Among the many treasures exhibited in the British Museum is a set of 11 frescoes from the tomb of an Egyptian official called Nebamun who lived in the ancient city of Thebes during the 18th Dynasty circa 1325 BC. He was an educated man, a scribe, and an administrator in charge of grain collection for the Temple of Amun at Thebes. His Tomb, discovered in the Theban Necropolis, on the west bank of the Nile, present-day Luxor, was richly decorated with high-quality frescoes depicting scenes of Nebamun and his family engaging in everyday life activities like hunting, attending a banquet and overseeing a count of geese and cattle.
The British Museum frescoes of Nebamun’s Tomb were discovered back in 1820 by a young man called Yanni d’Athanasi, who was at the time working for Henry Salt, the British Consul-General and collector of Antiquities. The Tomb, its location unknown today, was probably badly destroyed by d’Athanasi’s team of tomb robbers. The frescoes, however, were sold to Henry Salt and then, in 1821, by Salt, to the British Museum. Since 2009, beautifully restored, the frescoes have been displayed in a new gallery at the British Museum.
This is the case with the Peale family of Philadelphia and the extraordinary Still Life Paintings they created during the early 18th century.
Food for thought: Why is Still Life painting so popular during periods of national growth and prosperity?
James Peale, younger brother of portrait painter Charles Wilson Peale, is one of the best American miniaturists of the Federal Era, and a fine artist of Still Life painting. As a young man, he enlisted (1776) in the Continental Army and fought in the battles of Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Princeton, and Monmouth. Three years later, he resigned from his commission, and, in Philadelphia, he started a new career as an artist. James Peale is known for his large, oil portraits, his popularity, over 200, miniature portraits (watercolour on ivory) and his Still Life paintings. He was a popular and well-exhibited artist throughout his life. https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.6676.html
Still Life Painting has been a popular genre since antiquity. To quote: “A still life (also known by its French title, nature morte) painting is a piece that features an arrangement of inanimate objects as its subject.” From ancient Egypt to Greece, Rome, the Renaissance, Impressionism, Cubism to the Present, Still Life painting evolved reflecting social conditions, changed from realism to abstraction, and never ceased to surprise us with its popularity. https://mymodernmet.com/what-is-still-life-painting-definition/
Post-Revolution… Still Life is a RWAP (Research Writing Art Project) for my Grade 8 class on American Art. For student work… click HERE!
How the West met the East and how Impressionism was influenced by Japanese
My Summative Projects, I call them RWAP (Writing Research Art Project), ask students to focus on 4 parts: 1. Write a well thought Project Title 2. Provide colored copies of at least 2 artworks related to their Project, correctly identified. For the correct identification, I expect them to write the name of the artist (if known), the title of the work, date, medium, and current location, 3. Prepare the required Writing Assignment, 4. Do the Art Assignment which is open to student imagination and creativity.
For the Impressionism and Japonism RWAP Project students are asked to Investigate Impressionism and Japonism, and how the first was influenced by the second. Students are asked to focus on Monet’s painting La Japonaise exhibited in 1876, and attracting a lot of attention, of his wife Camille, dressed in a fine kimono, in front of a background of Japanese Uchiwe fans.
Japonism is the word used to describe the influence of Japanese art on European art and culture. Astounded by the great influence of Japanese art, the French journalist Philippe Burty wrote an article to describe strong European interest for Japanese artworks. The article was published in 1876 and the word Japonism became instantly popular. Students are asked to study the following articles:
The Writing Assignment for this RWAP on Impressionism and Japonism is to write about: A. A paragraph on fans in Japanese culture and art, the folding fan or the Uchiwa type, B. Why were fans so popular then? Was their use simply practical? How else were fans used by both men and women? Students can write about the use of fans in Japanese or European culture.
For student Art Assignment I can only suggest… decorate the pages of your RWAP Sketchbook, like Monet, with Uchiwa fans a or dazzle us with something glitzy like the Edo Screen. Most important… Be imaginative, Creative, Original!!!
Could “Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero” help you better understand… How do heroes accomplish such amazing feats? Or what turns an ordinary man into a hero? Have you ever wondered if we are all a little bit of a hero? What do great cities like Uruk look like?
The Sumerians, like many people of the Bronze Age (starts about the mid 4th millennium BC to about 1000 BC the latest), had a very spirited oral tradition. There were no books at the time, available for people to enjoy reading and get their imagination run uncontrolled and wild. Storytellers played an important role, getting people excited with stories about the great Heroes, fantastic achievements, strict morals and ethics. Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero, never failed to dazzle the Sumerians and he dazzles us today!
Gilgamesh was, the story tells us, one of the kings of the Sumerian city of Uruk. His name is on the list of kings of Sumer recovered from the library at Nineveh. Did he exist as a real person or was he just made up by the Sumerians? We may never know. Like many other Heroes around the world, he was a part god and part human. He was also endowed with divine powers, a great sense of duty and ethics. Could we call Gilgamesh the first superhero?
Imagine… the unimaginable, and Gilgamesh did it. Along with his faithful friend Enkidu (friendship is always important for a Hero) they traveled the world fighting terrible monsters, rescuing people in need, moving mountains and rivers… in other words, protecting and saving the people of Sumer from any imaginable calamity. How do we know all these amazing facts? Clay tablets, preserved at the Library of ancient Nineveh and written in cuneiform writing, inform us with interesting details!
“Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero,” Educational Videos and Interesting PowerPoints
A small Bronze Age Vessel with Palm Trees became the focal point of my interest and a simple yet creative Activity. It was love at first sight!
While visiting the “Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures from Saudi Arabia” Exhibition, a small 5,000-year-old Chlorite Vessel decorated with Palm Trees caught my eye. I was at the Benaki Museum in Athens and I was stunned and intrigued. So much so that I began searching and thus a journey started to an island in the Persian Gulf, called Tarout. The journey revealed a Near Eastern island site where creativity, imagination, craftsmanship, and trade, throughout the ancient Near East, from Syria to the Indus Valley, reigned supreme!
The Palm Tree decoration used by the Tarout artists became an “interlude” kind of Activity for many of my classes. I used the PP and the Worksheets I prepared with my Grade 3 students when aspects of the Bronze Age were discussed and with Grade 6 Social Studies students while we explored the Indus River Valley trade routes. It gives me a chance to examine along with my students, how ideas, artistic endeavors, and goods “traveled” around the world, influenced people and created connections and relations.
For my PP in Vessel with Palm Trees in Bronze Age Art… Check HERE!
“Artists and designers are always looking for inspiration, and what better place to find it than an art museum’s encyclopedic collections of great treasures.” Realizing how important this is, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collaborates with establishing artists and designers “to create a range of art-inspired products, from T-shirts and fragrances to jewelry and bags.” Check out this Observer article and check my Worksheets … HERE! … get inspired to create your own Palm Tree artwork!
Palm Trees and a Student Activity
For the “Vessel with Palm Trees” Activity I use the recommended PP and the Worksheets I created. Photocopy them, and if you wish, enlarge them, so as students have more space to work on. Show students the prepared PP, then discuss how the Palm Tree is used as a decorative motif by the artists of the Bronze Age in the Near East and in Minoan Crete as well.
Show students how designer Kendall Conrad was inspired by the LACMA chlorite handled weight. “This artwork first caught my eye because it was in the shape of a bag, but the carved image is what I fell in love with,” she said.
So, we take a Selfie and post it on Instagram, or the school photographer comes along and takes our photo for the Yearbook. Have you thought about why or how it is done? How did people immortalize themselves before photography was invented in the mid-1800s? Can you guess the reasons behind historical portraits or contemporary snapshots? Do you want to explore, research or investigate American Colonial Portraits?
Are funny faces part of your repertoire when someone takes your photograph? For hundreds of years, it was rare to see facial expressions like frowning, laughing, or smiling in portraits. People were expected to look dignified and composed. Any facial expression was thought of as unpleasant or even ugly. Expressive eyes were more important than smiling mouths! Were all the portraits solemn and austere?
Portraits have been a popular subject among artists and patrons throughout the ages. From ancient Egyptian renderings on Tomb walls at Saqqara, in Egypt, to Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits and the abstracted works of Pablo Picasso, artists have depicted all kinds of portraits and in a wide variety of ways.
