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100+ Trending Art History Thesis Topics[2024]

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The greatest piece of art, ‘The Last Supper’, might have mesmerised you in so many aspects. But now is the time to look at it more critically. Have you ever wondered what would be Leonardo’s intention in painting ‘The Last Supper’?

The time has come to dig deeper since you can explore them by working on art history thesis topics. In fact, that’s the purpose of this blog.

Scroll down to get extensive art history thesis ideas, art history thesis structure and much more.

How To Define Art History?

If you observe closely, almost every aspect of human existence is covered by art history, which is the study of art from around the world and from ancient to the present. This is because it considers art as a means of understanding the world and the society in which they were produced rather than merely as things.

Now if you go by the definition, art history is the study of works of art as they were viewed during their respective historical periods. Painting, sculpture, and architecture are examples of visual arts whose significance was examined by art historians at the time of creation.

So, when you write an art history thesis, your purpose would be to establish the authorial origins of artworks or learn who created a certain work of art, when, where, and why as are presentation of an art history thesis.

The Outcome of Working on Art History

Learning about cultures

Visual art tells tales from the past and provides an account of historical occurrences. By studying art history, you may look back and see how various cultures have changed over time. It also helps you understand why you hold the ideals that you do.

Develop critical thinking skills

It’s not necessary to memorise dates, names of artists, art movements, etc., to study art history. Instead, it motivates you to analyse sculptures, paintings, and other art forms.

Moreover, you can create logical and persuasive arguments to back up your analysis, which forces you to use critical thinking.

What To Include In A Thesis on An Art History Topic?

Your success in art history depends just as much on how you grow as a writer and creative thinker as on how you define the analytical parameters of a research endeavour.

When you have an art history thesis topic to write about, it should have the basic factors – enlightening and persuading the reader, which is important for academic papers.

Apart from that, you must also include the following items as a part of your art history thesis format –

  • Introduce readers to writers, artists, or works.
  • Persuade readers that they have not studied or examined an author, artist, or work carefully enough and, as a result, have undervalued it.
  • Establish a connection between many previously unrelated or undetected efforts.
  • Analyse the work to improve understanding among the public.
  • Illustrate a creative invention process.
  • Distinguish the connections between art and life, science, business, morality, religion, etc.

Art History Writing – An Easy Guide

Whenever you search for what is an art history thesis, you will get several examples, and each of them will have one thing in common – details of the piece of the art subject. That’s where everything becomes different from any other thesis help or academic paper.

To guide you on that, below is the ideal structure you can follow to write a Fine Arts history thesis topic –

Thesis Introduction

Every art history thesis statement must contain a thorough visual examination of at least one piece of art.

Hence, depending on the assignment, this analysis might serve as the foundation for an assignment or be used as evidence to contextualize an argument in a paper.

Ideally, you must start with a visual observation that results in forming an interpretive thesis or argument to help students learn how to write an art history paper. Visual observations are used in writing to point out the claim about the work of art being analyzed.

Close Visual Analysis

The most often written papers in an introductory art history course are close visual analysis works. You must examine and evaluate a piece of art in its totality. The discussion and analysis should offer a concise interpretation of the object. Your claim for this essay should be supported by a thorough description and analysis of the visual evidence that supported it.

Analyze the Thesis Statement

As you examine the artwork, you might wonder how to write an art history thesis based on the component of the sculpture. What connections exist between the elements? What result does their combination have?

To finish your analysis, follow your professor’s criteria: analysis in the context of the forms, space, composition, line, color, light, texture, physical features, etc.

Thesis Body

Create a compelling interpretive thesis on what, in your opinion, is the image’s overall impact or significance, and support it with specific, direct references to the artistic creation.

Describe the image in detail using the criteria you used for the analysis.

Describe how the components interact to produce the overall impact. Instead of simply listing the components, explain how they contribute to or support your analysis.

When necessary for a task, contextualise the image within a historical and cultural context.

Keep in mind that formal analysis shouldn’t rely solely on secondary sources. You won’t need secondary sources for your analysis because the aim is to determine what in the image sparked your analysis. Make sure to demonstrate how each element supports your claim.

Just the components required to explain and support your analysis should be included. You don’t have to describe everything you saw because too much detail could obscure your main point.

