(To read more about Charlotte Mason picture study and to see the other Picture Study Aids I offer, click here.)
When I began offering the Picture Study Aids back in 2016, I of course wanted to cover the more well-known artists who you’d probably find on any homeschool rotation list: van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vermeer, etc. But I also wanted to add some more variety to that list. When I was in college getting my art history degree, I remember very clearly wishing that the artists we briefly covered in my non-western, basic survey class were studied more in-depth in my other classes as I loved their art as well.
Giotto was the first artist for whom I wrote a Picture Study Aid from the AmblesideOnline artist rotation and I thought it might be interesting to see what his contemporaries were doing in other parts of the world. Right around the same time that he was making his way around Italy, painting masterpiece frescos in various churches and changing the path of art history, Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, was reigning over one-fifth of the world’s land area. His realm covered sections of Eastern Europe and Asia, including China, where he set himself up as the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty and that is where I decided to focus on for this Picture Study Aid. He is described in detail in Marco Polo’s accounts of his travels to Asia, which made this a fun study to have when we were reading his book for Year 3.
The original Yuan Dynasty Picture Study Aid was the second one I created, so I decided to revisit it recently and give it some updating. I’ve updated it with descriptions of all the pieces covered (something I did not do with the first few Picture Study Aids), switched out one of the pieces, and added another painting so you can pick and choose from the seven pieces which ones you’d like to include in your picture study time.
I’m excited to announce today that the new version and accompanying prints are now available in both print and PDF format in the shop! The book includes Marco Polo’s description of Kublai Khan’s court, key topics about seven pieces (6 paintings and a lacquer tray), and printable versions or professionally printed copies of the pieces discussed (without artist name or titles).
For further reading and other pieces from this area and time period, I liked the following resources:
- Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Marco Polo, His Travels and Adventures by George Towle
- The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman – This children’s book has beautiful illustrations (including archival art) and an entire chapter covering Polo’s experiences in Kublai Khan’s court.
- The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty by James C.Y. Wyatt – Wyatt and The Metropolitan Museum of Art collaborated on several books for an exhibition about Kublai Khan at the museum. This volume in particular is filled with beautiful photographs of art and artifacts from the Yuan dynasty. (It’s also very expensive, but your library may have it!)
This is by no means an exhaustive analysis or study of each piece, and that is intentional. I tried to keep it all very simple in the spirit of Charlotte Mason’s principles and there being, “no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.” (vol 6 pg 216)
For enjoying art with children in general, I also included a page of art sources that I’ve found particularly good:
Online Art Collections
For younger children, I highly recommend the Mini-Master series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober. Also, the Touch The Art series by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo.
For both younger and older children, the Come Look With Me series by Gladys S. Blizzard is excellent.
You may download it below for personal use in your own homeschool. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please fill out this form!