A structural analysis system for describing natural textures is introduced. The analyzer automatically extracts the texture elements in an input image, measures their properties, classifies them into some distinctive classes (one ``ground'' class and some ``figure'' classes), and computes the distributions of the gray level, the shape, and the placement of the texture elements in each class. These descriptions are used for classification of texture images. An analysis-by-synthesis method for evaluating texture analyzers is also presented. We propose a synthesizer which generates a texture image based on the descriptions. By comparing the reconstructed image with the original one, we can see what information is preserved and what is lost in the descriptions.