The Art of Instruction

Illustration by Gottlieb von Koch

the art of instructionI wanted to share with you a wonderful book I bought some month ago on the internet: “The art of instruction — Vintage Educational Charts from the 19th and 20th Centuries”, introduction by Katrien Van der Schueren, published by Chronicle Books.

I was suddenly struck by the illustrations: there’s something magic about educational charts, and as, an illustrator, I’m terribly attracted by the simple meaningful lines and plain colours.

“There are objects from the past that can tell a story greater than what they were originally designed to do. One such relic is the illstrated wall chart from the late 1800s and 1900s, which was created as a practical classroom aid and is now treasured for its artistic merit. Profoundly elegant and beautiful, these charts are a window into the intersecting histories of education, science, and art.” — from the introduction by Katrien Van der Schueren.

Gottlieb von Koch

“It is not enough to teach designs in schools: we must still make the school itself a museum, a kind of sanctuary where there is beauty as well as science and virtue. Let the child live, surrounded by noble works that constantly speak to him, arousing his curiosity, raise his soul … Art must come to him from almost all sides as the air he breathes” — Charles Bigot, french commissioner responsible for the investigation of classroom decor and imagery — 1880s (from ” Le Nouveau Dictionaire de Pedagogie et d’instrucion Primaire”, Paris, Hachette, 1911)

Les Editions Rossignol

The black ones up above are by painter Gottlieb von Koch and college director Dr. Friedrich Quentell and teacher Heinrich Jung. Just above are French charts from Printer Les Éditions Rossignol, they rapidly grew into one of the most well-known European publishers of primary-school level charts throughout France and Belgium. Below are rare danish examples produced under de supervision of famed Danish botanist and pioneer in ecology Dr. Eugen Warming, charts typically used as at the univeristy level.

Dr. Eugene Warming

The value of these charts is incredible, and  I’m not surprised to see people actually “hunting” vintage charts through flea markets in every country!

About Serena Olivieri

Serena came back to Spain after a year travelling around Asia full of ideas and colours. She studied art history in Italy and worked around Spain for several exhibitions and museums, but after that trip she wanted to start making something! So she did. She's always illustrated and painted: her mother is an artisan in Italy. She would say she found her way of producing prototypes for further series of paper products by following the handmade trial and error way. To learn more about Serena, visit her website.

5 replies on “The Art of Instruction

  1. I’ve always loved educational charts, but originals were too expensive for me. When this book came out, I had to have it. Great blog!

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