Gérome attributed the success of his animal paintings to his early studies at the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. The soft handling and the unemphatic drawing in this work suggest that it was painted in the 1880s, when Gérome is said to have done a series depicting wild animals.
Reproduction of Eugene Delacroix’s Tiger and Lion. See also Olga's Gallery. Delacroix frequently went with his friend, the animal sculptor Barye, to see the big game in the Jardin des Plantes (like a zoo)
Gather materials for drawing. Find or record lullabies to play before and during the drawing activity.
THINGS TO TALK ABOUT
Place the reproductions side-by-side. Invite children to name or describe the things that are the same in both paintings:
How are these two paintings alike?
Which painting shows more tigers?
In which painting are the tigers closer to us?
Are the cubs in this painting by Gérôme older or younger than the young tiger in Delacroix’s painting? How can you tell?
What is the young tiger in Delacroix’s painting doing?
Does the mother tiger in Gérôme’s painting have a different expression on her face?
What is this mother doing?
Do the cubs seem comfortable, even though they are sleeping on hard ground?
Do all tigers live in such dark and rocky places? (Explain to the children that the artists who painted these two pictures both lived in France, and both saw tigers at Jardin des Plantes - like a zoo - where tigers were housed in rough landscapes like these.)
THINGS TO DO
Draw children’s attention to the painting by Gérôme, and the positions of the sleeping cubs nestled against their mothers. Ask children to reflect upon similarities between their own bedtime routines and those that sleepy animals enjoy:
Do mother tigers sing lullabies?
Do mother or father or grandparent tigers read bedtime stories to cubs?
Do young tigers have to brush their teeth? Put on their pajamas?
Who helps you to get ready for sleep?
What do you need to feel cozy and safe?
How do you look when you are sleeping? (Encourage children to model sleeping poses for one another.)
Play lullabies as children draw themselves getting ready for sleep. Provide playdough for additional explorations of sleeping poses.
MORE THINGS TO DO
EXPLORE THE IDEA OF FAMILY
Ask children to look again at the two reproductions. Do the young tigers seem to feel safe and protected because they are with their families? Ask the children to list things members of their families do together, such as eat, relax, go to the park, shop for food, and so on. Do animals do some of these things too? Do they do some things differently than human families would?
Invite children to compose a story about the family of tigers Gérôme painted. What did the cubs do all day that made them so tired? Display the completed story or a variety of shorter responses next to the reproduction.
Encourage children to draw animal families. Very young children may represent the idea of family simply by drawing several animals on the same page. Challenge older children to draw animal families in settings such as their home or engaged in activities.
Gather several stuffed animals of the same species – monkeys, rabbits, cats, mice, and so on – to facilitate categorization and informal discussions of family resemblance.
Gather objects which feel like surfaces represented in Gérôme’s painting that are small enough to be held in children’s hands: rough and smooth pebbles, fur, cotton balls, a pocket mirror, sandpaper, and a bit of Felt, for example. Ask the children to find a part of the painting that would feel like the object in their hands. Challenge them to identify parts of the painting that look hard and parts that look soft.
Draw children’s attention to the shape at the bottom of Gérôme’s painting. What is this? Can we tell what it might be if we turn the reproduction upside down? Challenge children to locate a tiger’s nose and chin inside this shape, and to offer explanations for this mysterious appearance. Encourage children to explore reflections in puddles and windows. Discuss the distortion that makes these reflections different from mirror images. Provide aluminum foil and/or mirrors and invite children to use dolls or cut out figures to learn more about reflections.
PLAY WITH LIGHT SOURCES
Ask children to look again at the reproduction of Gérôme’s painting. What time of day do they think it is in the world of this painting? How can they tell? Where is the lightest part of the painting ? The darkest ? Provide flashlights, cardboard boxes, and an assortment of small toys, blocks, animal figurines, and/or action figures. Challenge children to create a scene inside the box and to attempt to illuminate it in different ways. Suggest that they try to highlight the objects at the front of the scene, or on one side, or the back, while leaving the rest of the objects in shadow.
WATCH TIGERS IN MOTION
Videotape short sequences of animals in motion from nature programs on television, or contact your local librarian for help in selecting films which show tigers moving through the jungle. Children who have the opportunity to study and review short segments of film showing tigers in motion will be more fully prepared for dramatic play.
MOVE LIKE TIGERS
With the children’s help, compile a list of movements tigers make when they are resting, playing, or hunting. Encourage children to move like tigers into their « caves » at nap time, to lay down like tigers, yawn, stretch, and so forth.
CREATE ENVIRONMENTS FOR TIGERS
Talk to the children about zoos which attempt to recreate natural habitats for the animals they house, many of whom are used to very different kinds of weather and land. Assign the task of designing an environment that would be comfortable for tigers who were coming to live in a zoo. Discuss the conditions that would be necessary in such an environment. Provide Air-Dry Clay or playdough, and help children collect additional materials such as pebbles, twigs, small plants, and so on. Encourage children to use clay to model tigers to live in the environment they create.