Classical and Neoclassical

Classical and Neoclassical

Classical and Neoclassical. What does it all mean?

Key Stage:

KS3-4 Art and Design


This lesson can be used:
-to start a sculpture project,
-to foster an understanding of the link between discoveries made outside the arts, and artists’ practice
-to practice the use of maquettes as preliminary studies for 3d work and be aware of its similarities to the use of sketches prior to painting.

Suggested Classroom Activity

John Gibson’s ‘Hunter & His Dog’ at The Usher Gallery, Lincoln, was made as a result of the artist observing a street scene in Rome, and returning to make a small clay model of it in his studio. The short film shows Andrea Martin from The Usher Gallery talking about how Gibson came to design the life size sculpture.
He was quickly commissioned to make a life-size marble statue. He subsequently made further full-size copies.

The Hunter and His Dog in 3D

Task the students to study the video sequence scrolling through the footage to find the angle they would choose to best represent the sculpture in 2D. Students take a screen grab of their best shot, note the time in seconds it appears in the clip. Quickly check to see the range of choices they made.
Ask them to list the details they see in the design that show the artist was aware of the practical need to protect vulnerable elements of the design to avoid the piece getting damaged in transport.

Chisel and Colour

Ask the students what year they think the marble sculpture would have been made.
This short film (2m:14sec) will help inform the students about the similarities and differences between Classical and Neoclassical. It can be used to provoke a discussion about how much artists of one generation copy or refer back to previous generations in their work.
<b>Try out the method of artist John Gibson</b>

Try out the method of artist John Gibson

Set the task to replicate the approach of John Gibson and observe a real-life sports lesson. Students should sketch sporting action poses. They must choose an action pose they think would make an interesting and viable neo-classical style sculpture. Having researched and made decisions students should develop a design sheet for their chosen pose. This should involve simple sketches that show the proposed neoclassical sculpture from at least two angles. The idea is more important than drawing ability and simple quick sketches will demonstrate their idea.

Development Activity:

Almost twenty years after making the Hunter & His Dog, John Gibson started following the ancient practice of colouring his statues. The Collection gallery, Lincoln has an installation by Oliver Laric in which he has made a 3d scan of Gibson’s 1838 piece, printed a smaller version of it with the Z dimension greatly reduced to produce a relief effect, and applied colour.

Show the Laric photograph on the whiteboard and give your students copies of the Extract from the letter in which Gibson describes his colouring of the Tainted Venus.

Ask them to choose either the Laric or Gibson approach and produce sketches of how they might add colour to their design.

Learning Objectives:

Through using this lesson plan students should:
-learn about the history of art, craft, design and architecture, including periods, styles and major movements from ancient times up to the present day.
-use a range of techniques to record their observations in sketchbooks, journals and other media as a basis for exploring their ideas
-analyse and evaluate their own work, and that of others, in order to strengthen the visual impact or applications of their work
in addition know and understand how sources inspire the development of ideas. For example, drawing on:
the work and approaches of artists, craftspeople or designers from contemporary and/or historical contexts, periods, societies and cultures

Research, Notes and Links:

Download this lesson plan
Download the definitions sheet which explains the difference between Classical and Neoclassical artistic styles.