Grades/Level: High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: Long–Term Unit
Six or more class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

For the Classroom

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General Discussion Questions

Lesson Overview

Students will examine artworks, research literature, and create study drawings and a 3-D model for a monument to a literary figure.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• discuss and analyze the sculpture Model for a Monument to Alexandre Dumas père by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.
• compare Model for a Monument to Alexandre Dumas père to monuments with which they are familiar.
• create studies in 2-D and 3-D for a monument to a literary figure of their choice.
• research, and read about, the life and works of the literary figure they choose.
• articulate in writing the processes they went through to create their monument.


• Reproduction of Model for a Monument to Alexandre Dumas père by Carrier-Belleuse
• Drawing paper
• Drawing pencils
• Air-drying sculpting clay
• Modeling tools
• Literary novels and short stories

Lesson Steps

(Collaboration between the visual arts teacher and language arts teacher would work well for this lesson. The lesson could be taught without the sculpture component.)

1. View the image and follow the Questions for Teaching for Model for a Monument to Alexandre Dumas père. Both are found in the Image Bank, or by clicking on the thumbnail of the image above.

2. Discuss what makes a good memorial sculpture or monument. What would you need to know about an author to create a monument that communicates who the person was and what their writing is like? Although a friend of Dumas's, Carrier-Belleuse created this monument study after the author's death. Discuss what sources the artist probably used to create the monument to Dumas. (To compare Carrier-Belleuse's portrait of Dumas to how the author actually looked, look at the photograph of Dumas by the French photographer Nadar.)

3. Students will then choose an author to create their own monuments to (the list could come from authors you have chosen for your students to read). Have students research the author's life, read a novel or short story, and look up other likenesses of the author, in order to understand who they were and what would be the best way to represent them.

4. While they are beginning their research and formulating ideas, have students think about the following questions: What attributes or props would you include so that people will easily recognize the author and his or her profession? How important is an accurate likeness to the monument? What will be the setting for their monument?

5. Students will look at works by other artists as well as photographs and sculptures in order to capture a likeness of the person to whom their monument is dedicated.

6. Students will create at least three drawings for their proposed monument. This will also include what the setting for their proposed monument will be.

7. Students will use air-drying sculpting clay to create a 3-D version of their monument.

8. Students will write a description of the process they went through to develop their monument.

9. Discuss the following questions with the finished projects in a class critique: What were the challenges and successes of working in 3-D? What were the challenges and successes of working in clay? How successful were the students in conveying something about the author and his or her work in the sculpture? How did the sculpture project change from the study drawings to the finished work?

Alexandre Dumas / Carrier-Belleuse
Model for a Monument to Alexandre Dumas père, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, about 1883


Students will be assessed on their ability to complete the assignment, their three drawing studies for their monument, clarity of the subject of their monument, and their written assignment outlining their process and research.

Standards Addressed

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
Grades 9–12

2.1 Create original works of art of increasing complexity and skill in a variety of media that reflect their feelings and points of view.
2.5 Use innovative visual metaphors in creating works of art.
4.1 Describe the relationship involving the art maker (artist), the making (process), the artwork (product), and the viewer.

English—Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
Grades 9–10

2.4 Synthesize the content from several sources or works by a single author dealing with a single issue; paraphrase the ideas and connect them to other sources and related topics to demonstrate comprehension.
3.12 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical period. (Historical approach

History—Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools
Grade 10

Describe the emergence of romanticism in art and literature.

Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
Grades 9–12

Students perceive and respond to works of art...use the vocabulary of the visual arts to express their observations. Analyze composition.