American Colonial Art Cards

We have created a set of printable American Colonial Art Cards to help your kids learn about this period in art history.

Colonial Art card set

By about 1760 America began to produce fine artists.  Before that Americans were too busy trying to survive to have time for the finer things.  The earliest American artist to gain the notice of the European art market was John Singleton Copley.  He painted this well known portrait of Paul Revere.

This painting was commissioned by Revere who was a successful silversmith and prominent citizen of Boston by 1768, the date of the painting.

Copley, like other American artists, was self taught.  But Copley was exceptionally talented and practiced his drawing skills constantly and so his art rises far above the folk painters of his day.  In 1766 Copley exhibited one of his paintings in England and gained fame.  After that Copley helped support and train other young American artists, many of whom went on to study in England and Europe using the great art of the masters and teachers to further their skills.

This was the painting Copley exhibited in London in 1765 hoping to gain notice and thereby some rich European commissions. It worked. Copley’s painting shows off his technical skills, draftsmanship, mastery of composition and color, and creativity.  The glass of water reflected in the table, the fur on the squirrel, the tiny links of the chain, the boy’s hair and skin, and the satiny folds of the drapery are all executed brilliantly.

The fashion in Europe at this time was for grand history paintings.  In America the demand was different because America had no wealth upper class patrons, rich churches, or government sponsored art.  Americans had an increasingly well to do middle class and they wanted pictures of themselves to hang on their walls.  And so most of the art in America before 1800 was portraits.

Printable American Colonial Art Cards

You can learn more about American Colonial Art and artists with these American Colonial Art Cards.

Art Cards setsPrint the cards and cut them out along the solid lines.

You can use the cards as a matching game with the images in one group and the descriptions in the other.  The kids can choose a card from each group, read the description, and see if they match. In the process they’re learning the name of the piece, the artist, and a little about the painting.

They can also be used as flash cards.  Hold up an image card and see if the kids can remember the name of the piece, the artist, details about the painting, or all three.  You can give out points for correct answers if you like.

On each card a date, or approximate date, of when the piece was done is included.  Arrange the cards in chronological order.  Can you see a progression of technique, style, or subject matter?  Can you arrange the cards in other ways according to different categories?

After the kids are familiar with these pieces, they can look up the artists online or in art books and see if they can recognize his style in other paintings.

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