Northern Italian or French
Etched and partially blackened steel; leather (replaced)
Weight: 63 lb. (28.58 kg) Height (top edge of comb to bottom edge of tassets): 40 11/16 inches (103.4 cm) Other (girth at waist :exterior...about): 38 9/16 inches (98 cm) Width (across midpoints of shoulders): 24 inches, 2 feet (61 x 61 cm) Width (across outer midpoint of couter: arms relaxed & don't touch cuir): 31 7/8 inches (81 cm) Length (down center of tasset, from waist to midpoint of poleyn): 24 3/16 inches (61.5 cm) Depth (helmet, from brim across to level of rear neck plate): 14 9/16 inches (37 cm) Width (backplate across the waist ... about): 12 13/16 inches (32.5 cm)
Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977
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Symbols are all around us. They are a natural part of our language and of the objects of our culture. In fact, our ability to communicate would be limited without the use of symbols. A Symbol is a person, place, or object that represents something beyond itself. Symbols possess standard interpretations, which are generally accepted by a culture, and also personal interpretations, which vary from one person to the next. These interpretations allow us to use symbols to examine other cultures and other viewpoints.
Grade LevelFor grades 4–7
Common Core Academic Standards: (Language Arts)
- Reading Standards for Literature
- Craft and Structure #4
- Language Standards 6-12
- Demonstrate understanding of figurative language #5
Art Images Required(A Note about images: Clicking on the title of a Philadelphia Museum of Art image will link you to that image on the Philadelphia Museum of Art website. Clicking on a Picturing America image will link you to the Picturing America website. Once there, enter the Gallery and go to the image number given in parenthesis below. Images are also available in ARTstor, as indicated by the ARTstor search phrase. Typing that phrase in the search box on the ARTstor website will link you to the image.)
- Cuirassier Armor, artist/maker unknown
ARTstor Search: 1977-167-36
- Chest over Drawers, artist/maker unknown
ARTstor Search: 1945-12-1
- Embroidered Picture, by Sarah Montgomery Thompson
ARTstor Search: 1894-274
- Display the Museum’s object page for the Cuirassier Armor. Select the third of the five images provided (the front chest plate). (You may also explore the Audio Stop and the Teacher Resources for this object.) If using ARTstor’s Offline Image Viewer (OIV), zoom in on the chest plate. Ask the class: What image do you see on the chest plate? Why would someone put a lion’s head on a suit of armor? What traits does this person want associated with the lion’s head? (Bravery, courage, ferociousness, etc.) These traits reveal a standard interpretation for the symbol of a lion’s head.
- Discuss: What other symbols might be appropriate for a suit of armor? (Dragon, bear, panther, snake, Christian cross, Islamic crescent, political donkey or elephant, etc.) What would these symbols tell us about the owner of the armor? Analyze which class responses are standard interpretations and which are personal interpretations.
- Have the students write or discuss responses to these questions: What is the purpose of symbols? If you were designing your own suit of armor, what symbols would you want to include and why?
- Display the Museum’s object page for the Chest over Drawers. (Feel free to explore the Audio Stop.) What symbols does the class see here? What interpretations can the students make from these symbols? (These symbols are less common, so the class should refer to the Teacher Resources from the website to answer the question.) Record their responses on the board.
- What do these symbols tell us about the woman who owned this chest and her community? What other symbols might you use if you were decorating a marriage chest? What symbols would express your heritage or the community in which you live?
- What other kinds of symbols can you think of? What symbols do you see on the Internet? In Facebook? What are emoticons? How do these other symbols help us communicate with each other? What do they say about us?
- Have students create a Symbol Scrapbook. They can scan magazines for symbols, or write brief descriptions of symbols they see from day-to-day. Have students select a few of the symbols from their scrapbooks and write about the interpretation of those symbols.
- Write a profile of the person who owned either the Cuirassier Armor or the Chest over Drawers. Their profiles will be imaginary, but should be based on the symbols found (and interpreted) on the two works.
EnrichmentExamine Embroidered Picture, by Sarah Montgomery Thompson for its use of symbols to tell a visual story about George Washington. Have students look at the embroidery and describe what they think is happening. Then ask students to explore the symbols in the embroidery, listing as many as they can find and discussing the significance of each. How do the symbols add to the story of George Washington? Let students refer to the Teacher Resources from the Website to help identify all the symbols.
For more information, please contact Education: School & Teacher Programs by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .