Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review

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Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


In our homeschool, we're officially on our summer break, but there are still some things we're working on. Turns out I am the one who is getting to do some studying, as I had the opportunity to review an art history curriculum over the past several weeks. It's a full credit art history course called The Master and His Apprentices: Art History From a Christian Perspective

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Master and His Apprentices is a textbook that can be used an art appreciation book, or an art history course, and is suitable for use as a stand-alone curriculum or as a supplement to other studies. The book contains over 600 images in full color, combined with a readable and informative text that discusses art, architecture, archaeology in the context of history. Some families may especially appreciate that the images chosen do not include any nude figures. The study begins with Creation and a view of God as the Creator and Master Artist, and moves through ancient cultures, classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Baroque period up until today. Author Gina Ferguson is a homeschool graduate, and has been teaching art, history, English, and the Bible to students for more than a dozen years. She's taken that valuable teaching experience and compiled it into this resource for homeschool families, co-ops, and private schools.

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Master and His Apprentices text is available in digital or hardbound versions. We received the digital version, which is a fixed-layout PDF. We also received the accompanying digital Teacher Guide, and there is a softcover version of that available as well. If you prefer to buy the digital versions and print them yourself, they are already conveniently laid out "binder ready" for you to do that. The textbook is 380 pages and includes over 600 pictures, most of which are in color. The Teacher Guide is 120 pages and in addition to the answer key, it provides a grading grid, sample syllabus and suggested teaching schedule, all the review questions for each chapter, and four exams.

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
section of an exam

Okay, let's talk about the textbook itself! The text begins with a chapter discussing the entire concept of art and an introduction to this study and how to use it. Chapter 2 gives an overview of the six days of creation and the creativity and artistry of God seen in his handiwork of each day. From there we move on through history, beginning with ancient cultures:
  • Chapter 3: Ancient Near East (ziggurats, Tower of Babel, mosaics, seals, Solomon's Temple, Assyrian Reliefs, Ishtar Gate)
  • Chapter 4: Egyptian (canopic jars, statuary, pyramids, temples)
  • Chapter 5: Aegean (Minoan art, Mycenaean art)
  • Chapter 6: Early Greek (pottery, sculpture, columns, the Acropolis)
  • Chapter 7: Etruscan
  • Chapter 8: Roman (architecture, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, arches, sculpture)
  • Chapter 9: Early Christian and Byzantine (basilicas, mosaics, Hagia Sophia)
  • Chapter 10: Medieval and Islamic (Dome of the Rock, Cloisonne, runestones, crosses, manuscript illumination)
  • Chapter 11: Romanesque (architecture, stave church design, Bayeux Tapestry)
  • Chapter 12: Gothic (Notre-Dame de Paris and other cathedrals)
  • Chapter 13: Proto-Renaissance (Giotto and other artists)
  • Chapter 14: Early Italian Renaissance (Brunelleschi, Donatello, and other artists)
  • Chapter 15: High Italian Renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and others)
  • Chapter 16: Northern Renaissance (van Eyck, Durer, and others)
  • Chapter 17: Baroque (Rubens, Rembrandt, and others)
  • Chapter 18: Rococo to Today
  • Chapter 19: Global Highlights
Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Each chapter provides an overview of the culture and period, followed by detailed discussion of specific examples of the type of artwork and architecture developed during the time. There is a lot of history included as well, such as biographies of some of the Egyptian Pharoahs. The religious beliefs and cultural background are discussed in some detail as well, making it very clear that artistic expression is a reflection of the worldview and daily experiences of cultures and individuals. Each chapter also includes a timeline section which helps readers understand how the pieces fit together in an overall historical sense.

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


How did we use it?  I sent myself back to school to read this text for myself! As such, I didn't actually complete any of the review questions or exams in the Teacher Guide, but I did have a look through them. With the teaching schedule provided, it's easy to see how this course would lend itself very well to a co-op class! I would have liked Kennady to be able to refer to this when she was studying ancient and medieval history. I think with her interest in art, having pictures and explanations of the artwork, monuments, and architecture mentioned in other history text would have helped the entire study come to life.

