The most domesticated of the animal species at the time of the Renaissance, dogs became the obvious subjects of the Renaissance artists, whose practice included sketching their natural surroundings. Check out this pastel lesson plan that incorporates themes of historic Renaissance art with a focus on the dogs that so often made an appearance in paintings.
History of Dogs in Renaissance Art
At first our four-legged friends were included as scenery in artistic depictions of hunting outings, religious events, and mythological stories. As the Renaissance progressed, dogs were included in various commissioned art pieces as status symbols. Owning an expensive hunting dog was a true sign of wealth and, in fact, many beloved hunting dogs sported hand-crafted collars of gold or silver. (It’s noteworthy that working dogs rarely appear in Renaissance art.)
Later still, dogs began to appear as accessories in family or individual portraits, with larger dogs like mastiffs or greyhounds often accompanying studies of men and smaller, lap dogs depicted with women. Finally, individual dogs became worthy of artistic depiction because of their place as beloved members of the family, and were painted alone and displayed in the ornate frames of the time.
Pastel Art Project: Dogs of the Renaissance
This lesson focuses on three properties of Renaissance artwork: the use and possible symbolism of dogs, the color palette used at the time, and the ornate wood, sometimes gilded, frames that surrounded their work. Students will begin by researching Renaissance artwork and framing styles and then create their own dog study in pastel, framing the finished work with a gilded clay frame patterned after the period, creating a true tribute to a cherished pet.
For Grades 7-12.
More Pastel Art Lesson Plans
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