Art History Subject Guide on Finding A Topic

Choosing the best topic for your art history thesis might make you ambitious. You would surely want to make a paper on one of history’s most challenging artworks to make your paper unique.

Unfortunately, that’s not the ideal way to pick an interesting art history thesis topic.

Hence, to give you a thorough guide on choosing the apt topic, below are the steps you mustn’t skip!

Selecting the Topic

Always pick a subject that interests you. This will help you connect easily to the topic and shorten your basic research.

Avoid picking broad topics (such as 16th-century art) or specific ones (such as 1945 post-World War II). The atrocities depicted in art after World War II would be a more appropriate topic.

Review the instructions for your task, and then choose a topic according to them. (Also, if you are having problems, consult your professor.)

Narrow down the concept

When writing a thesis for a research paper, you may initially believe you won’t have enough material to write about. However, you will almost always discover that you must narrow your topic.

Let’s take the example of wanting to write about French art. Although it is a very popular subject, you must narrow it down to a particular era, movement, or artist.

Create research questions from your ideas

After reading some background material, start putting the nouns and concepts together to construct a question.

Let’s imagine you want to write about French painting and the French Revolution, and the political upheavals that occurred at the time are what interest you in French art.

Since the French Revolution played a significant role in French history, find out how Revolutionary War paintings depict the political unrest of the time.

Citation Rules for Topics on Art History Thesis

The important part of theart history thesis formatis what citation style you are applying.

So, whatever topic you choose, you must consider the below guidelines –

  • Style guidelines can change since art history is occasionally interdisciplinary. However, the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS or Turabian) and the Modern Language Association (MLA) are the standards for art historical writing.
  • Depending on the conventions used in the sub-discipline, author-date citations might be included in the text as parentheses, footnotes, or endnotes.
  • Notes, pictures, and bibliographies are not included in the page requirements for papers. In that sequence, the bibliography, endnotes, and pictures are placed on separate pages at the end of the book.
  • Keep visuals out of your text. Instead, give the illustration numbers and place references to them in parenthesis after the phrases or clauses in which they appear, such as (Figure 1).

Here is a precise illustration of citing in the Chicago Manual of Style in Topic of Art History Thesis –

Rules for Footnotes

Example of citing a book-

Format – [Firstname, Lastname, Book Title (Publisher Location: Publisher Name, Publication Date), page number.]

Simon Littman, Maps and Monsters in the Medieval State of England (New York: Rutledge, 2005), 130.

Example of citing an Article –

Format – [Firstname, Lastname, “Article Title,” Journal Title Volume Number: Issue Number (Publication Date): Page-Range, page number.]

Dan Clark, “Hugh of St. Peter (1094-1150) and Anglo-French Cartography,” Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography 65:2 (2013): 161-179, 169.

Rules for Bibliography/Works Cited Entries


Littman, Asa Simon. Maps and Monsters in the Medieval State of England. New York: Rutledge, 2005.

[Last Name, First Name, Middle Name. Book Title. Publisher Location: Publisher Name, Publication Date.]


Terkla, Dan. “Hugh of St. Peter (1094-1150) and Anglo-French Cartography.” Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography 65:1 (2013): 161-179.

[Last Name, First Name, Middle Name. “Article Title.” Journal Title Volume Number: Issue Number (Publication Date): Page-Range.]

What Are The Key Elements To Remember?

Before you begin writing, know that certain elements stand as the significance of art history thesis topics. So, when you choose one, ensure you put the below elements for writing any art history topic –

Logical & Formal Analysis

The term “formal” in art refers to the topic’s visual components or, more specifically, its form. So while conducting formal analysis, “write what you see” by describing the object, the medium and methods the artist used to produce it, the palette, the lighting, the composition and its components, and more.

You might also ponder the significance of the components and the feelings they arouse in the observer, both individually and collectively. You may, for instance, describe how the colours express movement in ‘Starry Night.’

Historical Study

You should perform research that will enable you to contextualise the art object under examination and examine all of its overt and covert historical allusions.

For instance, you may mention the Arts and Crafts movement and the Art Nouveau style in your analysis of Gustav Klimt’s painting ‘The Kiss’.

Criticism and Theory

You can use the framework of a specific theory to analyse the work of art in your thesis paper. You can pick the school of thought that most appeals to you, whether it be postmodernism, psychoanalysis, or social constructionism.

