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A Sense of Place: France

Featuring stunning film footage in France, these lessons are centered on the landscapes, studios, and living quarters that inspired artists to create some of the National Gallery of Art's most famous paintings. Activities encourage students to fully immerse themselves not only into the settings featured in the films, but, also into their own surroundings.

In the Garden with Monet

Grade Level: 9–12

Students will be introduced to the painting style of the impressionists by analyzing Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge. Two short films—the first of location footage and the second a demonstration of color theory and technique—will aid students in painting their own impressionist “waterscape” of Monet’s water lily garden. Using these observations and instruction, they will then paint an “impression” of a local place special to them.

In the Studio with Cézanne

Grade Level: 9–12

Students will view film footage of Paul Cézanne’s actual studio in Aix-en-Provence and compare objects they see to his drawings and paintings in the National Gallery of Art collection. By selecting and arranging objects of their choice, they will complete their own still-life painting in watercolor washes and colored pencil. Last, they will write an essay either supporting or debating the once-prevailing notion that still lifes are the least creative in the hierarchy of genres.

Channel Coast Postcards

Grade Level: 9–12

Students will be introduced to several works of art created along the Channel coast of northern France along with recent film footage of the area. With these visual tools, students will analyze the impact of tourism throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Then, they will write a postcard where they travel back in time to one of the locales of the Channel coast depicted in the paintings below. Finally, they will use family vacation photos to create an image for a modern-day postcard depicting how leisure time is spent today.

Borrow or download the teaching packet Picturing France

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