Friday, October 30, 2009

Teachers of the Past

Under the Gables explores what it was like to be a teacher long ago. (More HERE.) Many teenagers, including some of my grandparents, earned money for college by teaching elementary school. To quote:
According to the National Gallery of Art, where this watercolor resides, scholars were long perplexed about the shapes on the blackboard, whose corner holds Homer's signature in "chalk." Art historians have since discovered that the shapes signify that the young woman is teaching "drawing," which was considered a necessity for children, since it enabled industrial design and construction of buildings and presumably also furniture.

The composition echoes the shapes on the blackboard in the angularity of the teacher's apron and the checks of the gingham, the stacked rectangles of the background, the symmetrical placement of the blackboard and teacher, and the slate monochrome of the entire painting. The one contrast is the teacher's fresh and very young face. In fact, so young does her expression seem that if she were not holding the pointer, we would think she was a student.
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10 comments:

Gabriel Girl said...

Beautiful, textural painting. Though I have to admit I've never seen someone hold their arms like that...

Julygirl said...

She looks young because she is young. In those days there were people teaching at the age of 17 and 18 because one did not need a four year degree to teach the basics. My mother began teaching at 17 years old while continuing to obtain her teachers degree. I do not understand, however, why the critics would come to the conclusion that the teacher is teaching drawing. To me it is obvious that she is teaching shapes; angles, circles, squares, triangles, etc. In teaching drawing one must learn perspective and the way objects appear to the eye in relation to their relative position and distance as well as horizontal and verticle 'vanishing points'. To determine horizontal and verticle vanishing points one does have to learn to use lines and angles.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Louis XVI opened free schools of drawing for poor apprentice boys ... due to finances the project was not fully realised. In Paris, yes.

elena maria vidal said...

That is true. And the King started a Society for the care of the Blind and Orphaned which was successful and is still in existence.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Was that the one run by abbé l'Épée, inventor of ... shucks (sorry for my language), abbé l'Épée was the one who invented or systematised the most used finger language for the deaf.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

PS: you may have noticed I have changed the URL of my deretour blog.

http://hglundahlsblog.blogspot.com

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Thank you. I just clicked the link, and it worked as well as it does on libraries in Paris.

That is you did right, some librarian did wrong.

elena maria vidal said...

Hans, the link works fine for me.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

I know.

I said it works NOT in the libraries of Paris, i e it starts to open, it is the right site and THEN "Internet Exlorer ne peut pas ouvrir cette page" and when u click on it, the page closes down to an error message.

Last time I tried in a cyber, it was all right.

As I said: you did the exactly right thing, librarians over here the wrong one.

elena maria vidal said...

Oh, okay, I see. And I changed your URL to the new one. Thanks for letting me know!