Have you heard of The Master and His Apprentices? We were recently asked to review the digital version of their art history curriculum, The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective.
I appreciate art and love to look at it, but I struggle to know what to teach. This art history curriculum takes the guesswork out of it. It is a 36-week high school program with a suggested syllabus, questions, exams, and an answer key.
As mentioned on their website, this is meant to be an “introduction to visual history” not a “comprehensive art history resource.”
It can be a self-directed course, with minimal input from the teacher. That was a plus for me. I was able to assign the readings for the week and let the boys work at their pace.
- A 380-page Textbook full of 600+ pictures (most in color)
- A 116-page Teacher Guide including instructions for use, syllabus, weekly discussion question worksheets, exams, and an answer key
The book is split into six different sections with a total of 19 chapters.
- The Beginning – Introduction to Art and Creation
- Ancient Cultures – Ancient Near East, Egyptian, and Aegean art
- Classical Antiquity – Early Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art
- Middle Ages – Early Christian & Byzantine, Medieval & Islamic, Romanesque, and Gothic art
- Renaissance – Proto-Renaissance, Early Italian Renaissance, High Italian Renaissance, and Northern Renaissance art
- Baroque Era & Beyond – Baroque, Rococo to Today, and Global Highlights
Also included is an Appendix with essays mentioned in the text, a period chart, a complete timeline, locations of the pieces presented in the text, and an index.
We decided it would be best to print out the pages from the textbook and place them in a 3-ring binder. It was difficult to look at on the computer screen. Also, there are many instances in the book where another page is cited. It wasn’t easy to “hop” from one page to another in the pdf.
The boys read the assigned chapter throughout the week and then completed the question worksheet. They were then able to grade their own work with the provided answer key. We were able to get through the first four chapters of the textbook over a six-week period.
The first chapter was an introduction to art. The author outlines how God is THE master, and all other artists are His apprentices (thus the title of the book). We all have something we can learn from the beauty that God has made. There are many scriptures mentioned describing skills given to certain people. The author also says that the text will be looking at art in reference to the biblical timeline.
The second chapter covered the six days of Creation. The account from Genesis is provided in the text to lay the framework for each day of Creation, and then the text talks about what occurred on each specific day. There are many beautiful color photographs included.
Each of the remaining chapters in the textbook includes a map of the region at the time superimposed on a map of today. That way you can actually see where these ancient areas were in relation to the countries we know today.
Also included in each chapter is a timeline of important world events (and art), famous art for the area discussed, and major biblical events (and Christian history in later chapters) that occurred during the same timeframe.
Since this is an art history book from a Christian perspective, you won’t find nudity or inappropriate pictures. You will discover well-researched chapters describing the architecture, sculptures, mosaics, frescos, paintings, and other art forms of each era discussed.
You will read about the Colosseum in Rome, the original Seven Wonders of the World, the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, the Acropolis, pyramids, mummies, basilicas, crosses, manuscripts, and more.
My boys especially liked the section about the mummification process, seeing the scale model photograph of Solomon’s Temple, and all the different architectural elements. They liked how detailed the chapters were and that everything was explained well.
The boys thought there were too many questions on the worksheets and that there wasn’t enough room to write their answers. They also didn’t like that there wasn’t much “modern” art included. (However, they still haven’t read the entire book.)
To quote them directly: “Most of the art covered was pre-1500s art. There seemed to be very little modern art, which was a little disappointing because modern art is more relevant to our time. However, a good thing was that other books wouldn’t show very much ancient art, and so we get to learn more about ancient art then we would have otherwise.”
I think this is an excellent Christian art history curriculum for high school. The chapters are laid out well and include many different details, especially some that you might not find in a secular art textbook.
Many textbooks only focus on paintings and sculpture as art. This textbook includes architecture as well. So much can be learned from all aspects of art. The pictures in the pdf look much better than those that we printed out. I’m sure the hardbound textbook is gorgeous!
I liked having the provided questions and answer key. The questions were thorough and saved me a lot of time.
Having the digital version was difficult to navigate. It would have been challenging to read and try to flip to other pages, especially when the text referred to an incorrect page number. For example, page 25 mentions the Great Pyramid of Giza and cites page 64. But the Great Pyramid and the Giza complex are discussed on page 65, not 64.
One thing that might be nice for future versions would be to hyperlink the document. Then you could just tap the hyperlink to jump to that page.
Some of the pictures didn’t have a description, including maps. Some didn’t necessarily require a description, but it would have been nice to know why that specific photo was chosen, or specify where it was located.
The worksheets didn’t provide much space for writing. The answer key was single-spaced making it difficult to read. Also, the answer key didn’t have page numbers, which made it difficult to print out and keep in order.
I would highly recommend The Master and His Apprentices. If you want a complete curriculum, this is a good option for you. Your high schooler can be work through the lessons independently and complete the assigned work. If you follow the syllabus provided, it will be enough work for a full credit as an elective course.