Grade 8 History Lesson 41

The Impressionists: Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Cassatt


     Today we will take a break from all the wars and battles and look at art. This type of art is called impressionism and we will learn how it got it’s name. And also learn about four of the most famous impressionists. Impressionism is a form of painting that essentially catches the first impression of something. Like when you suddenly turn your head to look at something. This type of art abandons the fine lines of the Renaissance, and uses fuzzy, vibrating images using thousands of dots of paint. Cameras were being invented at this time so this new field of photography probably inspired artists to take snapshots of things around them.

Our first impressionist is Claude Monet (Moh NAY). He was born in Paris France in 1840. He aspired to be an artists and started heading to art school. However instead of copying the works or the masters in the Louvre, he found himself sitting next to the windows of the museum to paint what he saw outdoors. While in Paris, Monet was influenced by the brushstroke techniques of Édouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. And while he was in England he was influenced by the vivid colors of landscape artists. As early as 1866, when Monet was just 26 he gained recognition for a panting titled Camille, or The Woman in the Green Dress. The woman in the painting would later become his wife. Monet’s art style was growing in popularity, however it still lacked a name.

This would change in 1874 when Monet displayed a work in Paris titled Impression, Sunrise. When an art critic tried to make fun of Monet’s funny broken strokes. He used the title of the work to discredit it in the news column. Stating the work left him with the “impression” of unfinished wallpaper. Instead he just gave a name to the new style of painting. And artists adopting this style would then on be known as impressionists. Claude Monet would remain “loyal” to Impressionism for the rest of his life. Painting beaches, his son on a hobbyhorse, and poppies in a field, he loved painting nature. One of his most touching paintings was one of his wife on her deathbed. At only 32 she died, probably of tuberculosis in 1879. In grieving for his wife, Monet painted the more dismal landscape of France in the fog and the bitter cold for about a year. But with time he came back to lighter themes. He traveled and painted in Italy and settled in Giverny in northern France. Some of his most famous works were painted at Giverny including Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies (1899) and numerous scenes titled Water Lilies. He died at 86 and is buried at Giverny. Thousands visit Monet’s gardens today in memory of the artist’s contribution to Impressionism. Though many Impressionists were just as famous as Monet, or even more so, all were compared to him.

Edgar Degas was also born in Paris, France in 1834, just a few years before Monet. He started his career in Italy where he studied the masters of the Renaissance. He at first wanted to follow suit with the past and paint historical scenes, but something in him begged him to be more modern. In Paris, Degas met Édouard Manet, the same painter who influenced Claude Monet. After seeing the realism of the Impressionists, he knew he had found the modern style he was looking for. Though Degas liked the realism of Impressionism, he didn’t like unfinished it looked. As he was trained in the classic style he liked to plan out his paintings and work in a studio. Though he and Monet spent time together in Paris and displayed works at the same shows, they were not good friends. Though there were few who were good friends with Degas. He also took his work to seriously to have a family.

What he did excel in was blending his classic techniques with the realism of the impressionists. Realism to the point that some people in the painting were literally cut in half, like in a photo. Degas also specialized in mood and movement. He displayed movement at the racetrack and the ballet. Also unique to Degas was his scene selection, rather than paint the ballerinas on stage he would paint them during rehearsal, standing around. And with the horses he painted the shuffling around instead of on the racetrack. The mood in his paintings such as in L’Absinthe perhaps represented his own isolation. Though he was famous and well paid in his lifetime his personal life was not so sweet. He struggled with his eyesight in later years and appeared to be miserable. He died in 1917 in Paris.

Our next artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was also born in France, just one year after Monet. And like the others he was also influenced by Édouard Manet and followed the trend of the Impressionists. Unique to Renoir was his magnificent ability to paint “soft”. He like Degas blended the techniques of the renaissance with the realism of the Impressionists. But instead of finding his subjects on the race track he found his subjects in the streets and cafés of Paris. For that the French loved him. In Paris, in the 1860s, Renoir met Claude Monet. Sometimes painting side by side the two artists experimented with outdoor painting and the real color of shadows (which you will find aren’t always brown or black).