“American Colonial Portraits” Activities
Activities in this presentation were created for my Grade 8 American Art class, but can be adapted and used for any Class or Unit on Portraiture. Students, individually or with partners, will explore and then express their own views on Portraiture by creating original work of writing or art.
Individual Student Activity 1: This is a Writing Across the Curriculum Activity on Adjectives. Students are asked to INVESTIGATE the meaning of each adjective in the provided Worksheet, by Clicking HERE!
Students’ GOAL is to find, for each Letter, the most descriptive Adjective for the word PORTRAIT and what it represents. They are asked to WRITE the adjectives of their choice, next to the corresponding Letter on the provided Worksheet. In conclusion, students are further asked to WRITE explanatory sentences with the adjectives of their choice.
Student Activity … with a Partner 1: Students are asked to work with a partner and prepare A POEM FOR TWO VOICES by… Clicking HERE!
Working in pairs, pretending to be Mr. John Freake and Mrs. Elizabeth Freake, students are asked to complete the phrases in the Template. For the “we” statements, students should find a word that describes the feelings/thoughts/wants/wills of both of them. Look at the painting for inspiration. A POEM FOR TWO VOICES is meant to be read aloud. So, rehearse with your partner for an incredible presentation. Each partner will read/recite their “I” parts individually and together, they will read/recite the “WE” parts. This is a wonderful activity for Upper Elementary and Middle School students.
Info on American Colonial Portraits and A Poem for Two Voices
The Limbourg Brothers are among my favorite artists! The month of May in “Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry,” the manuscript, is another favorite.
A merry group of horse-riding men and women, wearing their finest garments, May wreaths on their heads, attended by servants and entertained by musicians, this group of elegant aristocrats depicts, according to the Limbourg brothers, a May pageant. In the center of the composition, a young woman, maybe Joan II, Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne, on a white horse, is dressed in a rich traditional green garment, known at the time as “ livrée de Mai.” In front of her, with his back to the viewer, is the Duc de Berry, impressive in his gold-embroidered blue robe, is depicted turning and talking to his bride-to-be.
Paul Limbourg, the probable painter of this page, organized his composition in three levels. The Duke’s entourage occupies the first level displaying vibrant colors, subtle movement and wealth. The second level, a deep, green forest, along with two indications of shrubbery in the very front of the picture, creates an alcove of tranquility, serenity and a sense of safety for the group of aristocrats to continue. Finally, the third level, rendered in lapis lazuli blue, indicates the possible location of this event. The rooftops of Hôtel de Neslé, the Conciergerie and the Tour de l’Horloge in the Isle de la Cité tell us we are in Paris, it’s the 1st of May and it’s time to celebrate!
Herman, Paul, and Johan Limbourg, c. 1385 – 1416
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, the month of May page, c. 1412-1416, manuscript illumination on vellum, 30 cm in height by 21.5 cm, Musée Condé, Chantilly, France
“Teaching with Vincent Van Gogh” is a set of student activities and worksheets inspired by the great Dutch artist everyone admires.
When the globally acclaimed “Van Gogh Alive – The Experience” exhibition made its way to Thessaloniki, I prepared my students for an organized Educational Trip.
“Make no mistake – this is no ordinary art exhibition. From start to finish, visitors will be surrounded by a powerful and vibrant symphony of light, colour, and sound that will compel them to leave the world behind and immerse themselves in what has been called an ‘unforgettable’ multi-sensory experience. Van Gogh’s masterpieces come to life as visitors experience the sensation of walking right into their paintings – a feeling that is simultaneously enchanting, entertaining and educational.”
“Teaching with Vincent Van Gogh” Activities
If you are interested in Teaching with Vincent van Gogh, I put together a List of Student Activities, from Museums in the US and Europe (the great Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) that, hopefully, justifies my name “teachercurator”. Some of these Activities were used by colleagues of mine, in our different school Departments.
For Van Gogh Lesson Plans and Activities … Click HERE!
