Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 5 - Perspective

Recall and define the term Renaissance.
Observe a relationship between the ideals of perspective in the Italian Renaissance and architecture.
Contrast perspective paintings of Italian Renaissance with those of other periods and traditions.
Experiment with using vanishing point perspective to create depth in a sketch.
Indicate 1435 on class time line as the time when a treatise was written in Italy about using perspective in painting.

Reproductions of Italian Renaissance paintings that emphasize the use of perspective
Paper (at least 2 pieces per student), pencils, and crayons for students to sketch

Suggested Books
Beckett, Sister Wendy. The Story of Painting. New York: Dorling Kindersley in Association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994.

Also recommended in the Overview, the book has numerous examples of Italian Renaissance painting. On pp. 88-89, Sister Wendy uses the same Uccello painting as is shown in the Eyewitness Renaissance book to illustrate her "talk" about perspective. Excellent reference for the teacher and to show reproductions to class.

Blizzard, Gladys S. Come Look With Me: World of Play. Charlottesville, VA: Thomasson-Grant, 1993.

Part of an excellent series. This has only a dozen well-chosen reproductions from many different cultural traditions plus a few thoughtful questions to ask students about each. The 16th-century Persian painting reproduced on p. 10 would be a wonderfully engaging example to contrast with Italian Renaissance painting.

Cole, Alison. The Renaissance. London: Dorling Kindersley in association with The National Gallery, London, 1994.

Part of the Eyewitness Art series and filled with the usual well-chosen reproductions and well-organized information. Each two-page spread really comprises a chapter; "The 'Invention' of perspective" on pp. 28-29 makes excellent teacher background.

Holme, Bryan. Enchanted World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.

The layout and choices of reproductions make it an ideal choice for showing examples of contrasting paintings to the class: some conceived with no thought of perspective at all as opposed to those of the Italian Renaissance. In particular, show the students the Persian miniatures on pp. 51 and 70-71 with those on p. 32.

Knox, Bob. The Great Art Adventure. New York: Rizzoli, 1993.

Another imaginative visit to a museum with young people--this time to a Museum of World Art. Great for reading aloud and showing the pictures or letting students browse independently. Every left-hand page has a full-color reproduction with information about its country and style of origin; on the right, Knox's cartoon-like rendering (always with a bit of humor) in the style of the original. Almost every reproduction--whether Celtic, Indian, Egyptian, Tibetan scroll, or Russian icon--would be wonderful contrasts for Renaissance goals of perspective.


Ask the students: Who can tell me the difference between a circle and a sphere? A square and a cube? (The first of each pair is two-dimensional; the second, three-dimensional.) Ask them next what kinds of art they can think of that deal directly with three-dimensional space and objects (sculpture and architecture). Brainstorm with the students about why the sculptor and architect have to be so concerned with three dimensions in their artwork. Some of the suggestions might be: balance, so things don't fall down; so things look beautiful from the back as well as the front.

Congratulate the class if they have contributed to a discussion.

Next ask them: What about painters? Do they have to be concerned with three-dimensional space and objects in their artwork? (not necessarily) Students will probably guess that they do. At this point, have them take a piece of paper and say to them: If I were to ask you to draw a really simple table, what would it look like? Give them about five minutes to make quick sketches. Circulate around the room and observe what they are doing. Chances are most of them will have attempted to draw something with the illusion of three dimensions. Say to them that now that they are in Fifth Grade, they probably think they need to show the height, width, and depth of a table, whereas when they were just first graders, they probably would simple draw a horizontal line for a table top with four straight lines in a row for legs (draw exagerrated and simple "first-grader" sketch on board).

Tell the class that the truth is, painters have not always been so concerned about showing three-dimensionality in their artworks. Show them examples of Persian miniatures, Russian icons, early medieval illuminations or Gothic paintings (see Suggested Books for examples and page numbers indicated above) and ask the students to tell you what the painters' main concerns were in these works, if it wasn't to show three-dimensional space and objects. (Accept any answers that indicate some thinking.)

