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An Introduction to Art History – A Classical Approach to Art – Part III: Ancient Art –Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome Review by Jennifer Harrison

Barry Stebbing
How Great Thouh ART Publications
PO Box 48
McFarlan NC 28102

Part of the beauty of a classical education is the way subjects all overlap and interconnect. For instance, while studying medieval/early renaissance history, classical students are often studying astronomy and the great scientists and philosophers of that time period, as well. The great works of literature and art are also part of that package. These different studies all influenced each other and are best learned together. It is often impossible to say when a history lesson begins and an art lesson ends. Art is often the key to understanding the mind of the times and it is a rich asset when combined with history lessons.

This is very easy to do when studying medieval through modern history but gets a little sticky when approaching ancient history. What do we study? Cave drawings and pyramids? Well, yes. There are amazing things to study during the ancient history time period, and How Great Thou Art has organized them into a year-long course that incorporates art appreciation, art application, and history all into one.

An Introduction to Art History is written for ages seven to adult. It includes thirty-six lessons, which are divided into three terms. Twelve lessons are spent studying ancient Egypt, twelve on ancient Greece, and twelve on Ancient Rome. The course is described as a year-long course, completing one lesson per week, but the lessons are brief enough that they could easily be done in a day. So if you are really motivated, it could comfortably be done in 36 days rather than 36 weeks. Some families might prefer doing just one art lesson per week or taking a bit more time with the lessons.

Each lesson begins with a little bit of description of the history or techniques being studied. Artwork is observed and then mimicked. The course includes Masterpiece Cards which are full-color samples of ancient art. There are nine cards (three for each term) which are standard paper sized cardstock. There are three cards for each term, with multiple images printed on each card. There are eight images studied for Egyptians, eleven for the Greeks, and fourteen for Romans. These are observed and discussed in each lesson.

The course also includes Art Cards, which provide space for the hands-on art lessons. There are five cards for Egypt, five cards for Greece, and four cards for Rome. The cards include samples, grids, and boxes for artwork space. There is a short true/false quiz at end the end of each of the three terms.

The lessons are simple, but interesting. For instance, lesson ten is on painting. Egyptian painting is discussed, as is the symbolism behind the hawk. An Egyptian painting is observed on a Masterpiece Card. Students then pull out their Art Card and draw a falcon.

There is a technique used, which the lessons refer to as introduction to painting. It involves coloring circles with water-soluble markers and then using a wet paintbrush to pick up color from these circles to paint onto their artwork. For my family, this idea was quickly dropped and replaced with watercolors.

We opted to do one lesson per week and use the lessons in the book as a starting point, digging a bit deeper into history, style, and techniques. The course was very helpful as a starting point for each topic. The instruction book, masterpiece cards, and art cards can be purchased as a set for $25.95.

-Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2018