Author: Christine Pilling, PS 91 Queens

Lesson: After observing and discussing Rembrandt’s etching, View

Preview of Amsterdam, students are asked to create written responses integrating what they have learned, especially about the topic of commerce and trade in seventeenth-century Holland.

Standards: Discipline-Based Art Education

Grades: Elementary Level

Subjects: Art History, Social Studies, Language Arts

Materials: light-colored construction paper, pastels, pencils, semantic map, reproductions of View of Amsterdam and various self-portraits,various maps

WWW: http://www.rembrandthuis.nl/content_index.php?new_taalkeuze=en

View of Amsterdam


1. Introduce or review vocabulary words including:trade, export, import, commerce, chiaroscuro.

Refer students to the work View of Amsterdamand chiaroscuro evident in several examples of Rembrandt’s self-portraits.

2. Engage students by asking them to imagine it is 1640 and they are a child living in Amsterdam. Today is a special day because it is their birthday and their gift will be arriving via tall ship into the port of Amsterdam. They are to imagine they are standing on the edge of a bustling pier in anticipation of what is to come.

3. Teacher then refers to the etching, View of Amsterdam, and uses it to discuss industry and commerce of the 17th Century. Review items that may have been imported into the Amsterdam area. Review information about the Dutch West India Company.

4. Teacher will then ask students to visualize living at this timeusing organizing questions including:

Teacher then presents a semantic map. Students follow this by developing their own responses and sharing these responses with the class. Students peer edit and revise their responses.

Extensions Utilizing the Rembrandt style, have students create a self-portrait of themselves as a child during the17th century. Insure that details like clothing and hairstyles are authenticated by references to visuals of the 17th century.They should place their birthday gift in the portrait with them as a symbol of their social standing during the time.

Relate the study of trade to other cultures.

Review how, throughout history, other cultures have exchanged goods, discussing such topics and monetary sources and the impact of trade on lifestyle.

Assessments Review the use of portraiture in the 17th century. Have students explain why they chose a particular gift for them and provide opportunities to use world maps explaining how these gifts ultimately arrived in the port of Amsterdam.


 Semantic Map for My Birthday in Amsterdam in 1640 


Paragraph 1

Introduce yourself and the year.

Explain why today is special.

What are you hoping to receive?

How is it arriving in the city?

Where are you standing?

What are some sights and sounds around you?


Paragraph 2

Describe the tall ships as they approach.

What is the name of the trading company they represent?

What type of products will be on the ships?

Wht is its arrival important to you?


Paragraph 3

Describe how the products on board the ship might ht be transported to the stores and markets in Amsterdam?

What is the quickest way back to your home to tell your family that the ship has arrived?


 Paragraph 4

Describe the scene around you.

Who is there and what are they wearing?

How will you end your special day?


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