Say to the class: In Western Europe, painters first became very concerned with showing what they called perspective in Italy (have someone point out on map) during the Renaissance.

(The term was defined in Second Grade Art Lesson 27 and reviewed in Lesson 30 as meaning "rebirth." The Italian Renaissance was defined as a rebirth of Greek ideals of beauty, balance, and symmetry.) Review the term with the class, adding that in Third Grade they saw how the Romans also valued the Greek ideals, so that by the time of the Italian Renaissance, the artists were thinking about both Greek and Roman art. They were thinking especially about Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture, which as we noticed are three-dimensional forms of art.

Tell them that when these Italian Renaissance artists decided to translate the beauty and ideals of Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture to their painting, they did it by using what they called perspective. Say to them: I am going to show you some examples of Renaissance paintings using perspective and, after you've looked at some, see whether we can come up with a definition of the term perspective. If you have the Sister Wendy book or the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Renaissance book, show the class the painting by Paolo Uccello called The Hunt in the Forest; otherwise, show them any Italian Renaissance painting that you think clearly shows the use of perspective. Then ask the class what they think perspective is. Basically, you want them to see that perspective is a way of painting a flat surface so that when you look at it, your eye sees just what it would see in nature. If they have trouble understanding or believing it, have them look at a painting such as the Uccello and ask: Are those trees (or people, or horses, or whatever) all approximately the same size? (yes) Let's measure and see what the painter did.

(Take a ruler and demonstrate that there is a great difference in the height of the trees as they move back into space.)

Tell the students that the person who figured out a scientific way of using perspective in painting was an Italian architect named Alberti who lived from 1404 to 1472. He wrote a book called On Painting in 1435 in which he described just how to create a horizon line first, and then what we call a vanishing point on that horizon line so that our eyes are drawn into the painting in exactly the same way as they might be in nature. In addition, even though the vanishing point itself is not visible in the painting, the fact that the painter knew exactly where that point would be allows his painting to tell us just where we should look. If you have a time line in your room, it would be good to mark the date 1435 as the beginning of the use of vanishing point perspective in Italian Renaissance painting, so that the students can follow the progression of the Renaissance in Italy and then through northern Europe.


If there is time, set the class a task of sketching something using a horizon line and vanishing point perspective. Remind the students that they have already had some experience drawing foreground, middle ground, and background in a landscape (in Visual Arts Lesson 2) and that they used three different sized cutout objects to indicate depth in their landscapes. This time, they are going to experiment with the Renaissance idea of vanishing point perspective to create the illusion of depth in their sketches. Several good possibilities for this experiment would be:
1. Have the class sit at the end of a long corridor in the school and sketch what they see.
2. Have the students go outside and sit on the sidewalk, looking down one or more large thoroughfares, and sketch what they see, including the buildings.
3. If it is necessary to stay in the classroom, have the students divide up and sit in one of the four extreme corners of the room, sketching the floor, walls, and ceiling as they see them.
Circulate among them to make sure that--at the very beginning--they have each drawn a horizon line not too close to the bottom of the paper and indicated the placement of a vanishing point. When they have finished their sketches, hang them where they can be seen and admired.

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 6 - Raphael and Perspective

Recall ideals of perspective in Italian Renaissance.
Look carefully at Raphael's painting The Marriage of the Virgin.
Observe Raphael's techniques for creating illusion of 3-dimensional perspective in painting.
Experiment with vanishing point perspective.
Observe Renaissance preoccupation with architecture in painting.

Reproduction of Raphael's The Marriage of the Virgin, see Suggested Books below

Illustrations of domed Italian Renaissance architecture, see Suggested Books below

Drawing paper and pencils for each student

Suggested Book with Reproduction of Painting for Today's Lesson:

Cole, Alison. The Renaissance. London: Dorling Kindersley in association with The National Gallery, London, 1994.

