National Gallery of Art

On April 11th my Studio II class and I  headed down to the National Gallery of Art. It was an amazing day full of wonder and inspiration. As many of you know the majority of the east wing is currently closed for construction which means there was only a very small amount of modern art on display. I think my girls were a tad disappointed, but not dispirited in what they could see.

We have just finished a long unit of self portraits and looked to many of the great masters for inspiration. While we were at the museum I divided my class into two groups: Those students whom I knew to have an affinity for visible brush strokes (my impressionists) and those whom I knew to be very focused on smooth representational, precisely proportioned painting (my renaissance painters).

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My impressionist were asked to find Young Girl Reading, by Fragonard, Jean-Honoré. I asked them to think about what they had learned about the French revolution, and its connected art history. I also wanted them to really connect with the brush strokes. In addition to this my amazing principal who was my co-chaperone reminded them that an image of a women holding a book would have been revolutionary back then. She even helped them make a connection with our founding mothers, who had wanted to create an education for young women. Living through the French Revolution “Sophie Barat was awake to the social, political, economic and religious currents operating in Europe and in the wider world of her time. By her awareness of their impact on the world of education Sophie Barat ensured the Society’s contribution to the education and the promotion of women in her time and into the future,” according to the Society of the Sacred Heart.

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My renaissance painters were asked to find Da Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci. I asked them to think about why Leonardo Da Vinci chose to portray Ginevra from the front instead of at a profile view, like was popular at that time. I also told them that art historians do not know exactly who commissioned the portrait. I asked them if they could guess who it might have been, based on the brief history I had given them. A lover? Husband? Family member?

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At the end of the day we convened in the cascade cafe and a few of us had gelato while we waited for everyone to appear. Then it was back to school to reflect on the day we had had. It was an amazing outing.

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There I am in the stripped shirt! Look at these beautiful smiling faces!

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