Copying is allowed!

Copying is allowed!

Artist Vincent van Gogh
Title Self-portrait as a Painter
Date 1887
Collection Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
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Slide 1: Tekstslide
Art and designLower Secondary (Key Stage 3)Upper Secondary (Key Stage 4)

In deze les zitten 23 slides, met interactieve quizzen, tekstslides en 1 video.

time-iconLesduur is: 40 min


The pupils use Japanese prints as inspiration for new work of their own, just as Vincent Van Gogh did. They can do this lesson (with video) on their own.


General Learning Objectives
- Pupils get to know the work of Vincent van Gogh.
- Pupils combine elements from various Japanese prints in a new work of their own.

Time allocation
- Content of lesson and watching video: c. 20 minutes.
- Practical exercise: c. 20 minutes, depending on material chosen.

- Decide what materials to work with (see “materials required” and “alternatives”) and lay them out before beginning the lesson.

Materials required
- Computer, iPad or mobile phone with sound.
- Thick A3 drawing paper
- Pencils, erasers and rulers
- Dip pens and Indian ink, or fineliners
- Colouring pencils or felt pens

1. Use oil pastels and poster paint or acrylic (with thin brushes) instead of colouring pencils or felt pens. Don’t use fineliners for the line work if painting.
2. Lay the emphasis on the “composition” of new work from parts of various examples and ask the children to make a collage with scissors, glue and old magazines.
3. Ask the pupils to combine other examples from art history, from a single artist or a mix of several.

Background information
Vincent van Gogh admired the lines, colour planes and cropping used by Japanese artists in their figurative work, landscapes and city views. They were different from the European art he was used to, and from anything he had made himself. Vincent studied Japanese prints and then made his own versions of them. He did this very carefully, using, for example, the grid method to scale the images up onto canvas. (For more on this, see the lesson Vincent XL.)

Onderdelen in deze les

Copying is allowed!

Artist Vincent van Gogh
Title Self-portrait as a Painter
Date 1887
Collection Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

Look at the picture, Courtesan, by Vincent van Gogh. Put the music on. Look for as long as the music plays. Then go to the next slide for the question.
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Title Courtesan (after Eisen)
Date 1887
Collection Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

Where do you think this woman’s outfit comes from?
South Africa
South Korea

Slide 3 - Quizvraag

Give reasons for your answer

Slide 4 - Open vraag


Here you see the example Vincent used for his painting. It’s the cover of a French magazine, Paris Illustré, from 1886.
It features an image of the work of Japanese artist, Keisai Eisen.

Slide 5 - Tekstslide

Compare and contrast

Look again carefully at these two works.
List the similarities and differences in the next slide.

Slide 6 - Tekstslide

Name five similarities and five differences.

Slide 7 - Woordweb

Vincent didn’t just look at the magazine for Courtesan. He also looked at other Japanese prints.

He wrote, “Theo and I have hundreds of these Japanese prints”.

Theo van Gogh
Here you can see Theo, Vincent’s younger brother. They lived together for a while in Paris. Theo supported Vincent (financially), so that he could concentrate on his art.

Slide 8 - Tekstslide

Dit zijn twee van die prenten. Deze gebruikte Vincent óók als voorbeeld voor het schilderij.

Can you see what Vincent has borrowed from these prints in his Courtesan?

Title New Print of Insects and Small Creatures
Artist Utagawa Yoshimaru
Date 1883
Collection Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
Title Geishas in a Landscape
Artist Onknown
Date 1870-80
Collection Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Slide 9 - Tekstslide

Click on the hotspots here to look at the examples.

Slide 10 - Tekstslide

This hotspot reveals the second print used by Vincent as an example.

Slide 11 - Tekstslide

“Japanese paintings”
Artist Utagawa Hiroshige
Title Sudden Evening Shower on the Great Bridge near Atake
Date 1857
Collection Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent made other “Japanese” paintings as well as Courtesan, such as Bridge in the rain.

Click on the hotspot to see the print he used for it.

Slide 12 - Tekstslide

Vincent also used a print by Japanese artist, Utagawa Hiroshige, as his inspiration for Flowering Plum Orchard.

Click on the hotspot to see the print.

Slide 13 - Tekstslide

Click on the hotspots. Apart from the subject,
there is one important difference between the painting in the middle and the two
other works.

Slide 14 - Tekstslide

What is the most important difference between the painting in the middle and the two other works?

Slide 15 - Open vraag

Vincent painted “Japanese characters” in the borders. He thought it looked nice.
But of course he couldn’t read any Japanese. The writing therefore doesn’t make any sense.

Slide 16 - Tekstslide

So Vincent copied Japanese prints. But, what did he actually learn from them? Watch the film on the next slide.

Slide 17 - Tekstslide

Slide 18 - Video

Click on the hotspots to see everything that Vincent learned from Japanese prints once more.
Colours and planes
Contour lines
High horizon
Zooming in

Slide 19 - Tekstslide

Your turn!

Choose at least one of the
Japanese prints on the next two slides. Make your own drawing based on what
you’ve chosen. Use at least two things that Vincent learned from Japanese
prints in your drawing.

Draw a central panel first, just like the Japanese artists, and a border around the edge, where you could put characters. Click on the hotspot for an example of the layout.

Slide 20 - Tekstslide

Slide 21 - Tekstslide

Would you like to put your own Japanese text in the border of your drawing?
Tip: use Google Translate or another translation app!

Slide 22 - Tekstslide

How did it go? Take a photo of your work.

Slide 23 - Open vraag