A good illustration of Brunelleschi's dome for the Cathedral at Florence as an exampleof the kind of Italian Renaissance architecture pictured in the painting by Raphael for today's lesson.

Isaacson, Philip M. Round Buildings, Square Buildings, & Buildings That Wiggle Like a Fish. New York: Knopf, 1988.

Wonderful photographs of architecture from all times and places with commentary very readable for fifth graders. The Brunelleschi dome is pictured on p. 72; the dome of St. Peter's, designed by Michelangelo, on p. 68.

Raboff, Ernest. Raphael. New York: Harper Trophy, 1988.

One of Raboff's excellent Art for Children series. This one entirely appropriate for 5th graders to read on their own as well as for the teacher sharing reproductions in class. Basic biographical sketch of Raphael Sanzio, plus good commentary on twenty color reproductions of his works. Full page reproduction of The Marriage of the Virgin in about the middle of the unpaged book.

E.D. Hirsch's What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know has a small, black and white reproduction of The Marriage of the Virgin on p. 247, but it is much more convincing to see a large reproduction in color as in the book above.


Show the students a reproduction of Raphael's The Marriage of the Virgin without telling them the name of the painting or artist and ask where and when this picture might have been painted (Italian Renaissance--have students take a look at the 1435 date on the time line; they can guess it would have been painted some time not too long after that; actual date of the painting is 1504). Have the students review the definition of Renaissance and tell you what in Raphael's painting gives them clues that the painting was done during the Italian Renaissance. The most obvious things to notice would be the use of vanishing point perspective (have them point out where in the painting that point is located), the importance of architecture to the painting, the perfect balance of the left and right sides.

At this point you might show the class a few examples of Italian Renaissance architecture that feature domes like the one in the Raphael painting. The best choice would be an illustration of the Brunelleschi dome on the Cathedral in Florence. Have them observe it carefully; point out what a great engineering accomplishment it was. Let them try to figure out how many sections are in the dome (8) and notice how they are supported by the ribs of the dome. Tell the students that the dome is called the Brunelleschi (broo nel LES kee) dome, named after the Italian Renaissance architect who designed it, and that it was built between the years 1420 and 1436. Ask them: How does that compare with the date we put down on the time line at the last lesson? (just about the same time) What could we conclude from that? (lots of architecture, engineering, artistic activity and achievements during that time period)

Show the Raphael painting to the class again and ask: What do you notice that's unusual about the shape of this painting? (dome-shaped at the top) Why do you suppose the painter chose to do that? (echoes the shape of the dome, draws our attention up to the top, shaped like "the dome of the sky," accept all responses) Ask the students: Who can show me (or describe) where the vanishing point is in this painting? (beyond the open door in the domed building) What else besides that open door pulls our eye right into the picture and to that vanishing point? (the patterning on the pavement and steps leading to the building)

There are no trees in this painting. What could we use as a measure for what appears in foreground, middle ground, and background? (people, human figures) Have someone volunteer to take a ruler and measure the people in the foreground, the middle ground, and the background to prove that the painter has deliberately sized them in a way that shows figures in the distance in the same perspective as our eyes see them. What else do those tiny figures in the background show us? (how enormous the domed building is by comparison)

Next, ask about the people: who are they? Can anyone guess what the subject of this painting is? (If no one knows, try to give them hints about the subject in general. The students might be led to guess that this is a marriage ceremony by the position of the man and woman with someone officiating in between them.) When the students have had some guesses, tell them that the painting is by an Italian Renaissance painter named Raphael, and the name of the painting is "The Marriage of the Virgin." Tell them this means the marriage of the mother of Jesus, the marriage of Mary and Joseph. Ask them: Who do you think the man right in the center of the painting is? (the rabbi who is marrying them) Why is a rabbi marrying them? (Mary and Joseph are Jews.) What about the people on either side of Mary and Joseph? Why do you think they are all women on one side and all men on the other? Who do you think they are? (brides' attendants on Mary's side; groom's attendants on Joseph's side)

