What Makes a Masterpiece?

monalisa miro

When teaching our children to look at and appreciate fine art, I caution mothers to be careful in their choices. Just because a particular painting is popular today, does not mean it is worthy of our attention. I appreciate Charlotte Mason’s definition of a true work of art:

“Art is great only in proportion to the greatness of the idea that it expresses; while what we ask of the execution, the technique, is that it shall be adequate to the inspiring idea.”

I teach my children the three main ingredients necessary for great art:

It must be a thing of beauty
It must require great skill
It must express a worthy idea

There are only so many artists that we will have time to explore. In light of this, we have chosen to focus our picture study only on artists that meet these timeless standards. During the high school years, we delve more deeply into the artists’ worldviews and examine the more controversial art forms of modern art, but in the early years, our goal is to develop a keen eye for beauty, one that appreciates a true work of art.

The following video by Roger Scruton is required viewing in our high schoolers' curriculum: