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SSI2-157 | Chinese Painting in the West

Midterm Paper

For this assignment, you will choose a topic related to the collection of the Seattle Asian Art Museum.  Please check out the museum’s website and select at least one artwork that interests you. You can get some basic information about the objects from catalogues and/or what you have learnt from the instructor. See your assignment description on Canvas for full details. 

Tips on Using SAAM's Catalog

In the SAAM catalog, look for a bibliography associated with an image to find secondary sources for your museum paper. Search Primo for the item.

Example of  a book citation:


Example of an article citation:

What's a secondary source?

In secondary sources, authors analyze and interpret primary source materials. 

Secondary sources can be scholarly or popular.  Scholarly sources (sometimes called "academic" or "peer-reviewed" sources) are written by and for experts and typically include bibliographies and citations.  Popular sources are written for a general, non-expert audience and can be authored by anyone.

Examples: articles from art journals, books published by museums or university presses, exhibition catalogs

Analyzing a Work of Art

As you view a work of art, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my response to the work?
  • What is the title? Does it help explain the work?
  • How do the visual elements (line, color, space, texture) contribute to the work? What about the design (proportion, balance, unity/variety, rhythm)?
  • When, where, and why was the work made? By whom?
  • What is the subject matter?
  • What medium is used?

For more information about formal analysis, see The Art of Writing about Art and A Short Guide to Writing about Art and Writing about Art (ebook).

Finding More Sources

Start with Primo to find books and articles about the artwork you have chosen. Search:

  • Artist's name, ex. Shitao
  • Dynasty, ex. Song
  • Subject of the artwork, ex. flowering plum
  • Technique, ex. ink painting
  • Genre, ex. landscape painting


Search Primo

Search Collins+Summit+Articles


Search these databases to find articles.

Background Information