Art History: Grade 1 Lesson 7
CHILDREN IN ART - Children at Play
- Children's Games, oil-on-panel
1560, Pieter Breughal the
Flemish (1525-1569), Kunsthistorishces Museum, Vienna, Austria, reproduction print.
- Children's Games, detail, reproduction print.
- Children's Games, detail, reproduction print.
|Pieter Breughel was one of the great painters from the Netherlands. His paintings celebrate the simple country life. Perhaps he was inspired by the ideas of the Renaissance on a trip to Italy in 1551. Notice the perspective in "Children's Games".
This was painted over 400 years ago. You can see that the children are dressed differently and that their houses and streets are different. There are lots of games and activities shown. Most of them look like a lot of fun even today. Some of the games and toys we can't identify. This village scene looks a lot like reccess at school!
A few ideas from the picture are:
d. horse on a stick
f. building blocks
g. jungle gym
i. piggy back
follow the leader
p. riding a barrel
s. climbing a tree
t. king of
250 children are following 75 pursuits independent of
adults. There are no instructors, umpires or spectators. The
games are played for pleasure, not renown, and yet there are
some contests of skill or strength. Most of the games follow
set rules.Some, such as Tug-of-war, Blindman's-buff and
Hide-and-seek were played more than 2000 years ago in
Greece. Buck-Buck is a game from Roman times. The stooping
player must guess which hand is held up and how many fingers
by the player on his back.
Notice that there are no
circle games or ball bouncing or rope-skipping.
- by William Carlos
|This is a schoolyard
of all ages near a
on a small stream
where some boys
or climbing a tree in leaf
elder women are looking
a play wedding a
nearby one leans
- Recreation, -, Mai-Thu, Vietnamese (1906-1980),
gouache on silk, private collection, reproduction print.
|Recreation is a refreshment of one's mind or body after
labor through diverting activity - play.
Name all the means
of recreation you recognize:
1. kite flying
2. circle games or conversation
3. board games or puzzles
5. wrestling - Judo
6. ball games
Find the thoughtful children. Find the active
children. In the East, passive recreation is as valued as active
sport. Is this reflected in the painting? Find some other
(besides pensive children) elements of calmness in this
painting. Same soft, rolling background, repeating haircuts,
similar faces, many of the same pants and shirts. Find the
elements of action besides the active games. Bright warm colors
scattered over the painting. Perhaps the artist wanted to tell
us about the beauty of a child's body in its many positions
while playing games or sitting or standing thoughtfully. Do you
think he cared to give us a portrait of each child? Compare with
Breughel's painting. Notice the lack of shadows - a typical
oriental technique, and the same grouping of children.
Notice the stamp as well as Mai Thu's signature.
- Two toys, wooden reproductions.
- Snap the Whip, 1872, Winslow Homer,
American, (1836-1910), The Butler Institute, Youngstown, Ohio,
| Winslow Homer was born in Boston in
1836 and grew up in nearby Cambridge. After a brief period
at Bufford's Lithography Shop in Boston, he moved to New
York and was hired by Harper's Weekly for which
he would produce designs until 1875. He covered the Civil
War for Harper's, making several trips to the
front. On his return to New York after the war, he
concentrated on oil painting. he was elected National
Academician in 1865. From 1866 to 1867 he traveled abroad.
On his return, Homer settled in New York. He spent his
summers producing idyllic images of Americans at leisure.
In 1873 Homer's first watercolor series was done at
Gloucester, Massachusetts. He traveled to England in 1881
to paint near Tynemouth, a fishing port on the North Sea.
His first works produced were narrative subjects which
would concern him for the rest of his life; man's struggle
with his environment. He settled permanently at Prout's
Neck, Maine. he ofter traveled with a fishing fleet to
Nassau, Bermuda and the Bahamas. In 1908 he suffered a
paralytic stroke and died to years later at Prout's Neck.
1. Can you guess what these children are
2. Who is playing the game? What are the
3. Have you ever played snap the
whip? Can you describe the game?
4. What time of
year is it? Where is it?
5. Can you guess what
the building in the background is?
6. How are the
boys dressed? How do you dress differently?
What is the school house made of? What is your school
- Bathing Place at Asnieres, 1883, Georges Seurat, French (1859-1891),
National Gallery, London, reproduction print.
| George Seurat was a founder of
Neo-Impressionism, born in Paris. He developed a method of
systematic painting and sought to fill his paintings with
color and light, but with scientifically based techniques.
There is a strong formal order to his subjects.
Pointillism - dots of color juxtaposed on the canvas which
appear to the spectator to blend when viewed from a
distance instead of being blended on the palette.
Seurat repeated simplified shapes over and over, but with
variety. he only produced seven large paintings.
How does this compare to our beaches?
2. How are
the children dressed? and the adults?
Are the water games the same or different?
What shapes can be found?
is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "to engage in sport or
recreation or to move aimlessly about or to deal or behave frivilously or
This year we have looked at lots of different children throughout the world and throughout the ages. Artists have depicted them in many ways and for many different reasons.
Playing is as much fun today as it was many years ago. You play much in the same way that children in other places play. We are going to look at some pictures of children at play. We are going to find out what they are playing with and see if you have ever played with something similar. Then we are going to look at some toys that your parents or grandparents might have played with and compare them with toys you have today.
There are a lot of companies today that make educational toys. They are made especially to help children grow and to develop. Many of the things children played with years ago helped them to learn the same skills of size, shape, numbers, balance etc. See if you can name some of the skills needed for each game or toy.
Our view of children has changed over the centuries. Before the 19th century, "child" expressed kinship, not an age state. Children were viewed as small scale adults and dressed accordingly. Most children were unaware of their own precise age. Only infants, which extended up to age seven, were clothed differently to adults. There was no sex differentiation and infants' activities included dolls, hobbyhorses and toys. All children of that general age were grouped as infants.
Children from age seven to adult were considered "little people" who shared games, beds, chores and dress with their elders. They knew gambling and drinking at an early age. "Children's" games such as Hide and Seek were all played with adults, adolescents and children.
From 1600 on the child became increasingly an object of respect and a special creature with a different nature and different needs. Their "innocence" called for protection from the adult world. The upper classes had established a separate innocent childhood by 1800 and it slowly spread to all children.