Master Collection activity 1c: bird’s eye view of Venice
Pupils explore the Bird’s Eye View of Venice and create a map of the main Venice tourist sites (using coloured 19th century prints of them from the Master Collection).
They investigate bird’s eye views of other cities including of London and Paris.
Finally, they design a gondola tour using the Bird’s Eye View to plan their route and describe what they see in a letter, travelogue diary, newspaper report or blog.
Increased knowledge and understanding of Venice, journeys, transport, travel and the Grand Tour.
KS1-4 Art (investigating art)
KS1-3 Geography (maps, bird’s eye views and aerial maps, travelling across Europe, European destinations, Venice).
KS1-2 History (history of transport and tourism, travel, Victorians)
KS1-2 English (creative writing)
Using the Bird’s Eye View of Venice pupils create a map of the main Venice tourist sites (using coloured 19th century prints of them from the Master Collection).
This might have a copy of the bird’s eye view in the middle of an A3 sheet of paper, with colour images of other tourist sites stuck around the outside, with lines linking the images to where they are on the Bird’s Eye View of Venice.
- Page of Venice sights including Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Basilica
- A Gondola with San Giorgio Maggiore beyond
- Grand Canal with Palazzo Giustiniani or Grand Hotel d’Europe
- St Mark’s Square, Venice
- Piazzetta di S. Marco
- Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)
- Doge’s Palace seen from the sea
Taking a bird’s eye view:
- Debate: how was the Bird’s Eye View created? (This was before photography or drawing from airplanes, drones or hot-air balloons.)
- The Master Collection engraving is a much smaller-scale and modified copy of a huge six-sheet woodcut map made in 1500 by Jacopo de’Barbari (circa 1460-1516). De’Barbari’s map measures 1330 x 2810 mm. It was very famous and much copied or imitated. He created his map using studies of Venice he made from three bell towers, combining different perspectives. For high-resolution images and details of De’Barbari’s map see:
- Compare the Master Collection print with the Bird’s Eye View of Venice painted by Venetian artist Francesco Guardi (1712-1793) in 1775:
- Get pupils to imagine and draw a bird’s-eye view of the school, or their home and street.
- Explore recent drone photography, aerial photography and paintings based on it, and 19th century balloon maps, e.g.
- Ayr Aerial View, acrylic on canvas by Jonathan James Warrender (Ayr Town Hall)
- Aerial View of a factory on the River Avon, oil by an unknown artist (Science & Industry Museum)
- Aerial View of the Cromarty Firth, oil painting by Grant Boyd (Invergordon Naval Museum & Heritage Centre)
- So-called Balloon map of London made for the Great Exhibition of 1851
- Balloon view of Boston, photograph by J. W. Black, 1860
- Nadar photographing Paris from a balloon in the 1860s: Nadar elevating photography to the level of art by Honore Daumier
- Balloon view of Paris by Nadar, 1868
Ask pupils to design their own early 19th century Venice gondola tour using the Bird’s Eye View map they have created, and describe what they see in a letter, travelogue diary entry, newspaper report or blog.
Ask the children to look at the Birds Eye View in close up detail and the prints of Venice sights, to describe what they can see on their route such as strange boats (including the gondola), St Mark’s Square, the Grand Canal, the incredible architecture and works of art, the houses, churches and bridges.
Don’t forget to describe how busy it is, and the dress and customs of the people, including the Venetians, and the merchants and visitors from many lands.
- What do they look like?
- What are they doing?
- Think about the colours, the smells, the sounds, and tastes of exotic foods and spices.
Learn with Objects links
Use Learn with Objects Master 1: Thomas Man Bridge’s journeys.