Remember the show where an art critic made fun of Monet’s painting? It was at that show that Renoir presented six paintings in 1874. That was the beginning of Renoir’s fame. In 1890 Renoir married one of his models. And later enjoyed painting his wife and children. One of the many paintings of his children is Girls at the Piano (1892). He even painted a painting of Monet standing outdoors at an easel in a garden. Unfortunately as he aged he developed a serious case of rheumatoid arthritis. For the last twenty years of his life he was wheelchair bound and had crippled hands. So to accommodate for his failing posture he created a rolling canvas that could move to where he needed it. Renoir got to see his works hanging in the Louvre next to the to the masters that he admired and learned from. He died in 1919 in France.

The last artist we will be looking at today was Mary Cassat. She was born in the United States, in 1844. Her family took her on a trip to Europe when she was eleven to the Paris World Fair. There she was exposed to the works of Edgar Degas. Never would she imagine she would be one of the few friends that Degas had. Back in the United states she would attend art school, only to find it disappointing. There was a great stigma associated with being a female artist at the time. So she went to Europe, where she found more opportunity, but was considered as an outsider. She would spend most of her career overcoming the obstacle of being a American female artist. When she found out about Impressionism she was lured in like Degas and Renoir. As time passed she became one of the two women who ever displayed works with the famous French Impressionists. Her specialty would be the theme of mothers and children in everyday life. In her older age she struggled with diseases and nearly went blind. This caused her to stop painting in 1914. However she went back to the United States to fight for women’s suffrage. She died in 1926.

Grade 8 History Lesson 40

The Worldwide Fight for Women’s Suffrage

19th and 20th Centuries

     In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote a letter to her husband, John Adams. (a leader in the American Revolution and later a president). It reminded him that at that point in history women had no right to vote and therefore had no voice in the government. The word suffrage means the right to vote. The fight for women’s suffrage lasted through the 19th century and into the 20th century. So I will focus on the 19th century first.

The earliest women were allowed to vote in the united states was in 1787 in New Jersey. However for “political reasons” they lost that right in 1807. In the late 1700s women in Great Britain, France, and Sweden were speaking out for women’s rights. However the women on Pitcairn Island would have the earliest victory in 1838. Meanwhile the women in Great Britain and the United States stepped up their campaigns. The women who fought for voting rights were called “suffragists”. The women in Great Britain chose purple, white, and green to symbolize their cause. The purple represented dignity, the white represented purity, and the green represented hope. The women in America chose yellow but changed it to purple, white, and gold to make tricolor flags and banners to promote suffrage.

Launching their campaign in 1840 British suffragists fought for their rights alongside “Chartists” (a group demanding reform in the British Parliament.) While American suffragists gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, for the first convention in the Western World dedicated to women’s rights. The leaders of the Seneca Falls event, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton even invited Fredrick Douglass to join the debate on women. Having previously been a slave he was sympathetic to the cry of women for better treatment. So Douglass joined 31 men, and 68 women in signing the “Declaration of Sentiments”. Which was basically the Declaration of Independence but instead of saying all men were created equal it said all men and women were created equal. Despite such clever wording, men in power didn’t take it seriously. Meanwhile in Britain, suffragists were experiencing setback after setback. This was because the suffrage movement fractured and splintered into numerous groups. At one time there were 17 suffrage groups in Great Britain.

In contrast, the American movement started to pick up steam in 1851 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth was good with words while Susan was a good organizer. So together they made a good team. However progress slowed down during the civil war because many women went to care for wounded soldiers. After the civil war Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony also hoped that African Americans would earn the right to vote alongside women. However when the Fourteenth Amendment came it allowed all male citizens of the united states the right to vote. When the Fifteenth Amendment came it announced that all man could vote regardless of their race, color, or previous condition of servitude. This amendment created a deep rift between American suffragists. With one side believing that this amendment would create a setback for all women, the other side believing that believing it would help the cause. Each group formed their own association in 1869. And each group continued to argue even after the Fifteenth Amendment was adopted in 1870. After 20 years of arguing both groups finally rejoin together in 1890.

