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Teacher Resource Pack
Key Stages 3, 4 & 5
Cosimo Rosselli
The Adoration of the Child Jesus,1480s
Look at the painting for 30 seconds!
Q. Who can you see?
Mary is in the centre wearing a red dress and a blue
robe. Baby Jesus lies below on a sheaf of wheat, on
the ground. The men wearing red are the Three Wise
Men or the Three Magi. Their names are Caspar,
Melchior and Balthasar.
Q. What three gifts do the Magi bring?
Q. Who do you think the men in grey habits
Saints (Left to right: St Benedict, St Jerome, St Francis)
God is in the sky pointing down at Christ,
surrounded by angels with red wings- these are called
‘seraphim’ (‘Burning Ones’ in Hebrew)- they are the
most important angels and God’s protectors.
The dove symbolises the holy spirit.
This altarpiece makes references to Jesus' birth and death; his life story in one image. Notice the saint on
the right has wounds in his hands and chest. These wounds resemble the wounds Christ suffered when he
was nailed to the cross. These wounds are called ‘stigmata’.
St Jerome is seen beating his chest with a stone; a symbol of his penitence. Additionally, he is sometimes
shown with a book as he is the Patron Saint of scholars.
The sheaf of wheat that Jesus lies on symbolises the Eucharist (The giving of bread during Mass) and the
Last Supper; Jesus' final meal with disciples before he was crucified.
The flower in the foreground is blue/ purple in colour. Purple is used in relation to Christ as it is a regal
colour. It links to Christ’s name as ‘King of the Jews’.
All the characters are set in a landscape.
Q. What do you see in the background?
Fields, rocks, stone wall, trees and bushes, two men and a dog, a river, a small building, mountains in the
This is the first time in art that we start to see figures being placed into a landscape. Paintings before this had
figures against gold backgrounds.
Q. Who do you think the figure on the right of the painting is and why is he so small?
This is Joseph. He rarely features in Renaissance work as he is not very important in the birth of Christ.
Q. Who do Christians believe is Christ’s father?
This painting was not made to be displayed in an art gallery or museum, it was made for a church in Florence,
Italy. It was an altarpiece.
It would originally have had lots of paintings attached to it. A work of art with lots of parts is called a
Altarpieces were designed to decorate churches, but also to educate the largely illiterate population about
Jesus and Christianity.
Colours and paints
Q. What colours are Mary’s clothes? red dress and blue robe or ‘mantle’. Mary is almost always seen
wearing red and blue.
Renaissance artists did not have paint, like us, that they could buy in tubes or bottles, they had to make their
own paints from natural things; rocks, plants and insects.
Q. Where do you think they found the colour blue? Lapis lazuli.
This was a very expensive stone that originally came from Afghanistan. It was worth the same as gold! Mary was
a very important figure in Catholic art. Blue was used to show her importance. Blue also represents innocence
and virginity.
Artists would grind down the stone into a powder and mix it with water and egg yolk to make paint!
Q. What colours do the Magi wear? red, black, grey
Q. Where do you think they found red colours? Cochineal beetle!
Claude Lorrain
Pastoral Landscape,1645
Look at the painting for 30 seconds!
Landscapes have a:
Foreground ( area closest to us)
Background (area furthest away from us)
Middle ground (are in between the two)
Q. What do you see in the foreground?
3 figures against a large tree, cows, grass, plans,
a tree a little further away.
Q. What are the figures doing? Playing
music. Cows and music often imply calm, placid,
harmonious environments.
Q. What do you see in the middle
A river/ stream, a bridge, a castle on a hill,
surrounded by trees.
Q. Look carefully at the bridge, what can
you see?
3 figures and 3 donkeys carrying loads on their
Task: 1 student to stand alongside the end of the long
table(nearest painting). Group to observe. Student to
then stand half way down the table. Stop and observe.
Student to move to end of the gallery. Stop and
observe. Q. What happened to the student when
he/she moved further away from the group?
Q. What 2 things do artists do to give a
sense of perspective, things being in the
they get smaller and the colours get paler.
Composition and Colour
Joseph Wright of Derby
The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius,
Look at this picture for 30 seconds!
Q. What is the ‘focal point’ of this
painting?(what is your eye drawn to first)
This is a famous volcano in Naples, in Italy called
Mount Vesuvius.
Q. A volcano’s eruption is a natural disaster.
Can you name any other natural disasters?
Floods, hurricanes, tsunamis.
Q. What do you see in the foreground? Rocky
land, a large looming tree that frames the picture, a
lighthouse, a cross on the hill.
Q. What colour is the sea? Red, pink, brown- the sea
reflects the colour of the sky. It is only blue if the sky is
Q. What colours surround the volcano? White,
yellow, pink, red.
Describe the colours in the foreground.
Describe the colours around the volcano.
Q. What colours are in the foreground? Brown,
Q. What time of day is it?
Describe this painting in one word! Dramatic,
gloomy, hot….
Context and Symbols
Q. Why do you think Wright of Derby put the cross in his painting?
a symbol of all of the people that have died as a result of the volcano erupting
e.g. the infamous people of Pompeii who were covered in volcanic ash and perished.
Their bodies can still be seen today.
Q. At this time, what did people believe was the cause of volcanoes?
God’s punishment against man.
The Moon
Moons often feature in Wright of Derby’s work. Wright had many friends who were
part of the Lunar Society in Birmingham during an important time in Britain:
The Industrial Revolution; an age of inventions, factories with bigger faster and more
powerful machines were invented so people flocked to the towns and cities in search of
jobs in these new industries.
The Lunar Society met when the moon was full as the extra light made their journeys
home easier. Street lights hadn’t been invented yet!
Some members of the Lunar Society included:
Mathew Boulton- made hundreds of steam engines to power trains, and made the
machines to make coins!
James Watt- engineer and inventor and the ‘watt’ (unit of power) was named after him.
Josiah Wedgwood- set up major pottery company. Grandfather of Charles Darwin.
Joseph Priestley- is credited as having discovered oxygen!
Erasmus Darwin- A very clever man and a naturalist. He began to research the
evolution of life. His grandson was Charles Darwin. (Erasmus’s son married Wedgwood’s
Colour and Light
Claude Monet
The Church at Varengeville, 1882
Monet was an ‘Impressionist’. He was
fascinated by the effects of light. He would
return to the same spot at different times of
the day to document how the scene had
Painting materials were now portable so
Monet and the Impressionists could paint
outside direct from the landscape!
Painting outside is called ‘en plein air’ (‘in
the open air’)
He would work on up to 7 canvases at the
same time!
Q. What colours can you see in
the painting?
The impressionists used a wide variety
of colours in their paintings.
Q. What are the primary colours?
Q. What are the secondary colours?
Impressionists experimented
with colour and placed
complimentary colours alongside
each other. Complimentary
colours- opposite each other on
the colour wheel. (Red & green,
yellow & purple, blue & orange)
Q. Do you think Monet took a long time to make this painting or do you think
he painted quickly? Quickly. He wanted to capture a fleeting ‘impression’ of what he
saw. He was not interested in painting a detailed study of the landscape. He also used a
palette knife to apply paint.
This is painted very differently to all the other paintings we have looked at.
Q. Is it realistic? Yes, it is a believable scene. We can tell that it is a painting of a tree in
the foreground, a hill with a church on the top, and sea in the distance. But it is not
painted exactly as we see nature.
Q. But does it look like a photograph? Why not?
You can see the brush strokes, some very short and wispy, others longer and more
sweeping. We see thick paint in some areas.