Adventures in Art History Adventures in Art    

Lesson 35: The Circus

by Georges-Pierre Seurat


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    Adventures in Art History Adventures in Art    

Lesson 35: The Circus

by Georges-Pierre Seurat

Directions

Study the painting for one week.

Over the week:

  • Look at the painting.
  • Read the synopsis.
  • Study the vocabulary words.
  • Read about the artist.
  • Practice reciting the names of the artist and the painting.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.

Synopsis

Georges Seurat's 'The Circus' captures the essence of a 19th century Parisian circus. A daring lady in gold teeters on one leg atop a wild-eyed, galloping horse. Clowns with red-horned hair and white makeup jeer and perform acrobatics. A dashing ringleader in a black tuxedo holds a whip and manages the spectacle while an orchestra plays in the balcony above. Below the orchestra sits a group of tuxedo-wearing men. To the bottom left, ladies in hats and men in suits watch the show. The top left holds the cheap seats, evident from the casual attire of the audience. Unlike today's circuses, although a few children are present, most audience members are adults. Seurat did not finish 'The Circus' before he died. In some places, the white background and blue-lined grid underlying the painting can be seen. 'The Circus' offers another example of pointillism.

Vocabulary

Pointillism: A technique of painting using tiny dots of colors, which blend in the viewer's eye.
Ringleader: A person who initiates or leads an activity.
Tuxedo: A man's dinner jacket.
Orchestra: A group of instruments, especially playing classical music.
Audience: The group of spectators or listeners at a public event.

Concepts

Georges-Pierre Seurat painted 'The Circus.'

  1. Georges Seurat was born in 1859, in Paris, France. See his picture below.
  2. Find Seurat's country of birth on the map of Europe below.
  3. Seurat pioneered the painting technique of pointillism. In pointillism, artists apply many small dots of color close together such that they blend together when viewed from a distance.
  4. In 1891, Seurat died at the age of 31 of an unknown illness in Paris.

Enrichment

Activity 1: Can You Find It?

During the week, study the painting and find the following:

  • Ringleader
  • Tuxedo
  • Orchestra
  • Audience
  • Horse
  • Clown
  • Musicians

Activity 2: Narrate the Painting

  • After studying the painting, narrate the scene shown in the painting aloud using your own words.

Activity 3: Complete Vocabulary Activities

  • While studying the vocabulary words, point them out in the painting.
  • Define each of the vocabulary words in your own words.

Activity 4: Color the Painting   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 44 of 'Kindergarten Art History Coloring Book.'

Activity 5: Act Out the Painting

  • One day this week, hold your own circus outside.
  • Use stuffed animals or pretend to be the circus animals yourselves.
  • Pretend the be the lady balancing on the horse, a silly clown, the ringleader, or an audience member cheering on the show.

Review

Question 1

What is the setting of the painting?
1 / 3

Answer 1

A circus.
1 / 3

Question 2

Who are the characters in the painting?
2 / 3

Answer 2

The circus performers, the musicians, and the audience members.
2 / 3

Question 3

What is happening in the painting?
3 / 3

Answer 3

The circus performers and musicians are performing/playing. The audience enjoys the show.
3 / 3

  1. What is the setting of the painting? A circus.
  2. Who are the characters in the painting? The circus performers, the musicians, and the audience members.
  3. What is happening in the painting? The circus performers and musicians are performing/playing. The audience enjoys the show.

References

  1. 'Georges-Pierre Seurat.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.