Besides the women in the United States and Great Britain, the women in the southern hemisphere were way ahead of their counterparts. With the women in New Zealand gaining equal rights to men in 1893. Meanwhile the fight in Australia being more involved, going door to door trying to get 30,000 signatures on what was named the “monster petition”. The name was accurate because it took three people three hours to unroll the monster petition and when it was rolled out it was 853 feet from end to end. It all paid off in the end because they were granted the right to vote and the right to run for office.

Now onto the twentieth century, when the fight to vote started to get really ugly. It was in the twentieth century that a woman named Emmeline Pankhurst saw that the suffrage movement was going nowhere. So she formed the Women’s Social and Political Union with the slogan “Deeds not words!” Well while doing something is better than saying something. However what she meant by doing was destroying buildings mailboxes, knocking helmets off of police officers and chaining themselves to park railings. Basically her idea was to break laws to have new laws made. Honorable cause but dishonorable ways. In doing so they earned themselves the name of suffragettes. Obviously these deeds earned them a trip to prison but they didn’t stop. They went on hunger strikes, only to be painfully force fed by having a rubber tube inserted down their throats. In America Susan B. Anthony had petitioned congress for 37 years and seen no results. She was laughed at even in her 80s, she had to pass the baton. And one of the many to pick it up was Alice Paul.

She had studied in London and learned about the methods of the militant British suffragettes. She brang her experience back to the United States and with the help of Lucy Burns a fiery Irish American she organized a parade. With vast amounts of women marching on Washington D.C. before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. However there was a division between the suffragists over how militant the American Movement had become. Carrie Chapman Catt organized women to work state by state instead of aggressively fighting on a federal level. However World War I was just around the corner. The Women used WWI as an opportunity to demonstrate their worth in the workplace. Picketers made banners day and night and there appeared to be progress in the movement. However things took a fierce turn when picketers made a banner calling President Wilson a Kaiser (which is German for emperor). They called him this because he supported democracy for the German people but was ignoring the voting rights of 20 million American women at home. In my opinion maybe the American president should care about the American people first. This banner provoked many riots that led to the arrests of thousands of women.

In 1917 Communists were taking control of Russia. And their leader Vladimir Lenin, wanted women to work outside the home to build a more industrial nation. So he didn’t fight women over voting rights at all. They were granted their voting rights in 1917. Though the women only had one party to vote for, the Communist party. This was considered progress by the women. Back in Britain, British suffragists finally won the right to vote in 1918. However this only fueled public outrage in American where ordinary women, grandmother, and sisters were being put in jail. However all did not go to waste as President Woodrow Wilson was practically forced to support women’s suffrage in 1918. And finally in 1919 a majority of the states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. In Canada in 1927, the Famous Five joined together to ask the Supreme Court to define the word “person” in the constitution. Basically asking the question is a woman a person. Believe or not the supreme court said no. Not only do I think they discriminated against the women. I can’t believe that these guys run the supreme court, if they can’t tell that a woman is a person. However in 1929 the Famous Five after two years, convinced the dummies in the supreme court that women are people. Women in South America were allowed to vote in the 1930s. France held out until 1944. Africa allowed most women to vote by 1960. The women of Switzerland were allowed to vote in 1971. Kuwait only recently gave suffrage to women in 1007. However the women of Saudi Arabia are still waiting for the right to vote in a male dominated society. As you can see this issue is a really recent issue.

Grade 8 History Lesson 39

Emperor Meiji of Japan


     I’m just going to catch up on Japanese history because it is sort of crucial to this lesson. Six hundred and sixty years before Christ, Japan was being ruled by Jimmu Tenno. Jimmu Tenno was according to myth descended from a sun goddess and was believed to be divine in nature. In the 500s the Yamato family gained control of all the clans in Japan. One of their members, Prince Shotoku, spread Buddhism to the nations and was labeled the “founder of Japanese civilization.” After Shotoku, Buddhism was blended with the ancient Japanese religion of Shinto. Shinto is a religion exclusive to the Japanese.

In 1192 Minamoto Yorimoto made great changes in Japan by naming himself the first Shogun General. He usurped the authority of the emperor. However he kept the emperor on the throne as a figure head. And to protect the shogun an elite class of soldiers were created called the samurai. This arrangement would span the next major era in the history of Japan, the era of Tokugawa. It was under Tokugawa Ieyasu that Japan was closed to the rest of the world. He did this by closing off all the ports and not allowing anybody to come or leave. He did this in the 1600s. And in 1614 he made it illegal to practice or promote Christianity. As he viewed Christianity as a threat to Japanese tradition. However with time and efforts from other countries Japan opened its doors to the world again.

