Art History:   Grade 4 Lesson 1

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  ART AS IT CHANGES - Famous Patrons and Painters



  1. The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1475-6, Sandro Botticelli, Italian (1445-1510), tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence. Reproduction print.

    Botticelli was one of the most important artists of the early Renaissance in Florence. He was probably a pupil of Fra. Filippo Lippi. After completing his apprenticeship, Botticelli became associated with the Medici family, wealthy leaders of the city-state and patrons of the arts. Botticelli cared little for perspective. Sensuous line was his chief mode of work. He felt landscape unimportant.

  2. The Small Cowper Madonna, 1505, Raphael Sanzio (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino), Italian (1483-1520), oil on panel , National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Reproduction print.

    Sanzio was one of the greatest Italian painters of the High Renaissance. Born in Perugia, he studied with his painter father before coming the pupil of Perugino. Around 1505, Raphael was active in Florence painting soft, ender Modonnas similar to the styles of Leonardo Da Vinci and Perugino. In 1508, he went to Rome where he became associated with the active group of writers, designers and artists who were working for the Pope. While in Rome he was also influenced by Michelangelo and the Renaissance ideals.

  3. Pietà,1498-9, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Italian (1475-1564), marble 69" high, St Peter's Basillica, Rome. Reproduction print.

    Born into a respectable Florentine family, Michelangelo spent his first years in Tuscany where he came to know stone quarries and stone cutters. When it was time for him to attend Latin school in Florence, he befriended an artist's apprentice who convinced him to leave his studies and join the studio of Domenico and David de Lommasco di Currado. Michelangelo looked to the frescoes of Giotto and Masaccio rather than his older contemporaries. Lorenzo de Medici then took notice of his first attempts at sculpture and he moved on to a school for sculptors at the Medici palace.

    Besides the Medici family, another major patron was the church and Pope Julius II in Rome. His first preference was sculpture, but he was also a painter, an architecture, an engineer and a poet. His greatest painting, the decoration of the Sistine Chapel was painted single-handed between 1508 and 1512. Lying on scaffolding 68 feet above the marble floor, he painted the ceiling of this room made for defense as well as worship.

  4. Self-portrait, 1498, Albrecht Dürer, German (1471-1528),  oil on wood, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Reproduction print.

    Albert Dürer was one of the greatest German artists of the Renaissance. He was born in Nuremberg and studied art with his father, a goldsmith, and with Michael Wohlgemut, a local painter and preintmaker. In 1491 he journeyed to Italy and came under the influence of Mantegna and Jocopi de'Barbari. In 1495, he returned to Nuremberg and began an extremely productive career which included painting, woodcuts and copper engravings. More than any German artist, Dürer adopted the Renaissance ideas of humanism. He sought to become not only an artist but a gentleman and scholar; he made scientific studies of perspective and wrote treatiseson proportion and theory. Dürer was most influential as a printmaker; his very numerous engravings and woodcuts are createdwith a tremendous degree of dexterity, viality and originality.

    See also : Albrecht Dürer


  6. The Artist's Family, c.1528, Hans Holbein the younger, Bavarian (1497-1543), oil and tempura on paper mounted on wood, Museum of Art, Basel. Reproduction print.


  7. Portrait of Erasmus, 1523, Hans Holbein the younger, Bavarian (1497-1543), oil and tempura on wood, National Gallery, London. Reproduction print.


    See also : Hans Holbein

    See also : Erasmus of Rotterdam
  8. Sir Thomas More, 1527, Hans Holbein the younger, Bavarian (1497-1543), oil on wood, The Frick Collection, New York. Reproduction print.

    Hans Holbein (The Younger) was born in Augsburg and studied with his able artist father, Hans Holbein (The Elder). Still a young boy, he continued his studies and painting in Basel, then an active center of Humanism. There he met and became a life-long friend of Erasmus, the famous philosopher, whose portrait Holbein painted, thus gaining recognition and an introduction to Sir Thomas More. In London he painted many portraits; among the famous are those of Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More's family. Holbein painted with great technical ability in a realistic style. The penetrating intensity of his subjects' expressions rightfully earned him recognition as the North's most outstanding realistic portrait painter. In Germany, Hans Holbein was famous for his portraits, and these are among the finest ever painted. By now the artists of the North and learned all that Italy had to offer, and Holbein's portraits were perfect likenesses of his subjects; if a subject's character was reflected in his face, then Holbein reproduced that character exactly in his portrait. But if he had learned the mastery of the human body from the Italians, he had learned how to portray perfectly the surfaces of things - the texture of skin and cloth and fur from the Van Eycks.

    Holbein settled originally in Switzerland, but later moved to England where he became a court painter to Henry VIII. Thanks to Holbein we know all the great men and women of Henry's reign in every detail and without one line of flattery. In fact, it is said that Henry agreed to marry one of his wives on the strength of Holbein's portrait of her.

  9. Lorenzo de Medici, , Andrea del Verrocchio, Italian (1433-1488), sculpture, National Gallery, Washington DC. Reproduction print.

    The people of the Renaissance were fond of portraits, such as this bust, or shoulder-length portrait of Lorenzo de Medici, said to be the work of the sculptor Verrocchio. No history of the Renaissance in Italy would be complete without mention of the Medici, the greatest family of the time. They were the true rulers of the city of Florence for 300 years beginning in 1434, although for much of that time they had no official title. Many people feel that the greatest member of this family was Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), the subject of this sculpture. He was so called because he was a great patron of the arts, who filled his palaces with masterpiece after masterpiece, and kept a brilliant court for his generosity and for his founding of many schools and universities. It is said that his dying words were that he regretted that he could not complete the libraries of his friends. Lorenzo was also a shrewd and stern ruler, and we may sense this when we look at Verocchio's very real and unlattering portrait. He is truly a proud man of the Renaissance.

    Verrocchio was as famous a painter as he was a sculptor, and in his workshop there studied, perhaps, the greateatest painter of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. (Grade 4 Lesson 8)

  10. Adoration of the Maji, c.1445 , Fra. Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi, Italian (1433-1488), circular (tondo) tempura on wood, National Gallery, Washington DC. Reproduction print.

    Depicts the Epiphany, which symbolizes recognition of Christ by the pagan world. Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th - 'twelfth night', the last of the twelve days of Christmas.

  11. Carrara Marble  

    From North Central Italy's Carrera quarries, the site of white marble favored by Michelangelo.

  12. Portrait of Edward VI as a Child,c.1538, Hans Holbein the younger, Bavarian (1497-1543), oil and tempura on oak, National Gallery, Washington DC. Reproduction print.

Find the toy in the painting. What do you think it is made of? This is King Henry VIII's son. What else tells you he is the son of a King? Holbein could paint surface textures perfectly. He probably painted Edward just as he appeared, with no flattery.

The inscription in Latin at the bottom of the painting does flatter the king, however: "Little one, emulate thy father. Be heir to the virtue of him whose equal the world does not possess. Heaven do but match in full thy parent's deeds, and men could ask no more.  Shouldst thou surpass him, thou hast outstript all kings the world revered in ages past."

Edward VI reigned from age 9 to his death at age 16, in 1553. His older half-sister Mary assumed the throne followed by his other half-sister in 1558 - Queen Elizabeth I.



This year the 4th grade will study the art of Western Europe and examine how it has evolved into the art of today. Over the year as they examine the development of painting, the children will discuss the reasons for those changes. Historical events, scientific discoveries, and social upheavals all influence man's ideas about himself and his world. So too, are artists affected nd give further inspiration to other artists and our everyday culture.

The art of today has a direct link to the art of Renaissance Europe. This lesson compares the exciting time of the Renaissance with its surge of discoveries and wealth of new knowledge with our modern space age of computers. Columbus' voyage to America in 1492 and the landings on the moon could act as the two concrete events of the times in which these works of art were made.

Artists have always tried to capture something of the great mysteries of life. Some of the words we use to describe what these artists are trying to describe are: God, truth, beauty, harmony, peace, etc. Artists have always been asked by their patrons to paint or sculpt portraits. Have artists always made exact likenesses? Portraits were once painted to remember a person at that particular point in their life. Now that we have cameras, why would a portrait be painted?


The Renaissance was an intellectual awakening which brought change to all learning. The first three lessons of the fourth grade cover this period from the 14th to the 17th century. As the artists are discussed , and their paintings shown, keep in mind some of these characteristics of the Renaissance:


Man and his everyday world took precedence over the Spiritual (even in the Church). We refer to this as Humanism. Note the interest in the antiquities of the Greco-Roman world.
b. Artists were trying to imitate and to understand nature. They studied anatomy, and emotional expression as well as botany and mathematics.
Versatility in performance and breadth of interests were the chief aim of education. The artist must master geometry, optics and perspective as well as be a master of various art media.
d. The discovery of movable type made books more readily available and aided the spread of knowledge.
e. Women enjoyed a higher place in society.
f. The scientific discoveries and world exploration brought a questioning of church authority with its increasing concern in worldly affairs and political power. The Reformation began in the North.
g. The importance of the individual was asserted in all areas, even in the interpretation of the Word of God.
h. The merchant and artisan classes rose to challenge the position of the landed nobility.

The 20th Century:

The 20th Century brought wars, revolutions, political upheavals, and changing social conscience. Our shrinking world with its airplanes and telecommunications has to deal with expanding knowledge through computers and specialization. This has caused a fragmented vision of the world and a questioning of traditional ideals and beliefs. Unable to keep up with the rapid changes, man is searching for meaning and questioning the real and the ideal. This turmoil is both prophesied and reflected in the arts.




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