Master Collection activity 2: investigating animals in art
Pupils investigate animals in art, inspired by paintings, prints and drawings in the Master collection at Folkestone Museum, and in art galleries around the world.
They explore how and why artists create pictures of animals, then work independently to create their own carefully observed animal study.
Increased knowledge and understanding of animals in art and how to draw them.
KS1-4 Art (animals in art)
KS1-2 History (history of art)
KS1-2 English (speaking and listening, discussing and debating art)
Children explore animals in art at Learn with Objects Master 2: animals including Studies of a Swan by Alexandre-François Desportes (1661-1743) and Studies of Deer with a City beyond attributed to Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625). They explore and discuss the reasons artists’ draw or paint them.
Studies of a Swan by Alexandre-François Desportes
This drawing was made to help him and his studio assistants in designing royal tapestries. Explore with pupils some drawings of swans for the same and other purposes:
- Pieter Boel (1622-1674), a Flemish artist, worked at the Gobelins factory in France on tapestry designs, and also made studies of swans:
- François Pompon (1855-1933), a French sculptor, pioneered stylised animal sculpture. Swan studies in a sketchbook at the Louvre relate to a stylised swan sculpture:
(three studies across two sheets of sketchbook)
(study of swan and head)
(studies of swan and dromedary)
(swan sculpture model in Besançon)
(dromedary sculpture model in Besançon)
- An unknown artist at the Sèvres factory in France made a swan design for a decorative element in the early 19th century:
- This stylised design is similar to one used on an early 19th century pedestal in the Royal Collection:
- Modern artist Jean Haffen (1895-1993) lived in Brittany and made lots of drawings of swans, for the joy of observation:
- Felix Buhot (1847-1898), a French artist, often visited England. His speciality was etching, a form of printmaking popular among artists in the late 19th On one of his visits to Kent he made an etching of a woman with swans at Barham Court, Teston, setting off the dark swan-shaped figure of a woman against white swans:
Swans in paintings by Jan Brueghel and circle:
Leading on to the studies of deer attributed to Brueghel in the Master Collection, explore some paintings by Brueghel and his circle that include swans:
- Jan Brueghel (1568-1625), Garden of Eden including swans and deer
- Roelandt Savery (1576-1639), Landscape with birds
- Roelandt Savery (1576-1639), Orpheus with swan(?) and deer
Birds as food - game:
Desportes was best known for his paintings of game. He would go hunting with the French king Louis XIV. Detailed studies like the Master Collection swan were made by Desportes of game birds, fruit, vegetables and plants for paintings like this one, Game, fruit and cauliflower:
- What’s dead and what’s living?
- Desportes drew his self-portrait as a hunter:
- What animals has he included?
- He also painted his self-portrait as a hunter in 1699:
- What differences are there between the drawing and painting?
- What has been omitted or added?
- What is the artist wearing in each?
- Compare the boar on the collector’s stamp used by Thomas Man Bridge with the drawing of a wild boar by Desportes:
Studies of Deer with a City beyond attributed to Jan Brueghel the Elder
- Ask pupils to put themselves in the place of one of the people taking a stroll in the background and write a story about their walk.
- What can you see?
- Where have you been and where are you going?
- Make balloon speech bubbles for the deer. What are they saying?
- Using this drawing or the Desportes painting of a deer hunt (see Deer as game) write
- What happened next?
- Where are the huntsmen?
Drawing for painting:
- Compare the Master Collection drawing of deer to the deer in Jan Brueghel’s painting, Paradise landscape with animals entering ark (auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2015):
- What has Brueghel included to make sure we know these are deer? [antlers]
- What other animals can you see?
- What animals has he left out?
- Drawing can be done in oils, not just pencil. Compare the Master Collection drawing to an oil study such as Brueghel’s monkeys, cats and donkey’s in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna:
- Look at the oil study of a deer by Desportes (whose drawing of swans is in the Master Collection):
Deer as game:
French artist Alexandre-François Desportes (1661-1743), whose drawing of a swan is in the Master Collection, accompanied the French king Louis XIV on hunts. Desportes made paintings and tapestry designs. His speciality was scenes of hunting or of dogs and dead game.
- For his self-portraits as a hunter see links under the Studies of a Swan.
- Look at and discuss his oil painting of a deer hunt:
- Desportes made careful oil studies of the King’s hunting dogs:
(Study of a hunting dog’s head)
(Study of a hunting dog’s paws)
(Study of a hunting dog)
- His drawing of hunting dogs is more ferocious than his painting:
For deer that got away see the National Gallery painting of Saint Giles and a Deer (hunters are in the background and an arrow is stuck in the hand of Saint Giles, who has saved the deer):
Create pencil sketches of an animal inspired by the drawings and paintings you’ve explored in the Master collection and elsewhere. Try to observe the details really carefully.
Find photographs of animals in different positions (sitting, standing, running, jumping, feeding) to include in your composition, or concentrate on close-up details such as the hooves, head or horns.
Feel free to annotate your sketch with colour observations (like Desportes did in Studies of a Swan).
Learn with Objects links
Use Learn with Objects Master Collection 2: animals.