The Shogun style rule lasted 700 years until 1868. Which brings us to this lesson. A group of 180 feudal lords, called daimyos, wished to make drastic changes in the government of Japan. The daimyos gathered against the royal family in 1867 and forced the shogun to resign. Then on January 4, 1868 full authority was restored to the emperor. This emperor was 16 year old Mutsuhito, the given name of Emperor Meiji. Unlike previous emperors, Mutsuhito came out of the shadows of his palace home and met face to face with the Japanese public. Although he didn’t speak to the public often he was visible. To help secure the emperor’s position the imperial forces of Mutsuhito defeated the Tokugawa army. The Mikado, as a Japanese emperor is called, had been no more than a figure head for no more than 200 years. To mark the change, Mutsuhito gave himself the title of Emperor Meiji, meaning “enlightened rule.”

Young and different from his predecessors, Emperor Meiji looked to the west for ideas on improving Japan. He and his feudal lords invited experts from around the world to give advice on banking, industry, farming, and military power. They promoted western dress, western customs, and the European calendar. They also broke up centuries of religious oppression and allowed the practice of Christianity. Many other things were done including the vast improvement of schools all over Japan, the building of steamships, a telegraph system, and a national railroad. To top everything else off he moved the capital of Japan to Edo and renamed it Tokyo. In government affairs he borrowed ideas from Prussia to draft a constitution. He created a two chamber congress like England and the United states. And when it came to law he based most of his laws off the Napoleonic code. Similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights, civil rights were largely upgraded with the granting of free speech, free press, free assembly, and free worship. The emperor’s desire was to move out of a medieval feudal system and into an industrial and military power strong enough to stand against foreigners that might wish to take over the country.

Unfortunately this meant stripping the samurai from the face of the earth. You see, the samurai held on to 700 years of Japanese tradition. And they would resist change and imperial rule to the point of death and consider it an honor to do so. Technically speaking it was impossible to advance his nation without unraveling centuries of samurai practice. As described by William Durant who wrote of this warrior class: They despised all material enterprise and gain, and refused to lend, borrow or count money; they seldom broke a promise, and they risked their lives readily for anyone who appealed to them for just aid. They made a principle of hard and frugal living; they limited themselves to one meal a day. . . . They bore all suffering silently, and suppressed every display of their emotion; their women were taught to rejoice when informed that their husbands had been killed on the battlefield. They recognized no obligation except to that of loyalty to their superiors; this was, in their code, a higher law than parental or filial love.

In the end, Emperor Meiji allowed his imperial troops to battle the samurai. Many died in battle or by their own swords. An unknown number were humiliated by having their traditional topknots cut from their heads and their swords taken away. However modern Emperor Meiji was, he held on the ancient idea that he was divine. If you remember the start of the lesson? Jimmu Tenno was according myth a descendant of a sun goddess. Well Emperor Meiji would claim the same divine nature. School children were taught that he was the 122nd descendant of Jimmu Tenno. So every decree the emperor put out was considered the will of a god.

Emperor Meiji served Japan for almost 46 years. Though he was somewhat a pacifist, near the end of his life the “new” Japan was put to the test. Japan had declared war against Russia over the waterways near Korea. With complete confidence, the Japanese navy under Admiral Togo Heihachiro took on the fleets of Russia. Against the odds the small islands of Japan managed to take out 34 out of the 37 Russian warships, kill 4,830 Russian crewmen, and capture almost 6,000. The Japanese only lost 110 men, three cruisers, and three torpedo boats. No one especially Russia dreamed that the Japanese had the ingenuity or the audacity to fight the way they did.

Grade 8 Shop Assignment #14 Pantograph

Today I finished my Pantograph.P1120098.JPG     The way the I have my pantograph set up it magnifys the image copies by 1.5. P1120099     If they don’t look that similar that’s because I still have to move it myself. And this was my first time using it. This project was actually pretty straight forward and I didn’t have much trouble with it.