Although employing psychoanalysis when analysing Salvador Dali’s works is often advantageous, one should avoid such clichés.

Contrast and Comparison

Here, you can compare two or more pieces of art created by the same artist, by separate artists who used a similar style, or that deal with the same subject but were produced at different times.

For instance, you may contrast Jean-François Millet’s original oil painting, The Angelus (L’Angelus), with Salvador Dali’s The Architectural Angelus of Millet.

Explain how the two paintings represent different symbolic meanings and arouse different feelings in the observer while having the same subject matter.

Here, you may also discuss Dali’s interpretation of the original artwork and how that inspired him to come up with a completely different interpretation.

Expressive Introduction

Develop your thesis statement before taking notes on the chosen piece of art. The crucial element of your thesis, upon which your paper will be based, is the latter. Your thesis statement may address your research question’s resolution or main contention.

In the case of Klimt, early forms of art influence his work in the same way as it reflects modern tendencies and fits within the parameters of contemporary aesthetic movements.

Don’t forget to properly cite the work of art in your introduction by providing its title, creator, and publication year.

Although individuals might believe that writing an art history thesis is just a matter of “feeling it out and then expressing it,” there are the above elements you must consider when writing further.

Topic Ideas For Art History Thesis

Here comes the moment where you will find good art history topics to write about. Hence, check below and choose your favourite one –

Popular Informative Speech Topics about Art

  • The Characteristics of Chinese Art in the Feudal Period
  • European Modern Art: Directions and Key Characteristics
  • The Role of Costumes in the Italian Early Renaissance, 1420–1490: The Impact of Art on Postcard Design Around the World
  • Gala’s Place in Dali’s Life and Art
  • The Stylistic and Artistic Features of English Portrait of 18th Century Art Nouveau vs. Art Deco Textile: Comparative Analysis
  • Printmaking Through the Decades: History and Techniques The Features and Importance of Raphael’s Work The Development of Venetian Carnival Masks

Ancient Civilisation Art Topics

  • Ancient Art’s Representations of Women
  • The Function of Art in Ancient Architecture
  • The Representation of Beauty in Early Art
  • Greek Art’s Influence on the Trojan War
  • Materials and Methods Used in Aztec Mosaics as Christian Roman Art and Celtic Roman Art Differ from Each Other
  • Ancient Greek Sculptures and Science: A Correlation
  • The Mysteries of the Art and Architecture of Ancient Rome
  • Finding Elements of Ancient Chinese Culture Through Artefact Study: The Design and Function of Cartouche in Ancient Egyptian Art

Topics on Art Therapy

  • The Relationship Between Art Therapy and Mental Health
  • The main tenet of art therapy is the creative process.
  • Exploring the Benefits of Art Therapy, Can Art Therapy Treat Abused Children Group
  • Art Therapy: Basic Principles and Use Cases What Is Art Therapy and How Is It Used to Help People
  • The Use of Art Meta-Study Evaluation
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of art therapy
  • Principal Methods in Art Therapy
  • The Most Effective Art Therapy Techniques

Topics on 18th-Century Artists

  • The Master Painter of the renowned Black Paintings – Francisco Goya.
  • Contributions of Mikhail Lomonosov to Literature, Education, and Science
  • The Wax Museum’s founder, Marie Tussaud
  • A key figure of the Romantic Era, William Blake
  • The Artist of the Century’s Pre-eminence was Jacques-Louis David
  • The renowned series of woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai

Research Paper Topics for Modern Art

  • A Modern Art Form: Street Art
  • Examining Modern Art’s Variety of Forms
  • The British Pop Art’s artistic movements
  • How Contemporary Art Movements Are Affected by Globalisation
  • Murals’ Function in New Age Political Demonstrations
  • The Most Interesting Architectural Landmarks in Dubai
  • The Function of Aesthetics in the Design of Contemporary Functional Structures
  • Trends in Contemporary Sculpture
  • Austrian modern sculpture techniques
  • Caricatures’ depictions of modern society
  • The tastelessness, taboo, or established mainstream of nudity in modern art?

