.

A Peepshow with Views of the Interior of a Dutch House,” Samuel van Hoogstraten, The National Gallery. Web. 27 May 2017.

The Night Watch,” Rembrandt Harmensz.Van Rijn, 1642 Rijksmuseum. Web. 27 May 2017

The Battle of Waterloo,” Jan Willem Pieneman, 1824, Rijksmuseum. Web. 27 May 2017




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