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Does Art Influence Art? An Exploration of a 17th Century Painting

Called a Caravaggisti, Stomer was influenced by the art of Italian painter Caravaggio. In this lesson, compare Stomer´s The Judgment of Solomon to paintings by Caravaggio and have students consider how and why people, time, and place may potentially influence an artist and works of art.

Lesson Plan Sections: 

The Lesson Plan

A detailed lesson plan, written by area teachers.

1.  Examine a painting by 17th century Italian artist Caravaggio.

Without sharing Caravaggio´s influence on Stomer and The Judgment of Solomon, have students examine a painting or two by Caravaggio.  Some examples include: The Supper at Emmaus, c. 1600-01 or Judith Beheading Holofernes, c. 1598.  As a class, discuss:

  • How would you describe Caravaggio´s style?

  • Why do you think Caravaggio was one of the premiere artists of his time?

2.  Examine and compare to Stomer´s The Judgment of Solomon.

As a class, discuss:

  • How would you describe Stomer´s style?
Individually or as a class have students compare The Judgment of Solomonto a painting by Caravaggio.  Consider:

  • Subject matter of each work of art

  • The sense of emotion and use of facial expression and gesture

  • The use of light and drama
As a class, view Explore the Art in the Learn About the Art section.

3.  Analyze Stomer´s The Judgment of Solomon.
Have students make a quick sketch of The Judgment of Solomon and identify and label the figures.  Discuss:

  • How did the artist help you identify the main characters of the story?  How did he treat the secondary characters?

  • How does Stomer portray Solomon?  Describe his physical appearance.  In your opinion does Solomon appear to be the good and wise king?

  • How was Solomon´s plan to determine who the true mother of the remaining child a clever ploy?  Which is the true mother?  Explain.

4.  Consider the potential influences. 
Have students choose a prominent figure that lived around and during the time as Stomer and research the following:  country of residence, birth and death dates, important achievements, breakthroughs, or inventions. 

Rulers: Charles I, Louis XIV, Marie d´Medici, Peter the Great, Philip IV.  Thinkers and Scientists: Nicolas Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Galileo Galileii, Johannes Kepler, John Locke, Martin Luther, Isaac Newton.  Painters:  Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez, Georges de la Tour, Nicolas Poussin, Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Caravaggio, Jan Vermeer.  Writers:  John Milton, William Shakespeare

Working in small groups, or individually, have students research mini-biographies.  Be sure students have created biographies on a variety of people.

5.  Share mini-biographies

Have students share their findings with the class and return to the painting, The Judgment of Solomon

  • Considering the mini-biographies, are there any trends that reveal the tastes and interests of the time?

  • How did the happenings in the 17th century mirror, reflect, or affect Stomer´s choice of subject matter and style?

  • Do you think The Judgment of Solomon is entrenched in the time and place in which it was made?  Explain.


Discuss how an artist or work of art may be influenced by people, place, or time period. Have students choose a painting by Caravaggio or a favorite previously studied work of art and discuss its context and potential influences. How does this work of art compare to Stomer´s painting in terms of how the subject matter and style may have been influenced by other sources?

Learn about the Art Handouts for Lesson Plan