Suggestions To Enhance Your Art History Thesis Topic

If it’s your first attempt at writing an art history thesis topic, you must go beyond the usual method. And for that, you need some extra tips. So, without further delay, read below –

Prefer the topic of your niche

Pick a topic based on visual appeal and compelling personal interest. You can also look around and do some studies on your local art history. This will expand your brain and help you choose your niche.

Feed Your Brain with Information

Note that for any art history thesis topic, you must be vast in the past, present and predictable future context. And this is possible when you read daily. You can go to websites, books, articles etc., to read on recent findings. Reading the footnotes in books and articles might also inspire the original thought.

Be a Thoughtful Reader

While reading, ask yourself questions and check up on anything you don’t understand or can’t find on the page. Use the words, names, and titles you learn to do an internet search. You can make a case history out of it, which also helps you narrow your points.

Introduction is the Game Changer

Write a thesis statement to express what you have learned about the artwork, structure, artist, architect, critic, patron, or whatever the subject of your paper is. Tell your reader about acquiring knowledge that can assist in understanding the work of art/building better.

Remember to include the name(s) of the artist(s), the title(s) of the work(s), and the date(s) in the first paragraph if you are focused on the artwork. After that, you can only refer to the title(s).

Highlight to Draw Attention

Start with a summary if you include the artist’s or architect’s biography. Most of your paper should be about art, not life unless it is a biography of the subject. Verify the parallel construction of your arguments: Establish an informational flow.

Take the paragraph as a single informational unit. Each paragraph should focus on a single subject within the scope of the material you intend to convey. Discuss the links between what you stated in the thesis statement and what you discussed in these analyses. For the second piece of art, structure, architect, critic, patron, etc., use the same order of concepts.

Avoid a Cordial Tone

Avoid saying that you’ve learnt a lot and that art history is great. You are writing the paper under the supervision of your professor; hence, they know how you feel. Instead, keep it more logical and based on what you’re-discovered through the art. This way, you can make a good impression and abstain from clichés.

Be mindful of how you construct your sentences

You must be clear, make compelling claims, and support your arguments with examples. As a result, terms or phrases like “seems to be” or “almost” frequently cast doubt on your claims and erode your reader’s faith in your scholarly work.  

Choose terms that will make a compelling statement instead. Selecting evaluative words and phrases like “very,” “extremely,” and “so” rarely strengthens a case.

Most Important Frequently Asked Questions Searched By Students

What is an art history thesis?

Answer: An art history thesis is an extensive piece of critical writing that builds a distinctive argument regarding a significant topic in art and art history.

How do I choose a topic for my art history thesis?

Answer: If you are asked to choose a topic for your art history thesis, choose one that captures your attention and has a strong personal interest.

How long should my art history thesis be?

Answer: The length of the art history thesis will typically be approximately 30,000 words and will not exceed 40,000 words.

What should be included in my art history thesis?

Answer: Create a compelling interpretive thesis on what you believe is the image’s overall impact or significance. Direct and precise allusions to the original piece of art should support your thesis. Describe the image in detail using the criteria you used for the analysis.

What sources should I use for my art history thesis?

Answer: You can use the following list of sources for your art history thesis –

  • Artwork (painting, sculpture, print, performance piece, etc.)
  • Journals or Autobiographies.
  • Correspondence or Letters.
  • Interviews
  • Recordings (audio or visual) etc.

How do I structure my art history thesis?

Answer: To structure your art history thesis, ensure to follow the basic steps below –

  • Introduction with stating the thesis,
  • Scope of the problem
  • Body or argument, and
  • Conclusion

What is the timeline for completing an art history thesis?

Answer: Since you will be writing a thesis paper of not more than 40 to 60 pages, a week should be enough to complete your writing.

How should I format my art history thesis?

Answer: To format your art history thesis paper, apply the Chicago Manual of Style and the MLA Handbook method.

What is the purpose of an art history thesis?

Answer: The purpose of an art history thesis is to examine works of art as tools for understanding the world and the society in which they were produced rather than simply as things.

What are some tips for writing a strong art history thesis?

Answer: Here are some tips essential for writing a strong art history thesis –

  • Pick an interest-driven topic.
  • Be a Thoughtful Reader
  • Note any relevant information and ideas that occur to you.
  • Create a pattern for writing the informational
  • Discuss the links between what you stated in the thesis statement and what you discussed in these analyses.

Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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