Grades/Level: Middle School (6–8)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: 3–5–Part Lesson
One to three class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Stories in Art Contents


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Lesson Overview

Students focus on the Roman mythological story of the abduction of Europa. They compare and contrast how two artists depicted this story. Students are then introduced to the elements of foreshadowing and climax in literature, and how, through the use of color and emphasis, artists use these same elements in painting. Students write responses to the two paintings based on their observations related to foreshadowing and climax. Finally, they read an excerpt from the myth and discuss which part of the story each artist chose to illustrate.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• observe paintings by two different artists that focus on the mythological story of the abduction of Europa.
• compare and contrast how the artists depicted the story.
• examine how the literary elements of foreshadowing and climax are used visually in the two paintings.
• write responses to the two paintings based on their observations.
• examine the literary elements in an excerpt from Ovid's Metamorphoses about the abduction of Europa.
• analyze which part of the story each artist illustrated.

Materials

• Reproduction of Coast View with the Abduction of Europa by Claude Lorrain
• Reproduction of The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about Coast View with the Abduction of Europa
• Background Information and Questions for Teaching about The Abduction of Europa
• Student Handout: "Abducting Europa: Compare and Contrast"
• Pens and/or pencils
• Student Handout: "Abducting Europa: Literary and Artistic Devices"
• Paper (8½" x 11"; lined)

Lesson Steps

1. Show students the reproduction of Coast View with the Abduction of Europa by Claude Lorrain.

2. Have a class discussion, prompting students with the questions from the Background Information and Questions for Teaching about Coast View with the Abduction of Europa.

3. Next, show students the reproduction of The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn.

4. Have a class discussion, prompting students with the questions from the Background Information and Questions for Teaching about The Abduction of Europa.

5. Tell students that for an activity, they will compare and contrast how the two artists depicted the story of the abduction of Europa.

6. Pass out the handout "Abducting Europa: Compare and Contrast" as well as pens and/or pencils. Guide students to follow the instructions on the handout.

7. Next, discuss with students the elements of foreshadowing and climax in literature, and how, through the use of color and emphasis, artists use these same elements visually in paintings.

8. Tell students that, for their next activity, they will write responses to the two paintings based on their observations related to foreshadowing and climax. Then they will read an excerpt about the myth of the abduction of Europa and discuss which part of the story each artist (Lorrain and Rembrandt) chose to illustrate.

9. Pass out the handout "Abducting Europa: Literary and Artistic Devices" and paper. Guide students to follow the instructions on the handout.

Coast View/Lorrain
Coast View with the Abduction of Europa, Claude Lorrain, about 1645

Assessment

Students will be assessed on their
• comparisons of how the two artists depicted the story.
• written responses to the two paintings based on their observations about how the literary elements of foreshadowing and climax are used visually in the two paintings.

Extensions

Have students discuss this question posed in the "Abducting Europa: Literary and Artistic Devices" student handout: "Was one artist more faithful to Ovid's story?" Depending on their opinions, students may take sides in a lively debate.