1st and 2nd grade students were introduced to the artist Rembrandt van Rijn through story and images.
Students viewed several of Rembrandt’s self-portraits and learned that he was one of the artists who made self-portraits, or, as we say today, “selfies,” popular.
Students also viewed Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch,” a group portrait of one of Amsterdam’s local militias, painted in 1642, at the height of the Dutch Golden Age. The Night Watch is one of the most famous paintings in the world. The painting is renowned for three characteristics: its size (363 cm × 437 cm (11.91 ft × 14.34 ft)), the effective use of light and shadow , and the perception of motion in what would have traditionally been a static military portrait. The Night Watch is symmetrically divided, firstly to illustrate the union between the Dutch Protestants and the Dutch Catholics, and secondly to evoke the war effort against the Spaniards. For instance, accordingly to Rembrandt’s multilayered design, the taller Captain (in black) symbolizes the Dutch Protestant leadership, loyally supported by the Dutch Catholics (represented by the shorter Lieutenant, in yellow). Moreover, all characters of this painting were conceived to present double readings.
1st and 2nd grade students learned about Rembrandt’s young son Titus who longs to imitate his father and become a great painter. At first Rembrandt rebuffs Titus’s attempts at drawing, telling the boy he is too young to learn art. But, gradually, the master painter is won over by his son’s enthusiasm and persistence, and he begins to teach a very happy Titus the basic techniques of drawing from life.
This was a great story for children, with illustrations that capture the atmosphere of seventeenth-century Holland and suggest some of the genius that radiates from Rembrandt’s own magnificent paintings. Students were introduced to a great artist, viewed his work and learned of his life in this art appreciation lesson.