Monday, January 11, 2010

The Art of Albrecht Dürer

In my home school co-op English class, I try to incorporate fine art. This week, we are continuing a literature study on Scott O'Dell's novel The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day, a tale featuring Bible translator William Tyndale during the Reformation era. To correspond with that, we are doing a Charlotte Mason style picture study of one of Albrecht Dürer's self portraits, followed by two homework assignments on descriptive paragraph writing using the paintings in this blog post. Next week in class, we will continue talking about Dürer, specifically about the theological impact that his contemporary Martin Luther had on him. We will be writing a persuasive paragraph for the writing assignment then.

In case you are wondering how I am going manage doing picture study with a class of 18 students, I actually have four decent sized copies of the "Self-Portrait in Fur Coat." One is in a book on Renaissance art that I've had for several years. Then, on the Books-a-Million $1 clearance cart, I found three copies of a beautiful hardback book of artwork by Grant Wood (think "American Gothic" -- dour farmer husband and wife with the pitchfork). This book coincidentally happened to have the Dürer portrait because Wood had studied it when he was in Europe. Next year when I teach American literature, we will do picture studies on Grant Wood's paintings. But I digress! Back to Dürer!

I'll try to post more about him in the near future, but wanted to mention the book Artist of the Reformation: The Story of Albrecht Dürer by Joyce McPherson, published by Greenleaf Press. It is written at a 5th-6th grade level, but is appropriate for older students as well. The book tells the story of his life, and includes some of his art work (only in black and white) as well as wonderful quotes.

I guess the point of this post is, don't neglect fine art, and try to integrate your history and English whenever you can! Great lives and great art will serve to inspire you and your children! There is a lovely home school art blog that will help you in this pursuit! Check it out here!

Now, on to the art work!

Albrecht Dürer
1471 - 1528

Self-Portrait in Fur Coat
Oil on panel, 67 x 49 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Self Portrait at 26
Oil on panel, 52 x 41 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Christ Among the Doctors
Oil on panel, 65 x 80 cm
Fundacion Coleccion Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

St Peter And St John Healing The Cripple
Engraving, 118 x 74 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Hands of the Apostle

1508, Sketch

A Young Hare
Watercolor and gouache on paper, 25 x 23 cm
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna

The Last Supper
1523; Wood Block: 21 x 30 cm
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Writing Assignment #1: Choose one of these pictures (other than the two self portraits) and write a descriptive paragraph. Include a topic sentence, at least three sentences containing supporting details, and a conclusion sentence. The topic sentence may contain the information supplied above each painting, such as when it was created, what kind of art it is, or what museum now owns it. The supporting detail sentences need to be your own observations about what is in the painting. The conclusion should include your opinion about the piece.

Writing Assignment #2: Write a paragraph that compares the two self portraits. The topic sentence will identify both paintings and make a statement of your opinion or observation about them. The supporting detail sentences will explain your topic sentence with specific examples. The conclusion will restate your opinion in different words.

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