William E. Winner, American
Oil on canvas
20 x 26 5/8 inches (50.8 x 67.6 cm)
The W. P. Wilstach Collection, bequest of Anna H. Wilstach, 1893
[ More Details ]
PA Academic Standards: History 8.3.9,B
NJ Academic Standards: Social Studies 6.4,A
(Auxiliary PA Standards: History 8.1.C,D; Lang. Arts 1.4, 1.8)
(Auxiliary NJ Standards: Lang. Arts 3.2, 3.5,A)
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 Museum 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.)
- Domestic Felicity by William E. Winner
- Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin by John Singleton Copley
- Landscape, the Seat of Mr. Featherstonhaugh in the Distance by Thomas Cole
- The Howe Highboy (furniture) by Nicholas Bernard and Martin Jugiez
- Chest (furniture) by Henry Shuker
Most research for school projects involve secondary sources, often described as scholarly investigations or interpretations of a document or artifact. School textbooks, for example, are typical secondary sources. A primary source, on the other hand, is a document or artifact created near the time period being researched, usually by someone with first-hand knowledge of the topic being researched. Using primary sources encourages the researcher to form his/her own conclusions, rather than relying on the conclusions expressed by others in secondary sources.
Works of art (in this case, including hand-crafted furniture) are viewed as a kind of primary source, particularly when investigating a culture or period in history.
- Consider the scene portrayed in Domestic Felicity by William E. Winner (Artstor search: "Domestic Felicity, Winner").
- Break the class into small groups (3 or 4) and give each group a large sheet of drawing paper. Have them divide the paper in half to form two columns. The first column should be labeled "inferences" and the second column should be labeled "evidence." (Perhaps discuss the meanings of these words.)
- Students in their groups should examine the painting and make a list of inferences on such topics as the people’s lifestyle, interests, and social standing. They should indicate also their evidence for forming these inferences.
- Follow the same process for the painting, Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin by John Singleton Copley (Artstor search: "Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin").
- Follow the process for a third time with the painting, Landscape, the Seat of Mr. Featherstonhaugh in the Distance by Thomas Cole (Artstor search: "Landscape, the Seat of Mr. Featherstonhaugh in the Distance").
- Consider the dates of these paintings: Winner, 1840s; Copley, 1770s; Cole, 1820s. What inferences can you add to or adjust from your lists, knowing the approximate dates of their creations?
- Pull the groups together to form class-lists of inferences re: the lifestyles of the people in these paintings.
- These are primary sources, and therefore lack the interpretations of historians or cultural investigators. How, then, could you check on the accuracy of your inferences? List ways of further researching these works to focus on your inferences about lifestyle. What other primary sources might be helpful? What secondary sources can you think of?
Elementary students should continue in their groups to further research and either support or refute some of their inferences—noting the secondary sources used in their research.
Middle school students should follow this same process individually, and high school students should list their additional sources using MLA (or APA, depending on school policy) style.
Hand-crafted furniture can also be viewed as a primary source when considering the lifestyle of the owner or user of the piece. With this in mind, follow the same process for forming inferences using The Howe Highboy by Nicholas Bernard and Martin Jugiez (Artstor search: "High Chest, furniture, the Howe Highboy").
Compare this piece to Chest (furniture) by Henry Shuker (Artstor search: "Chest, furniture," Henry Shuker). Use a Venn Diagram to organize your inferences on these two pieces.
Discuss whether researching furniture is more or less difficult than researching paintings. How would further research to validate or refute inferences proceed when working with objects such as furniture?
Alternative follow-up and Summative Assessment:
Bring pictures of your family, or photographs of furniture in your home. Consider what an outside observer (from another culture or another time) might conclude from your family's "primary sources." Write a paper describing your lifestyle, based on evidence from your photographs.
For more information, please contact Education: School & Teacher Programs by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .