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5th Grade Art Appreciation: 19th Century European Art

Art History for 5th Grade - 19th Century European Art •

Hooray for 19th Century European Art! Here is my next presentation in my Art History for kids series, and this one is for the 5th graders (or anyone you’d like to show it to, really.)

Background Information (for the presenter):

The modern world as we know it today started in the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution  brought with it many changes – city life rather than country life; machine power rather than muscle power; factories rather than farms.

In art, taste for scenes of peasant life and far away places was part of a desire by many in the 19th century to escape their humdrum city lives. This movement was called “Romanticism”. People were fascinated by North Africa and the Far East, which for the first time, were open to the visits of adventurous travelers, as well as to ambitious colonists.


Ingres, Marquis de PastoretIngres, Marquis de Pastoret, 1826, Art Institute of Chicago

Questions to Ask the Kids:

  • Marquis: French, the title of a nobleman next in rank below a duke.
  • What do you think of this man named Marquis de Pastoret?
  • Do you think he looks important? Why?
  • What can we tell about him by looking at this painting?
  • If you were to pose like he did, how do you think you would feel?
  • Does it look comfortable? Why or why not?
  • What kind of place is the Marquis in?
  • Is there any movement?
  • Where has Ingres (Ang) put us, the viewer? (We are slightly below eye level, emphasizing his height and importance.)
  • This was painted before the camera was invented. How long would it take to finish this portrait?
  • Where is the light coming from? (look at the shadows)
  • Do you think it is daylight or artificial light?
  • Was the painter a very careful artist? How can you tell?

Background Information (for the presenter):

Ingres’ livelihood came from his portraits and today that is what he is famous for. He was a master of line. In his paintings the outline of everything is clearly defined without actually putting a dark line around it. Ingres was more concerned about line and form than color and light. Every detail was important. Along with being capable of portraying his subject with physical accuracy, Ingres was very gifted in portraying with great strength, the personality of the sitters.

Ingres was a popular and accepted artist of his day. The majority of people thought his work and style of painting was what “good” art should be.

Young Woman- Millet

Young Woman, Millet, 1845, AIC

Questions to Ask the Kids:

  • Does this woman look like she posed for this painting?
  • What does her clothing tell us about her?
  • What clues do we see that tell us what this painting is about?
  • What might have happened just before this scene?
  • What might happen next?
  • What is the light source? Is the light coming from the left or the right? How can you tell?
  • What kind of weather is it?
  • Did this artist work as carefully as Ingres?
  • Is the paint applied as carefully here as in Ingres’ painting of the Marquis?

Background Information (for the presenter):

Millet’s subject matter, unlike Ingres, usually concentrated on scenes from country life, emphasizing the hard work and toll of being a peasant farmer. In the 19th century, many dramatic changes were taking place in society. The steam engine was invented and machines were produced to do the work man once did with human muscle. More and more people left the country to live and work in cities and the newly developed industries. Cities became over-crowded and city dwellers were losing their contact with nature.

The art of the mid 19th century is marked by a movement toward more natural and real, tangible things. People wanted to be reminded of the “simpler” country life and sought art showing this to decorate their homes. Millet was one of the leading artists in this movement.


Interrupted Reading, Corot, 1870, AIC

Questions to Ask the Kids:

  • What is the first thing that you notice in this painting by Corot?
  • What is happening? What does she have in her hand?
  • What is the mood of this painting?
  • Do you think this woman is posing or has Corot captured her at a moment in time?
  • What kind of expression does this woman have?
  • Is there any movement?
  • How is this woman dressed? Casual or fancy?

Background Information (for the presenter):

When Camille Corot painted Interrupted Reading he was nearing the end of a long career devoted to landscape painting. Corot was a painter who painted his landscapes “on the spot”. He would work on small canvases and capture the quality of a particular place at a particular time in an hour or two. Corot was inspired to capture the “truth of the moment”. He did this by careful observation, by the readiness to paint whatever inspired, and by direct visual experience. So what does all this landscape stuff have to do with the painting we see here? It shows Corot’s commitment to painting from life. The camera had just been invented and it had an influence on artists and how they looked at the world around them. During the winter when outdoor painting  was made more difficult, and toward the end of Corot’s life, (he lived to the age of 79), Corot turned toward figure studies.

The Giaour, Eugene Delacroix

The Giaour, Eugene Delacroix, 1826, AIC

Questions to Ask the Kids:

  • What is the first thing that catches your eye in this painting?
  • What is going on here?
  • Do you see movement in this painting?
  • How has the artist emphasized the movement?
  • How does the background add to the drama of the scene?
  • What do you think this painting sounds like?
  • Can you tell what part of the world this is?

Background Information (for the presenter):

Delacroix was a native of France but like many people of his day was fascinated by stories of faraway places, exotic, strangely different from his own world. This painting is one of 6 known versions Delacroix painted based on a poem by a writer of his day, Lord Byron. In this painting, Delacroix shows us the dramatic climax of the story of an Italian known as the Giaour (Turkish word for a Christian) who seeks to avenge his wife’s death at the hands of a Turk named Hassan, from whose harem she had fled. This poem is filled with love and adventure in an exotic land. Delacroix has emphasized movement in this painting by showing us violent gestures, kicked-up dust, billowing robes, rearing horses, stormy clouds, fighting men.

Ingres and Delacroix were artistic rivals (they lived and worked at the same time) with very different philosophies and methods of painting. Ingres – orderliness, precise detail, emphasis on line and form, unexciting colors, control. Delacroix – vibrant colors, forms in motion, dramatic subject matter, loose brushstrokes, outdoor scenes.

Lion Hunt, Delacroix, 1861

Lion Hunt, Delacroix, 1861, AIC

Questions to Ask the Kids:

  • What’s the first thing that catches your eye in this painting?
  • How does your eye move around this painting?
  • Do you see movement or action in this painting?
  • How does the background add to the drama of the scene?

Background Information (for the presenter):

Delacroix worked as an artist/reporter (before the invention of the camera) in North Africa where he actually saw lion hunts such as this. Again it was through Delacroix’s quick sketches in the field that he was able to compose a painting such as this. The people of France in the mid-19th century had little exposure to wild animals from other countries in their natural setting (lions could be seen in the zoos). This was an exciting painting for them to see and really jogged their imaginations. Today we have photography, television, magazines to tell us about the faraway places and people.

Here’s your Powerpoint: 19th Century European Art

Here are the rest of the Art History for Kids presentations. I will update them weekly, so check back every Friday!

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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