Resources for Rembrandt

So, we studied Rembrandt this past week at my Classical Conversations group, and I thought you might like to see and/or use some of the resources I made for my class to illustrate the lesson.

As much as I love how CC is set up, and the “Discovering Great Artists” book by MaryAnn Kohl and Kim Solga is a fantastic resource, it is hard to get kids excited about Rembrandt when all you have to show of his works in the book is one small black and white photo of “The Nightwatch” .  (Ah, the limitations of publishing books!)  So I created some extra things to help showcase more of Rembrandt’s work and get my students more interested in what we were doing.  (Thankfully, Rembrandt’s works are sprinkled liberally through some of CC’s things…see below, and I make a timeline of some of his works)

Rembrandt is interesting for a number of reasons: he’s acknowledged as one of the “Great Artists”, yet, before his death, was considered old-fashioned and out of style. He wouldn’t be “rediscovered” until the Romantic Period of Art.   He’s well known for his expressive portraits and high-contrast lighting in his images.  He had a colorful professional life…all this and more I got to learn…and sadly, not everything is finished yet.  But class came, and to be honest, as much as I love working with the story and history of an artist, the art portion of my classes are meant for drawing, so I have to be careful that I don’t do a history lesson instead of an art lesson.

At home is another story, however!

There are a couple more components that are under construction, but those will have to wait, especially since I’m working on the Science and Art installation for this week (AKA: Carl Linneaus), and we’re fixing the house up to put it on the market now that Christmas is past.

So here’s some of my Rembrandt materials to help you, if you’re interested in incorporating techniques for Rembrandt into your skill set or teaching others.  And if you’re a homeschooling mom, or a person looking to learn more about art, I hope you’ll find these helpful and interesting.

First of all, if you ARE a CC Tutor or Parent, and you own the Timeline cards, and/or, if you have the Famous Scientists or Artists and Composer cards, this pdf document below (click on the Rembrandt’s Timeline link) shows you where, among those cards, you can find the events of Rembrandt’s life, the now-famous people who were born or died during his lifetime, as well as the cards which feature either Rembrandt’s work, or the work of other Baroque-period artists (Including one of Rembrandt’s own students).

Rembrandt Timeline


Quote Boards:

For those who saw my drawing lesson plans earlier this fall, you already know I love to show and read these quotes to my students, to help them connect with the real people these artists were.  These are two I liked of Rembrandt, which could be posted, or if you do copywork, you can use for that (for younger, or just beginning kids, I have copywork tracing at the end.)

One of the best things about doing these little research projects, is I get to “meet” people who we now view as giants among talented men,  but during their own lifetimes, they were just people with their own little foibles and strangeness, and snark.  This painting, in particular, had a funny story behind it:   Rembrandt lived long enough to see his work become “old fashioned”, and his critics started to say Rembrandt was once a good painter, but had never been a good draftsman (a person who draws well). The circles in the background are believed to be a reference to the Italian artist Giotto (1266-1337).  Giotto, along with many other artists of his time, was asked to submit drawings to the Pope to demonstrate their skills for a submission. When the Pope’s messenger got to Giotto and requested his submission, Giotto drew a perfect circle, freehand, in red chalk, and sent that. The messenger thought Giotto was a fool, or disrespectful of the Pope, until the messenger returned to Rome with all the submissions.  Giotto’s simple circle stuck out from the pile of intricately detailed drawings, and the Pope asked if Giotto had used a compass or instrument to get the circle so perfect.  When the messenger replied that Giotto had drawn it freehand in one pass with no instrument, the Pope said that in the simple circle, Giotto proved his skill beyond all the other artists.  Legend, truth, or somewhere in between, that story was well known among the art community by Rembrandt’s day.  And here we see two perfect reddish circles in the background of Rembrandt’s self-portrait–and he’s even holding the tools of his trade.  Gotta hand it to Rembrandt for the artist’s version of a burn!



This timeline, intended to be printed on a landscape 8.5 X 11″ paper, shows events in Rembrandt’s lifetime, and some of the works he did during that time.



This timeline shows events around the world, including some in Rembrandt’s own Netherlands, which took place during his lifetime. If you are using Classical Conversations curriculum, you’ll see a number of links with the Timeline and History grammar from Foundations, but I still think it’s interesting to see what all was happening during Rembrandt’s life.  This also, is meant to be on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper, printed landscape.

My kids have wanted to learn “pretty writing” for a while now, (took me a long time to figure out they meant cursive, which was fine by me!)  I found a great handwriting worksheet generator, and used it to create this handwriting sheet for the younger set.

Rembrandt resources for learning which I recommend include:

Meeting the World’s Great Artists: Rembrandt  by Mike Venezia, available at Amazon, as well as many libraries  (I read Mike Venezia’s books when I was growing up, and was so excited to see he’s done more and even re-worked his original books.  These books mix high-quality reproductions of the artists work with an entertaining biography and cartoons exploring the artist’s life)

I posted about this a day or so ago, but for those who want a quick intro, or who have younger kids, I just love the YouTube series Madi and Dada.  This is their episode on Rembrandt:



The edited lesson plans and the paintings I used are going to have to wait another few days.  Sorry, but personal circumstances mean my schedule is a little more stressful than usual, and it’s starting to wear on me.  I know some people really like what I did this past fall, adn for those who were hoping I’d be putting up more information, here’s a start.  As Seth Godin says, “Better shipped and imperfect, than perfect and unshipped.”

Any questions?  Leave a comment!  Don’t forget to check out the facebook page too, and ask questions!