Does anyone remember from Second Grade World Civilization what part of the world Mary and Joseph and Jesus lived in? (Near East, have someone find on map) And about where on the time line would they fit? (near 0, or the line that divides B.C. from A.D.) From what we learned about the climate and people of the lands of the Bible in those times, do you think that Raphael is showing us what they looked like in Biblical times or in his own times? (his own times) How can you tell? (clothing, the architecture of the domed building, the Italian countryside, no palm trees, doesn't look very hot there since people are dressed in lots of clothes)

What about the colors that Raphael has used? (Accept all responses that show the students are observing. They might note the predominance of black, red, some gold among the people.) Can you tell anything from the faces of the people? How do you think they feel? (serious, some might guess sad) Let the students guess/discuss why the people at this marriage might look sad, or at least very serious.

If there is time, pass out paper to the class and let them experiment with using people as the things whose size determines foreground, middle ground, and background. Using the

measurements they observed in the Raphael painting plus a horizon and vanishing point, have them draw three different groups of people in a way that encourages our eyes to move into the depth of the picture. When they are finished, let them talk about the problems they found doing the experiment and how they tried to solve them.

Tell the class that they will look at some more paintings by Raphael and learn more about him too.Tell them: First you will learn about an Italian Renaissance man whose work influenced Raphael and was not only a painter, but also a scientist, an inventor, and a student of anatomy. His name begins with L and he is still very very famous. Try to think what his name might be before our next lesson. His first name begins with L and has four syllables.

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 7 - Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper

Observe the contributions of Leonardo to many branches of Renaissance thought.
Look carefully at Leonardo's painting of The Last Supper.
Speculate about the reasons artists have tried to repair and restore The Last Supper.
Complete a journal prompt.

Reproduction of Leonardo's The Last Supper, see Suggested Books below
Biographical information about Leonardo, see below
Classroom-size world map

Suggested Books
Capek, Michael. Murals: Cave, Cathedral, to Street. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1996.

Good for showing and sharing, but text is too sophisticated for reading aloud and hard for students to read independently. Illustrations from sections of this book can make students aware of the long tradition of mural painting that Leonardo's fresco is part of.

Cole, Alison. The Renaissance. London: Dorling Kindersley in association with The National Gallery, London, 1994.

Pp. 36-40, called "The Genius of Leonardo" and "Leonardo's Explorations" would make excellent student reference, because the texts are concise and comment directly on the particular reproductions that are pictured.

Costantino, Maria. Leonardo. New York: Brompton Books & Smithmark, 1994.

This book is nearly "larger than life" (10 by 14 ) and would certainly be ideal to share in the classroom if you borrow it from the library. There are huge reproductions of drawings as well as paintings. The text is too sophisticated for reading aloud. A full, two- page reproduction of The Last Supper forms pp.66-67 with further enlarged details on pp. 68-71.

Romei, Francesca. Leonardo da Vinci. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1994.

Another in Bedrick Books' Masters of Art series, in which each two-page spread is really a complete chapter. The book is enormous (11" x 14") and beautifully printed but somewhat overwhelming for anything other than teacher background and/or independent student browsing.

Stanley, Diane. Leonardo da Vinci. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1996.

A story book about Leonardo; only the drawings reproduced as emblems are by Leonardo. The rest of the very beautiful illustrations were painted by the author. Good for reading aloud, but also very accessible for independent reading by good Fifth Grade readers.

Venezia, Mike. Da Vinci. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1989.

Another in the well known series "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists." The thorough presentation in straightforward text and reproductions makes this highly suitable for students to read independently. A color reproduction of Leonardo's The Last Supper is on p. 23.

Williams, Jay. Leonardo da Vinci. New York: Harper & Row with the American Heritage Publishing Co., 1965.

