Reformation Art Cards

These printable Reformation Art Cards cover the 16th century in northern Europe and feature artists like Hans Holbein and Lucas Cranach the Elder.  The set includes ten paintings and their descriptions.  Best of all, it’s free.

Reformation Art Cards

Reformation art cards

A Little About Reformation Art

The Reformation changed art forever.  Previously the church had been the largest patron of the arts, but now with the austerity introduced by Protestantism, artists had to appeal to wealthy merchants, tradesmen, and their guilds to buy their art.  Besides, the new religious movements taught that all knowledge and all subjects bring glory to God, not just religious ones.  So during the Reformation we have our first secular art.

Religious art was not dead though. The Reformation artists still painted Madonnas and Bible scenes, but the halos were gone and the Bible stories focused on themes of forgiveness and God’s grace rather than the perfection of Christ and the saints.

In the south, Italy and Spain, Catholicism was alive and well.  These artists were commissioned by the church to double down on the ornateness, gold leafing, and opulence of their paintings in response to the northern artists.  This movement is called the counter-reformation and led to the ornate Baroque style of art and architecture.

How to use the Reformation Art Cards

Print the cards onto white card stock and cut them apart on the solid lines.  In the document they are paired with a description of the piece, a little history, a little about the techniques, or a little about the artist.  The pdf includes 6 pages of art cards and one page of instructions.  Click on the image below to go to the free pdf.


You can use the Reformation Art Cards as a matching game with the images on 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 artist online or in art books and see if they can recognize his style in other paintings.

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