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3 Tutorials that teach Subject Matter!
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Subject Matter!

Subject Matter!

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will define the term subject matter and will present an overview of different types of subject matter.

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Tutorial

Exploring different types of subject matter.

Citations:
Image of Edward VII Public Domain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:Edward_VII_in_coronation_robes.jpg; Image of Mary Beale Creative Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_beale_self_portrait.JPG; Image of Above Eternal Peace Public Domain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:Levitan_nad_vech_pok28.jpg; Image of Dishes and Fruit Public Domain http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Matisse_-_Dishes_and_Fruit_(1901).jpg; Image of Fall of the Rebel Angels Public Domain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Fall_of_the_Rebel_Angels_- _Google_Art_Project.jpg

Video Transcription

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Hello, I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell and today's lesson is about subject matter. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as many times as you feel is necessary. As soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives, or the things you're going to learn today are listed below. By the end of lesson today, you will be able to identify and define today's key terms, and identify examples of today's key terms. The big idea for today is that the Subject Matter of a work of art is the content the artist is choosing to depict.

Key terms for today, as always, are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is portrait as an image of an individual person. Self portrait is an artist's portrait of herself. Landscape is a work of art that takes the countryside as subject matter.

Still life is a work of art that depicts artfully arranged inanimate objects. A narrative is the visual depiction of a story in works of art, and subject matter is the content of a work of art, what the artist chooses to depict. And today's lesson is a rather short one, but I'm showing you examples of most of these key terms.

So we'll start with the portrait and self portrait. And the reason that we care-- is it's important to understand the difference between the two, because both are portraits, but one is painted by another person and the other is painted by the artist themselves or herself.

So we'll begin with portrait, which was painted by someone else. And this is a portrait of Edward VII of England. This is his coronation painting from 1902. Self-portrait, again painted by the artist, and this is a self portrait of the artist Mary Beale from the late 17th century. So the subject matter is of her, and she is the one that painted it. So it's a self portrait.

We'll talk about the still life and landscape next. And why do we care? Well, the still life is a painting of arranged, inanimate or still objects. Simple enough. The landscape is a painting of the countryside. So this first still life, or the first image rather, is a still life of dishes and fruit by the French artist Henri Matisse from 1901. This landscape is by the Russian painter Isaac Levitan from 1894. Two good examples there.

Now the narrative. Once again, this artwork is about the fall of the rebel angels in heaven. I've shown this in a different lesson. It's a Christian story, and it's by the artist Pieter Bruegel of the Elder from the mid 16th-century. So why do we care? Well, the narrative is a work of art that depicts a story. In popular themes or really common themes involved were stories from the Bible, some Christian stories, classical myths from ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and regional folklore, were the most common themes.

So that brings us to the end of this lesson. Let's take a look at our objectives to see if we met them. Now that you've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms, and can you identify examples of today's key terms? The big idea once again is that the Subject Matter of a work of art is the content the artist is choosing to depict. So that's it. Thank you for joining me. I'll see you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Subject Matter

    The content of a work of art, what the artist chooses to depict.

  • Narrative

    The visual depiction of a story in works of art.

  • Still Life

    A work of art that depicts artfully arranged inanimate objects.

  • Landscape

    A work of art that takes the countryside as subject matter.

  • Self-Portrait

    An artist’s portrait of herself.

  • Portrait

    An image of an individual person.