Hardly a new book, but remarkably comprehensive in its coverage of the artist and his works--not just paintings but many drawings and diagrams by Leonardo. Chapters are

devoted to Leonardo as artist, engineer, inventor, and scientist. A two-page reproduction of The Last Supper forms the Endsheets and appears again on pp. 52-53. Excellent for teacher reference and for showing reproductions to the class.


Start by asking the class whether anyone has figured out who the Italian Renaissance artist is who was a painter who influenced Raphael, an inventor and scientist, a student of anatomy, whose first name begins with L and has four syllables. When his name has been established, tell the students that he is called Leonardo da Vinci because, in Italian, that means Leonardo from Vinci, which is the name of the town where he was born and grew up. Tell them: Leonardo lived from 1452-1519 and the painting we are going to look at today took him several years to complete--from 1495 to 1497. That might be a good date to put on the time line to remind us that Leonardo was doing some of his best work then.

Ask the class: What other things can you think of that were happening around that time? What do we think of when someone says 1492 for example? (Columbus) So, that reminds us that European explorers such as Columbus, Dias, and Vasco da Gama were trying to get to the Indies around the same time. Also, we know that Gutenberg in Germany had recently invented movable type, which made a revolutionary change in people's ability to buy and read books. That tells us that in many countries of Western Europe people were very curious to know more about the world, discover new lands and new ways of doing things. Leonardo's curiosity led him to learn about an incredible number of different subjects. We know about his experiments and inventions, because he put them all down in notebooks that he wrote and illustrated with very detailed drawings. (If you have some of the Suggested Books, above, this would be a good time to show some of the drawings to the class and explain what they are. Be sure to point out that the reason all of the writing in the notebooks looks "unreadable" is because Leonardo wrote everything in "mirror writing," or backwards. Some people have suggested Leonardo did this because he was left-handed; others, because he wanted to keep his ideas as secret as possible. The students may have further ideas about this.)

Leonardo studied nature and made detailed drawings of plants; he made plans to remodel completely the Italian city of Milan, and tried to divert a river for irrigation purposes; he dissected corpses and made detailed drawings of all the muscles and bones; he made architectural drawings of buildings; and he designed all kinds of defensive and offensive war machinery. One of his greatest desires was to invent a way for human beings to fly, and so he studied and sketched in great detail the workings of the wings of birds. He even built glider machinery that fit over a man's back. He had such a restless and inventive mind that he left many of his paintings unfinished, because there were so many projects that fascinated him.

Show the class a color reproduction of The Last Supper (see where they appear in Suggested Books, above) and tell them that this is one of Leonardo's most famous paintings, and one that he did finish. Ask whether they think it looks finished (probably not). Tell the students: The reason it may not look finished is that Leonardo had invented a special mixture of paint for this project, and hardly more than a few years after he had completed it, the paint began to separate and peel from the wall. Many times over the last 500 years that the painting has existed, artists have tried to repair and restore the painting, but none of the attempts have been completely successful. Ask them: Why do you think artists consider this painting so important that they have tried over and over again to preserve what Leonardo did? (Allow some responses and then suggest that they keep the question in their minds while looking at the painting more closely.)

Tell the students that the painting was done to cover one flat wall of a room in a monastery in Milan, Italy (have someone find on map) where Leonardo was employed by the duke of the city. The wall is in the refectory, which is the room where the monks have all their meals. Ask: Do you think this was a good choice for having in the refectory of the monastery, and why or why not? (Yes, because it shows men eating a meal.) Ask the students whether they think this painting was conceived with vanishing point perspective (yes) and why (looks three- dimensional, seems to form part of the room, makes our eyes look as though through the windows and to the landscape outside). Ask whether anyone can guess the subject of the painting and, if not, give them some hints (most important figure shown by his position at the center of the table). Tell the students the name of the painting is "The Last Supper," and it shows Christ in the center with his twelve disciples. Have them count the disciples and note how they are arranged in balanced groups around the central figure of Christ. Ask them: Do the disciples look happy, sad, excited, upset, how would you describe their faces? (Encourage all responses.)

