Children will examine the images of Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home, hearing briefly what each is about. They will then brainstorm a story about the image with the teacher and act out the scenario they’ve imagined.
Intended Age GroupEarly childhood (ages 3-5)
Length of LessonOne 30 minute lesson
Standards AreaLanguage Arts
Students will be able to:
- identify errors in a statement by examining details in Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home; and
- use their imaginations to inspire movement and describe changes in a scene.
- Preparation: Read the “Details” information from About the Art.
- Warm-up: Have the children participate in an imaginary tea party, making, pouring, and sipping tea. They can sit in small groups, or you can sit around tables in one large party. Have them act suave and sophisticated, really hamming it up to help students get into their roles.
- Tell the children you are going to a different type of party now and show Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home.
- As you read the sentences below, ask the children to look at the screen and tell you what’s wrong:
- Four women are playing cards
- There are five dogs at the party
- None of the women are wearing any green
- Everyone is standing
- None of the men are wearing hats
- Ask the children to pretend they are the wind and to move around the room like different types of wind (i.e. soft, strong, loud, quiet).
- Have them describe what might happen at the garden party if a soft wind came through. A strong wind? Loud wind? Quiet wind?
- Then have them imagine it suddenly started raining and act out how the people in the screen might respond.
- About the Art section on Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home
- Color copies of the image for students to share, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen
- Visual Arts
- Observe and Learn to Comprehend
- Relate and Connect to Transfer
- Language Arts
- Oral Expression and Listening
- Research and Reasoning
- Writing and Composition
- Reading for All Purposes
21st Century Skills
- Critical Thinking & Reasoning
- Information Literacy
About the Art
Who Made It?
Although we do not know the name of the artist(s) who created this screen, we do know that it was made in Mexico City sometime between 1720 and 1730. During this time, Mexico was part of the area governed by Spain in the New World. The Spanish Colonial period in Latin America lasted for 300 years, from 1521 to 1821. By 1598, the Spanish empire in the Americas spread from present-day southern Colorado to the tip of South America (excluding Brazil). The resulting culture and art is a combination of the European and indigenous cultures. Spanish Colonial artists were also greatly influenced by Asian art, which they encountered through trade.
What Inspired It?
Folding screens or “Biombos” (bee-ohm-bows) were used in homes to divide spaces, block drafts, and provide privacy. The folding screen form was invented in China, perfected in Japan, and introduced to the Western world through trade in the late 1500s. By the early 1700s, a new genre of screen was invented in Mexico City. Partially derived from a fashion for pastoral paintings in Europe, screen painters began to depict scenes of upper and middle class people enjoying a leisurely afternoon on the garden terrace of a country home. There are only about a dozen screens like this known today, and all were made in Mexico City in the 1700s. These screens provide a glimpse into upper-class life and recreation in Mexico in the 1700s, during the season of summer parties. As is the case with most garden party screens, the people on the left appear more richly or more formally dressed than those on the right. The precise social reason for this is still unknown. It may indicate that both upper and middle class people participated in these festivities. Or it may represent the upper class owners of the summer home and their guests on the left, and the servants or employees, also participating in the festivities, on the right.
On the far left, men and women dressed in party clothes sit around a table playing cards. The coins and small beans on the table indicate that they are gambling. The cards they use are an older design—the clubs are actual wooden clubs, the spades are daggers, the hearts are a cup or chalice, and the diamonds are gold coins.
The woman on the right side of the table holds a cigarette in her right hand, and the man behind her holds what appears to be a cigar. Tobacco was a New World product and was unknown in Europe before contact with the Americas. In Europe, usually only men smoked tobacco, but in the Americas it was completely acceptable for women of all classes to smoke.
On the right side of the screen a woman sings and plays a distinctive Mexican guitar. The man next to her is playing a violin or fiddle while another woman appears to sing.
Both women in the band wear the distinctive Mexican striped rebozo, or rectangular shawl, which is still made in Mexico today. The woman with the guitar also wears a paňuelo, a triangular scarf tied around her neck. This type of scarf was worn by both men and women in Mexico and eventually evolved into the cotton bandanna worn by cowboys.
The clothing is faithful to the era. All of the women wear full skirts, fitted bodices, elbow-length sleeves, and lace ruffles at the cuffs and necklines. The also wear elaborate jewelry made from gold, pearls, and other stones. The men on the screen all wear knee breeches, stockings, white shirts, and coats of the period. The men also wear powdered white wigs.
Many of the women wear fake beauty marks called chiqueadores. The marks are made from black velvet or tortoiseshell and placed on the women’s temples. Fake beauty marks were very fashionable among women in Europe and the Americas at this time.