Sunday, 15 March 2009

Accidentally wonderful

We were finishing up our art history book on Friday, before starting on music theory after our half-term break this week. We've been using Discovering Paintings - Myths and Legends, which we bought at the National Gallery in London. It's a little young for the boys, but we've enjoyed the link between well-loved myths and art.

The last painting in the book is Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus (short digression to talk about the word 'deride' and link it to 'rire' in French) by Turner. Whilst we were at the National Gallery, Calvin chose a print of Turner's Fighting Temeraire to hang in his bedroom. I sent him to take it down and we sat with the book illustration of the one painting and the framed print of the other.

Then I realised: the layout of the two paintings is identical. Detail by detail, we went over the composition: the similarities were so great that it became easy to discuss the divergent moods of the paintings, evoked by the specific differences. I hadn't planned the lesson - our art history is a somewhat casual Friday session - but it fell into my lap and left us all excited.

I've been looking into the curriculum for the International Baccalaureate, on the assumption that the boys will go to school at some point before university. One of the subject options is art history. I wish that had been available to me at school: I had little interest and no obvious talent for making art, but I would have enjoyed studying the art of others.

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