Ask the students what they think is going on in the painting that produces so much feeling in the faces and movement in the bodies of the disciples. (Again, encourage all responses, not just the "correct" answer according to biblical tradition.) When everyone who wants to speak has responded, tell them that Jesus has just told his disciples that one among them is about to betray him. See whether the students can find the disciple (Judas) who will betray Jesus and describe the way in which Leonardo has painted him.

Ask the students whether they can tell from looking closely at the painting that Leonardo had spent so much time studying the way the human body is constructed. If yes, how can they tell? (figures have weight, convincing movements, do not look "posed" or stuck in one unlikely position)

Remind the students that they have looked at many other kinds of wall painting over the last few years. Ask them: What other kinds of wall paintings have you looked at? (cave paintings from the Ice Age, Egyptian wall paintings, possibly some early Christian wall paintings in Rome, Diego Rivera's murals in Mexico) Tell them that in the Italian Renaissance the wall paintings were called frescoes. Fresco is the Italian word for "fresh, " and these wall paintings were made directly in the wet, or fresh plaster. The artists used water-based paints and worked very quickly, so that the paint and the plaster dried together and the colors would be bound into the wall. Leonardo's way of working was thoughtful and slow, and his fresco was to cover an entire wall whose dimensions are about 13 feet high and nearly 30 feet wide. (Have someone come up to the widest wall of the classroom and try with a yardstick to show the extent of the wall so the students can see just how enormous this fresco is.) He knew that he would have to change the properties of his paint so that he could make changes and rework things the way artists could with oil paints or other paintings that weren't bound into the drying plaster of the wall. He made a special "ground" or base for his painting that was made of gesso, pitch, and mastic, which he hoped would seal the wall and keep the dampness of the wall from the painting, which he then did in a mixture of tempera and oil.

Leonardo worked for several years on his painting, sometimes from dawn until sundown without stopping to eat or drink anything, then leaving the painting for several days so that he could come back to it with fresh eyes to see whether he needed to rework what he had done. It wasn't until a few years after the painting had been completed, that things began falling apart and the paints began to peel and disintegrate. Experts are still not entirely sure what happened, even through we now have scientific methods of analyzing the chemical properties of paints and of the plaster on the walls. Yet this remains one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Journal Prompt

Tell the students to write five or six sentences beginning with the following words:

I think we should always preserve Leonardo's fresco The Last Supper because...


I don't think Leonardo's fresco The Last Supper needs to be preserved because...

Fifth Grade - Visual Arts - Lesson 8 - Raphael's Madonna and Child Portraits

Contrast Raphael's paintings of Madonna and Child with Medieval art of the same subject.
Compare Raphael's paintings of Madonna and Child with some by Leonardo (optional).
Record on the time line the dates of Raphael's and Leonardo's residence in Florence (optional).
Reference idealized beauty and proportion of Greece (from Grade 2).
Observe the influence of sculpture on Raphael's human figures.
Paint a contemporary mother and child.

Reproductions of any paintings of Madonna and Child by Raphael, see Suggested Books below
Reproductions of Medieval paintings of Virgin and Child, see Suggested Books below
Classroom size world map
Paper, paints, and brushes for each student

Books with Reproductions and Material about Raphael:
Beckett, Sister Wendy. The Story of Painting. New York: Dorling Kindersley in Association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994.

See pp. 124-129 and compare with Madonna and child paintings, pp. 26-56.

Cole, Alison. The Renaissance. London: Dorling Kindersley in association with The National Gallery, London, 1994. See pp. 48-53.

Gillette, Henry S. Raphael: Painter of the Renaissance. New York: Franklin Watts, 1967.

This older book, available at the library, has only black and white illustrations, but is a thoroughgoing biography of Raphael and has excellent material about the nuts and bolts of making frescoes in the period. Good for teacher reference.

Raboff, Ernest. Raphael. New York: Harper Trophy, 1988.

