Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, French
Oil on canvas
32 3/8 x 30 1/4 inches (82.2 x 76.8 cm)
Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1937
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PA Academic Standards: Language Arts 1.2 A, B, E; Arts 9.3 A(Auxiliary PA Standards: Language Arts 1.3 A, 1.4 A, B; Arts 9.4 B)
NJ Academic Standards: Language Arts 3.1 G, 3.5 B; Visual Arts 1.4 B
(Auxiliary NJ Standards: Language Arts 3.2 A, 3.3 B; Visual Arts 1.3 D)
Grade Level:For Grades 7-9, with modifications for Elem. and H.S.
Art Images Required:(A note about images: All images listed can be found by searching the collection at the PMA Website www.philamuseum.org. Those images that are also available from ARTstor are indicated in the body of the lesson plan with a search phrase. Typing that exact search phrase will direct you to the specific image from the ARTstor database.)
- At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- Courtier on Horseback Japanese
- The Ballet Class by Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas
- Although this lesson may serve to introduce the topics discussed below, it would be best if the class had previously read a novel or short stories that can serve as literary references
- While biographers and historians are guided by actual events, artists and writers can select those details that suit their purposes, specifically to develop character, tone, conflict, and theme.
- Review and discuss a story (or novel) read by the class recently. Make a list on the board of specific details the writer included in the story.
- After the discussion and list of details, organize the list into categories, according to the purpose served by the detail:
- to reveal character traits
- to foreshadow events or conflicts
- to present author's tone
- to guide the reader toward theme
- (Note that some details may serve more than one purpose.)
- Display the image, At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (ARTstor search: "At the Moulin Rouge – The Dance, Philadelphia")
- Have students work with a partner to examine the image and respond to the following questions:
- How would you describe the setting?
- Are these people having fun? Who is and who isn't?
- How does the crowd seem to react to the dance?
- Discuss their results as a class, indicating for each response the details in the painting that caused the partners to respond as they did.
- Using the same categories for the earlier discussion of details in fiction, list the details students found in the painting.
- As a class, select one person from the painting, and list character/personality traits. Have students explain which details led them to their assumptions.
- Display the image: Courtier on Horseback (ARTstor search: "Pair of Doors: Sugito")
- With their partners, students should examine the painting to determine the approximate season of the year and the emotional reaction of the rider to the snowfall.
- In a discussion of their assumptions, seek the details that the artist selected to show indicating time of year (setting) and reaction of the rider (character traits).
- Examine more closely the response of students to the emotional reaction of the rider to the snowfall. Look for differences among students. How much of their response is based on details from the painting and how much from their own background and experiences?
- From this, define and clarify the differences between "analysis" of any work of art (literature included) and "interpretation" of that work.
- View the image: The Ballet Class by Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (ARTstor search: "The Ballet Class, Degas, Philadelphia")
- As a formative assessment, have students respond individually to the following questions:
- What details give hints to the ages of the girls in the class?
- What details tell you how advanced this class is?
- What details indicate who the artist considers the "main characters" of this painting?
- Discuss the conclusions of the students.
Assessment:Elementary: Select any two people from the 3 paintings you have examined. What do they have in common? How are they different? Compare and Contrast your two people, focusing on such things as how they seem to react to what is happening around them and on their apparent "station in life" or social class. Write about what you have concluded in a narrative essay format, and tell which of these two people you would rather have as a good friend (and why). Secondary: Select one of these paintings and one short story you have recently read. In an informational essay format, describe how artists and writers select specific details to suit their purposes. Make sure you include specific examples from both the painting and the short story, and make sure you have connected those examples to a specific artist's/writer's purpose.
Remediation:View or recall any scene from your daily life. After a brief summary of the scene, include a list of details which you feel would indicate the personalities of the people involved.
Enrichment:Elementary: Select one person from one of the paintings, and write an imaginary dialogue between that person and the artist. Secondary: Artists and writers often select characters and provide details that make them typical of certain "types" of people—or "archetypes." This allows the artist/writer to make general comments about these types of people, and may be an important component of theme. Select people from the paintings or characters from fiction you have read who could be considered archetypes. Do you know anyone who is so typical of a type of person that he/she could be an archetype? Why is this type of thinking (which is so helpful in fiction and in art) so dangerous when considering other human beings?
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