Subject: Picture Talk • Group: Art • Class II • Time: 20 minutes
By G. J. Haslam
The Parents’ Review, 1906, pp. 140-141
I. To help the children to appreciate Rembrandt and his works.
II. To increase their power of observation.
III. To show Rembrandt’s chief characteristic as an artist. (Wonderful arrangement of light and shade.)
Step I.—Ask the children to narrate what they know of Rembrandt’s life. Supplement by further details. Rembrandt was born at Leyden, in Holland, in 1606. (Use map.) His father was a miller. Rembrandt was sent to the University of Leyden when he was fourteen, for one year. Then for three years he was apprenticed to Jacob van Swanenborch. In the following year he entered Pieter Lastman’s studio, where he remained six months. After this he returned home to “study and practise painting alone, and in his own way.” His chief models were the members of his own family and himself. In 1634, he married Saskia. Rembrandt was a poor man, and led rather a sorrowful life. He was much too liberal for his means, and consequently towards the end of his life he became bankrupt. He died 1669.
Step II.—Give each child a reproduction of “The Syndics of the Drapers.” Let them study picture well, then remove.
Step III.—Draw a detailed description of picture from the children. Amplify, with questions as far as possible. This picture represents a company of men (drapers) who have come together to discuss the affairs of their trade. Mention the Clothworker’s Company of to-day. Notice and account for different expressions on the men’s faces. Notice the man with no hat in the background. He is a servant.
Step IV.—Return pictures to children. Ask them what they take to be the chief characteristic of the work (as regards the tones of the painting). The light on the faces, collars and book contrasting with the somewhat dark tones of the rest of the picture. This is so beautifully balanced that not a little piece of light could be taken away without spoiling the whole effect. Help the childrentoappreciate this quality and ask them if they have noticed this fact in other Rembrandts they have taken.
Step V.—Let the children draw from memory the leading lines of the picture.