Botticelli to Van Gogh

Learning Resource

A painting of a seated woman holding an infant in her lap as two children climb around her shoulders, they are accompanied by a tropical parrot.

Sir Joshua Reynolds
Lady Cockburn and her three eldest sons


Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons. 1773. © The National Gallery, London. Bequeathed by Alfred Beit, 1906

Look at all the elements and action in Reynolds’ busy painting of Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons. Write a list of everything you can see.

Think about how Reynolds has turned a family portrait into one of grandeur. Within the scene, there is a macaw parrot. Where do these parrots come from? How did it come to be in England in the late 18th century?

Create a painting where you place an ordinary domestic object (for example, a cup and saucer) next to an object or an animal from a different country and culture. How does each subject have an impact on the other?

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