The Art of Portraiture during the Byzantine Period is an interesting topic to explore! Portraits have been a popular subject among artists and patrons throughout the ages. From ancient Egyptian renderings on Tomb walls at Saqqara, in Egypt, to Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits and the abstracted works of Pablo Picasso, artists have depicted all kinds of portraits and in a wide variety of ways.
For Byzantine Art, the representation of the human face is important, yet very specific rules need to be followed, so as to depict it correctly. Byzantine Portraits embody a spiritual presence and the eyes play the role of the protagonist! Thus, eyes are affectionately called … the windows of the soul!
“The Art of Portraiture during the Byzantine Period” is an Activity I use in my Grade 7 Art History Class on Byzantium. Students enjoy comparing the three different portraits, discussing similarities and differences and thus, drawing conclusions.
Living in Thessaloniki, Greece, a city with 15 Byzantine UNESCO Monuments of Cultural Heritage, exploring the Art of the Byzantine Period is imperative!!!
My students love nothing more than a good Greek Myth like Heracles and the Lion of Nemea!!!
Myths are such fascinating stories. They were created at a time, so far away from our fast-paced, cosmopolitan, technologically savvy world, and yet, they are still relevant in helping shape modern thinking. Myths talk about duty, penance, responsibility, love, exploration, sacrifice, originality, imagination, creativity, effort, humility, industry, curiosity, character, kindness, strength, success, resilience, arrogance, spirit ….
They can still advise us on the faults of political arrogance (Theseus and the Minautor), global warming (Phaethon and the Chariot of the Sun), the power of creativity (the Wings of Daedalus), penance not punishment (the Labours of Hercules), exploration (Jason and the Argonauts) …
For years now I have found myself relying on Greek Mythology like Heracles and the Lion of Nemea so as to enrich my curriculum. From Grade 1 to all Grades of High School, my students get a taste of these fascinating stories, “reading” them, in ways appropriate for their level.
As a result, students are 100% engaged, and teaching is so gratifying!
Use it to introduce ideas like Mythology, Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome, Art, Social Studies, Language Arts, Visual Arts
Heracles and the Lion of Nemea Lesson Plan Analysis
Do ancient Greek myths help students a glimpse of what people thought in the past, what they considered important and how their morals worked?
Do ancient Greek myths contribute to the classic and modern understanding of life?
To help students connect the past with the present
Assist students learn about mythology from works of art
Ancient Greek myths are narratives, formative or reflective, of social order or values.
Ancient Greek myths serve as a warning for people on how they should and should not be.
Steps to Success – Heracles and the Lion of Nemea
The Power of Music
Start your Lesson with a song from the “Lion King”
The Lion King – Circle of LifeIntroduction to the Lesson – Heracles and the Lion of Nemea – No more than 2 minutes.
2. Review of the Essential Questions
ancient Greek myths give students a glimpse of how people thought in the past,
what they considered important and how their morals worked?
Do ancient Greek myths contribute to the classic and modern understanding of life?
3. Visual Learning – “7 Roar…some Lion Facts”
Show students the PP “teachercurator” has prepared, discuss Lion Facts and thus prepare students for the Lion of Nemea story … Click HERE
4. The Power of Story-Telling – Get your students to your classrooms’ coziest area, then sit them down and tell them the story of Hercules and the Lion of Nemea. It is important for them to “feel” and “live” the Myth. So, my advice is not to read the myth, even from the finest book. Use your dramatic voice and “act” it out, captivating your students’ imagination.
5. Practice Visual Learning
6. Be Inquisitive
Discuss each picture – ask students the questions “teachercurator” prepared for you. For the PP in Hercules and the Lion of Nemea … Click HERE
For the QandA the “teachercurator” has prepared … Click HERE!
7. Review Enduring Understanding
Ancient Greek myths
are narratives, formative or reflective, of social order or values.
Overall Ancient Greek myths serve as a warning to people on how they should and should not be.
Heracles and the Lion of Nemea Assessment Activities
This is what my Grade 1 students created for the Hercules and the Lion of Nemea Lesson. I downloaded and used an “Internet” free Lion mask, I cut different colored strips of paper, asked students to paint Lion’s face, glue the strips … and VOILA!