Lesson V-10: The Castle Ceiling Head
This lesson is suitable for students in grades 7 through adult.
Wawel Castle, which is actually a large complex of buildings, stands near the center of Krakow, Poland, and it houses a wonderful collection of treasures: armor, tapestries, paintings and furniture. However, one of the most amazing parts of the castle is a large hall in the royal apartments, the Envoy Hall - sometimes called the Hall of the Deputies - and what makes it unique is its coffered ceiling.
Inside the frame of each coffer on the ceiling is a life-sized, sculpted head of a nobleman or noblewoman that stares down at all who enter the hall. It’s the only ceiling of its kind in the whole world. Why are the heads filling every frame of the ceiling, and who do these head represent? The lesson answers those questions before it proceeds with the art lesson.
In the art lesson, students will draw one of the heads on black paper and will “sculpt” it with a charcoal white pencil to make the drawing look three-dimensional. The process, therefore, starts with the shadows already in place, and invites us to add the highlights to the face.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson, plus 3 downloadable printouts: a warmup, a drawing of the head, and a picture of the head.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- A warm-up exercise (included with the lesson)
- A fine-tipped black magic marker
- An 11” x 8.5” or larger sheet of black construction paper
- A charcoal white pencil
- A kneaded eraser
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
Learn about the Battle of Vienna and why it was so important to Europe.
- Vienna 1683: Christian Europe Repels the Ottomans (#ad) tells the history of the battle and includes lots of art work.
- Polish Winged Hussar 1576–1775 (#ad) tells about the role of the winged soldiers in the battle.
- Enjoy pictures of Wawel Castle and the coffered ceiling in the Envoy Hall, sometimes called the Hall of the Deputies.
- Watch a video showing part of Wawel Castle.
- Read a summary of the history of Poland at these two sites.
- Read fun facts about Poland.
- Learn about famous Polish people.
- Learn the legend of Smok, the Wawel Dragon.
- Read legends, myths, and stories about the Polish flag and about its early rulers.
Read one of the following books to learn more about Poland during WWII:
- The Button War: A Tale of the Great War (#ad) by Avi
- Escape from Warsaw (#ad) by Ian Serraillier
- The Cats in Krasinski Square (#ad) by Karen Hesse
- Boy in the Striped Pajamas (#ad) by John Boyne
Read stories about Poland and Polish people:
- The Trumpeter of Krakow (#ad) by Eric P. Kelly
- Rodzina (#ad) by Karen Cushman
- Find more books about Poland and its people
- Listen to a Polish poem about a locomotive. How does it sound different from your language. Notice how the poet uses the language to sound like a steam locomotive. Read the poem in English.
Food: Learn to make pierogi, a popular Polish dish.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Introduction through guided drawing: 20 minutes
- Finishing the drawing: 60 minutes
- Total time: 80 minutes