Grades/Level: Adult Learners
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, ESL
Time Required: Single Class Lesson
30–45 minutes
Author: Getty Museum Education Staff

For the Classroom

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Tips for Teaching about Narrative Art

Lesson Overview

Students discover how visual artists represent a story by depicting a single moment from it.

Learning Objectives

• Students explain how visual artists and writers represent the same story in different ways.
• Students use narrative art vocabulary to describe an image derived from a story, and to determine which moment from the story is represented.


• One of the two narrative images below
• Looking at Narrative Art Vocabulary
• The Story of Venus and Adonis
• The Story of Pluto and Proserpine

Lesson Steps

• Begin with the following questions:
Why do we tell stories?
How do we learn about stories?
Are they always truthful?

• Before displaying the picture, explain to students that they are going to look at an image that illustrates an ancient Greek myth. Ask students if they can name any myth they may have heard (myths about Hercules are usually the most popular). Review the Narrative Art Vocabulary.

• If you are planning to have the students look at Venus and Adonis, ask them to imagine what the goddess of love and beauty would look like. If you look at the sculpture Pluto Abducting Proserpine, ask students how they would imagine the god of the underworld, ruler of the dead.

• Write down the words they use to describe the goddess or god. You may write today's date, including the year, above the list.

• Explain to students that next they are going to look at how the artist imagined the goddess or god in the year the image was made.

• Before displaying the image, read students the related story (download the stories above). Ask them which moment in the story they would choose to portray in a picture.

• Display the image.

• What moment in the story has this artist chosen to portray?

• What is happening at this moment?

• How does the artist help us understand this moment in the story?

Venus & Adonis / Titian
Venus and Adonis, Titian and workshop, about 1550–1560