Allegories (Visual) - Ackland Art Museum

Allegories (Visual)
Grades/Level: 6-8
Subject: Social Studies
● The students will be able to compare and contrast representations
of allegorical figures.
● The students will use art as a primary source to interpret
historical/cultural perspectives.
Common Core Standards:
ELA: RH.1, RH.2
NC Social Studies Essential Standards: C.1, H.1
● Allegorical figures (printed, or
via computer access)
● Graphic organizer
● Image of Lady Liberty
Time Frame:
1- 45 minute block for lesson
Extra time may be required,
depending on demands of
presentation format (poster,
PowerPoint, etc.)
Show the image of Lady Liberty. Ask the class to discuss who she is and
what she represents. Explain that Lady Liberty is an allegorical figure,
designed to represent a human quality or belief. Tell students that artists
often use allegories to send a message.
Brainstorm a list of human values or beliefs that students think are
important enough to deserve an allegory. Ask students to explain their
rationale for including certain traits on the list.
Tell students that allegorical figures are made to represent values that are
important to the artist or the culture of the artist. Some values are
important enough that they have been represented by many artists. While
these representations are all different, there are typically some common
elements that allow the public to recognize each value.
Active Engagement:
Break students into small groups. Assign each group a set of allegorical
figures*. You may use the graphic organizer to help them organize their
thinking. Once they have completed their “research”, they should create
some type of presentation to share their work: poster, PowerPoint, Prezi,
etc. The student task reads as below:
Task: You will work as a group of art historians focusing on a set of prints
to learn more about the culture that created them. Examine the images
carefully to identify the symbols that would allow you to identify similar,
previously unidentified images. Determine the significance of the image to
the unknown culture. What do these images tell us about the culture that
created them?
*The allegorical figures can be printed from this file. For teacher
reference: Fortune/Luck: pages 2-6, Melancholy: pages 7-11, Fortitude:
pages 12-17, Justice: pages 17-23, Charity: pages 24-27, Luxuria: page
28, Avaricia: pages 29-31, Faith: pages 32-36, Hope: pages 37-42,
Vanity: pages 43-45, Knowledge: pages 46-48.
Please preview images/allegories before using to find the images that
would work best with your group of students.
Have each group present their work to the class. Focus the conversation
on why these values were selected for multiple images. Ask: What do
these images tell us about the culture that created them?
Further discussion: Did your original list of values/beliefs match up with
any of the images we examined? Why do you think that did or did not
Have students create a modern allegorical figure. Their figure should
represent a value that is (or should be) important for our current culture.
Students should draw the figure and write a paragraph describing the
symbols and importance of the figure.