I admit to mostly skimming the chapter discussing Creation - I appreciated the establishment of the premise that God is the original Creator, and all other works of art are in some sense imitations of His work. However, I also felt that the text was just a bit heavy-handed in some of this presentation.

So far, my reading has taken me to the ancient cultures of Babylon, Israel, and Assyria, and I've learned about the mosaics, seals, and statues of these people groups; and about the details and artistry of the Hebrew tabernacle and Solomon's Temple. I also learned that the type of statue in the picture below is called a lamassus, and it typically has five legs - so that two are visible in a face-forward view, but all four legs are visible in a side view. The more you know, right?!

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

I've learned some new details about the art of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Etruscans. I'm currently reading about the innovations and creative designs of Roman architecture.

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Greek pottery
Looking ahead, I like how the design of cathedrals and buildings is discussed. There is symbolism and artistry in the floor plans of many of these architectural wonders!

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Beginning with the Renaissance, the text focuses on influential artists during each period and highlights their lives, beliefs, and individual artistic styles. Several examples of the work of each artist are featured.
Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Leonardo da Vinci

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Michelangelo

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Hans Holbein

After the chapter on the Baroque period, there are only two more chapters. One chapter giving a broad overview of the Rococo period up until modern time. One chapter and less than ten pages doesn't seem like enough to cover several hundred years of art history, and the modern era is discussed in the more general terms of art movements such as neo-Classicism, Impressionism, and Surrealism. 

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Similarly, only one chapter is devoted to non-Western art, with only brief discussions of the art styles and purposes of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Native Americans.

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The textbook concludes with a salvation message and an explanation of why the Biblical account of creation and bold Biblical worldview statements appear throughout the book. Whether we realize it or not, every text has a worldview! This particular text unapologetically takes a Biblical worldview. There's also a brief discussion of creation versus evolution, and some background on the Biblical timeline and the work of James Ussher in developing it. 

What we liked best:
  • lots of full color photos of the locations and works of art being discussed
  • the text is very readable and almost conversational in tone
  • information about how and why religious belief influenced art of many cultures
  • very useful teacher helps in the Teacher Guide
What I need to mention:
  •  Do remember to look at the photocopy provisions for the materials as explained on the website, and if you need copies for additional students, be sure to purchase those rights.
  • In many places, I found the reminders about worshiping God alone and other spiritual lessons to be a bit overdone. I didn't disagree - I just thought it was a bit heavy-handed, and sometimes felt rather forced. If you'd find a sentence or two of Christian teaching at the end of each chapter offensive or out of place, this may not be a good fit for you.
  • This study focuses on art history up until the 1600's. It's fair to say that the study of modern art history, or non-western art history could, and perhaps should, be given a full credit course of their own. Regardless, there's only an overview included in this text.
Our bottom line: This is a valuable and well-written study that I'm finding fascinating reading just for my personal interest. I think it would be an excellent study for a high school student in need of a Fine Arts credit, or as a History credit course for a student particularly interested in art. The course is designed so it can be easily used in a co-op or small classroom setting, and the Teacher Guide offers help to do that effectively. Overall, this book earns my warm recommendation to homeschool families.

Art History from a Christian Perspective - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew - on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Would you like a new perspective on art history? Here's what you need to know:


Pricing: The textbook is available as hardback for $149.99 and as a digital download for $34.99. The Teacher Guide is available as a softcover for $24.99 and as a digital download for $19.99. It is considered consumable, so additional print/photocopy rights may be purchased for $2/student. See the Purchase page at the website for all pricing and details on the print and photocopy rights.

Age recommendations: Suitable for all ages, but as a curriculum it is intended for high school age students.

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The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}



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1 comments:

Annette V said...

Hey Kym, I admittedly checked in on your post once in a while as I was working on my review. Thanks for your thorough review it was helpful. :)

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