See reproductions and commentary on Tempi Madonna and Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John (unpaged).

Books with Paintings of Madonna and Child from medieval and gothic art:

Howarth, Sarah. What Do We Know About the Middle Ages? New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1995.

See painting of Virgin and Child, p. 8 and stained glass of same, p.29.

Knox, Bob. The Great Art Adventure. New York: Rizzoli, 1993.

See The Virgin and Child with Angels, a ninth-century illumination from Book of Kells (unpaged).

Book to Aid Students in Today's Activity

Aukerman, Ruth. Move Over, Picasso! A Young Painter's Primer. New Windsor, MD: Pat Depke Books published in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994.

This wonderful book has ten sections, based on eleven paintings reproduced here in color. Each section suggests good questions for students based on the particular painting, then guides the students through challenging but definitely realizable projects "in the syle of" the painter whose work is featured. Several color reproductions of student works for each project are included as well. The last project in the book, pp. 40-44 is based on Mary Cassatt's Mother and Child and Modigliani's Gypsy Woman with Baby. The questions and suggestions would be wonderful teacher and student resources for the Activity below.

Background for the Teacher

One of the most surprising things about Raphael's life is that he lived to be only 37 years old and produced so much work. He was born in 1483 and died in 1520. Urbino, where he was born, was one of the few city-states of that period whose ruler was more interested in the arts than in warfare, and it was a peaceful artistic center. Raphael's father was a good painter, especially skilled at creating the frescoes that were so popular at the time and commissioned often for his skill by Guidobaldo, the Duke of Urbino. As Raphael was growing up, he was free to visit the duke's 200-room palace and read the books in its library. Its art collection included works by Leonardo's teacher Verrochio, Piero della Francesca, Bellini, Uccello, and many other Italian Renaissance painters as well as works by Flemish artists.

By the time Raphael was 16, first his mother and more recently his father had died. He left Urbino and became apprentice in Perugia to Perugino, an old friend of his father who had been fellow pupil with Leonardo in Verrechio's studio. Perugino quickly recognized the nature of Raphael's talent and allowed him to work actively on the frescoes commissioned to the master.

In 1504, his apprenticeship completed and several commissions to his credit, Raphael traveled to Florence to take up residence in the city where Brunelleschi's dome towered over the cathedral, and where both middle-aged Leonardo and young Michelangelo were working and competing. During that year, Michelangelo completed his amazing marble statue of David, which was placed prominently for all to see at the plaza fronting the building where the governing council of Florence met. Deeply influenced by the presence of newly conceived architectural masterpieces and the kind of muscular sculpture of Michelangelo, Raphael determined to study both architecture and anatomy. (For the study of anatomy--since there were no books for study--Raphael did numerous dissections of corpses.) From this time on, as Raphael was commissioned to paint his many renditions of Madonna and child, the effects of his study are very apparent. The figures look much more real and sculptural, and the space in the paintings is entirely three-dimensional. (Recall The Marriage of the Virgin from Lesson 2.)


Using any one or two of Raphael's paintings of Madonna and child (especially good for this are the Small Cowper Madonna, Tempi Madonna, Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John [also called La Belle Jardiniere], or the Alba Madonna), have the students observe them closely as you tell them something about Raphael's life. You may wish to have someone indicate the year 1504 on the class timeline to mark a time when both Raphael and Michelangelo were living and working in Florence at the same time.

Have the students help you make a list on the board (or on chart paper) of what they see as the most important or striking things about the Raphael portraits. You can lead them in their responses by asking questions such as a few out of the following:

Do the Madonnas in these paintings look like real mothers?

What are they doing with their hands?

What do you see on their faces and where are they looking?

Do the figures look as though they have muscles and bones underneath their skins? How can you tell?

What about the colors?

Can you see some geometric shapes in the way the figures are arranged? (Often, a large triangle underlies and grounds the composition, as in La Belle Jardiniere and Alba Madonna; circles are everywhere, from faces to relationships between arms and hands touching and leading to the face of the Madonna. Let the students find as many as they can.)

