Old Masters Rock: How to Look at Art with Children

Old Masters Rock: How to Look at Art with Children
Maria-Christina Sayn-Wittgenstein Nottebohm
Pimpernel Press
There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to looking at art. We all respond differently to paintings: our response depends on what we bring to a work of art; it’s not fixed and likely to change as we change.
Curiosity, the author tells us is the starting point; and everyone –child or adult has that. Whether or not one is able to visit galleries and museums in person, doesn’t stop anyone from experiencing and enjoying works of art through books or via the internet. An important point to remember, says the author, is not to try and see too much in a single visit. She suggests that choosing several focuses of attention will prove much more satisfying than dashing round endeavouring to see every single exhibit. That way lies frustration and, or, boredom. In fact the whole introduction is full of wise and helpful suggestions for any adult contemplating an art gallery visit with one or more children.
‘Puppa’ then goes on to introduce a variety of Old Masters, grouped together thematically. So we have Animals, the Natural World, Families, At Home, Fabulous Faces, Action and Heroes,

Science and Technology to name just some of the thirteen sections.

The Railway, 1873 (Édouard Manet) Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

In total there are some fifty paintings of a variety of styles from Early Renaissance to Impressionist; some of the works are from famous artists such as Constable, Degas and Leonardo da Vinci; others will be less familiar ( a few were new to me) but equally worthy of attention.
Each painting is given a whole page illustration opposite which is a page containing factual information about the artist, the background to the work, and pointers, including questions, to focus on when viewing the particular picture. The whole emphasis is on opening up, rather than closing down on, an individual’s response and there is plenty to satisfy those who enjoy stories.
In short, it’s an excellent resource for families or for primary school teachers.

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