I recently found myself in the daunting position of trying to explain the concept of artistic style to my children.

It would seem that just as fine art can be partly defined by the use of form, as opposed to content, to achieve an emotional effect, so also style in the fine arts is related to the 'how' of the form, as opposed to the 'what'. Style is also more of an attributive concept than a descriptive one: It comes more naturally to first assign a style by calling it the style of so-and-so or of such-and-such a school or period than to describe it by listing its features. This is to be expected, since style is the how of a form which itself affects the emotions, and it is thus easier to classify it by intuition than by declared logic. In fact, when we think we are describing the features of a style, we are usually just classing together a group of styles.

"Several prophets may receive one sign, but two prophets will never prophesy in one style."

Titian - Fete Champetre
  Image courtesy of Mark Harden's Artchive  
Fête Champètre, now attributed on the basis of style to Titian, formerly to Giorgione, and before that to the School of Giorgione.

Spaces, not commas, please!