Does Raphael lead our eyes into the painting? How does he do that?

Is there a sense of perspective and three-dimensional space in the painting? How does he achieve that?

What about the texture of the Madonna's clothing? Can you see all the folds and the way the cloth drapes around her body or is it quite stiff?

Next, tell the students that you want them to contrast these Raphael paintings to some Medieval and Gothic paintings of the Virgin and Child. Tell them: Madonna is the Italian word meaning "My Lady," and it refers to the same mother of Jesus pictured in earlier Christian artworks as the Virgin, or the Blessed Virgin. It just happens that, since so many Italian Renaissance painters painted her, they naturally used the name that meant the most to them.

Show the class the reproductions of earlier paintings that you have gathered on the same subject. Depending on the selection, there will be some differences, but as they formulate the contrasting comments for you to record on the board (or for the chart), guide the students (especially in regard to Russian icons or Celtic manuscript illuminations) with questions:

Do the figures look real? Why not? Do they look flat or rounded?

Does it look as though the mother is really holding the child? Does it seem as though the child is really fitting into the mother's lap? Why not?

Does it look as though the mother and child are aware of one another?

Does it look as though there are real muscles and bones under the flesh? Does the flesh look like real human flesh?

Where do you think these two figures are? Can you tell by the background?

In the case of the Gothic paintings and illuminations:

Do you see evidence of vanishing point perspective in the painting?

Can you tell some things about the feelings between the mother and child? Do they look at one another?

Where do you suppose the painter intends the figures to be? (Almost any answer is possible, but one might be that they are in some sacred realm or heavenly place where no real space exists.)

What about the colors? (usually a lot of gilding in Gothic miniatures and the use of blue to symbolize the Virgin)

What about geometric shapes in the design of the painting? (usually repeating patterns of flat designs rather than geometric shapes)

If you have put these contrasted observations on chart paper you may want to label them Italian Renaissance on the one side and Medieval and Gothic on the other and display the chart somewhere in the room. If you wish to designate this on your time line, you could indicate the period from about the ninth century through the fourteenth for the Medieval and Gothic.

If you have access to Leonardo's Virgin and Child with St. Anne and a Lamb or either version of his Madonna of the Rocks, you could point out that they were painted at about the same time as the Raphael paintings of the same subject. Ask: Should we contrast or compare them with the Raphael paintings? (compare) Let the students point out similarities without

formally writing them down, and remind them that for some while Raphael and Leonardo were working in Florence at the same time and were influenced by all the art going on around them, especially by the architecture and sculpture and the ideas of Greek and Roman beauty that the sculpture embodied. You might ask whether they prefer the Raphael paintings or the Leonardo and why.


Pass out paper and paints to the students and tell them their task is to paint a mother and child. (If you have a copy of Move Over Picasso!, this would be the time to share the text and illustrations with the students.) Remind them that painters of the Italian Renaissance dressed their figures in the clothing and hair styles of their own time to make them more real, but say: You have the choice of all these things. The only requirement is that you show something about the relationship of the mother and the child. You might think of a new baby born recently in your home or the home of a friend and how that mother looked with the baby in her lap or feeding her.

It could be a mother and child from your imagination, in the most beautiful setting you can imagine--in a meadow with flowers, in a beautiful house or apartment, or you could place them in front of a favorite building in the city or a park or playground. It could be very playful, with a very wiggly baby filled with movement or very serious and still. The real "problem" you have to solve as the artist is how to show something about the relationship between the mother and child that you and we can see in your painting.

When the paintings are finished, let the students guess the special "feeling" each painter might have had in mind to portray in her or his painting. Have the painters confirm or correct what they hoped to show. From this interaction, have the painters name their paintings, such as "Mother and Child at Play," "Mother Nursing New Baby," "Mother Burping New Baby," whatever seems appropriate. Don't forget to congratulate the painters and display their paintings in the classroom.