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Take One Picture 2017

Issued May 2017

7 June – 24 September 2017
Gallery G and Annenberg Court
Admission free

This summer, the National Gallery will showcase the work of children from across England in the 22nd annual Take One Picture exhibition. Take One Picture aims to inspire a lifelong love of art and learning by promoting the role of visual arts within education.

Each year the National Gallery encourages primary school teachers and children to focus on one painting from the collection and respond creatively to its themes, subject matter, historical context, or composition. This year, A Roman Triumph by Peter Paul Rubens’s was chosen for the wide-ranging learning opportunities it offers across the curriculum.

Children’s entries were inspired by the people, animals, and architecture they discovered in Rubens’s work. From architectural studies and printmaking to ceramics and shadow puppets, the exhibition will feature a diverse range of works reflecting the richness of creative responses to the artwork.

'A Roman Triumph', which is on display in Gallery A of the National Gallery, is directly inspired by Andrea Mantegna's 'Triumphs of Caesar' (London, Hampton Court, Royal Collection), which Rubens would have seen in Mantua as a young man, and also from woodcuts. Rubens’s composition depicts a triumphal procession which was the greatest honour that could be given to a Roman general and was usually awarded to celebrate a great military campaign or victory. This painting is full of tumultuous movement and viewers are made to feel like spectators watching the parade from the roadside. The dancing maidens and animals on the right and left sides of the composition are abruptly truncated. This adds to the overall sense of movement and gives the impression that only a section of this continuous parade is made visible, that even more is happening outside of the frame.

Year 3 pupils from Kenmont Primary School, London, discussed the procession in the painting and the triumphs of the Romans throughout Great Britain. Children decided to make a concertina book of Roman triumphs in London following the route of the River Thames. Their art teacher explained:

“The children learned that the Romans invaded England in AD43 and, having landed in Kent, they made their way to the River Thames. The Romans built a bridge over the Thames and there has been a 'London Bridge' in the same area ever since.”

Year 1 pupils from Loughton Manor First School, Milton Keynes, focused on the animals in the painting and on the elephants in particular. Investigating the dimensions of a real elephant, they created their own life-sized female baby elephant sculpture. To construct their elephant, children calculated how many two-litre drink bottles were needed to make the legs. Two classes made the legs, while a third class made the elephant’s body shell from chicken wire. Children dyed fabric to create elephant skin and created a felt headdress to finish the project. Louis, aged 6, explains:

“I really liked fixing the wire for the elephant body because I have never done something like this before.”

Year 2 pupils from the same school focused their attention on the adornments worn by the elephants; in particular the saddle covers (jhools). Children studied many images of saddle covers, mostly from India, and explored pattern, colour, and materials used to make them. They discussed the cultural symbolism of certain colours and designed their own saddle covers using fabric paints and pens on calico. These were attached to a larger piece of fabric to produce a collaborative work – an elephant saddle cover large enough to adorn the life-sized baby elephant sculpture created by the Year 1 students. Anna, aged 7, explains:

“I loved making the design and choosing bright colours like the ones we saw on the Indian elephants.”

Gill Hart, Head of Education at the National Gallery, says:

“This year’s 'Take One Picture' exhibition is once again wonderfully imaginative and varied. Pupils, with their teachers, artists, and members of local communities have been inspired by Rubens’s 'Roman Triumph' in multiple cross-curricular ways. The painting has enriched history, literacy, and numeracy projects. It has also been used to deliver art and design projects and contributes to the Gallery’s commitment to advocating the role of art and design in education. We’re humbled and delighted by the work produced as a result of the talent and commitment of these teachers and the imaginative enquiry of all the pupils who participate.”

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says:

“The 'Take One Picture' programme taps into the extraordinary creativity in a large number of schools across the country. I am thrilled that we are hosting the exhibition which showcases the work that teachers and children have done with Rubens’s 'Roman Triumph'.”

Take One Picture is generously supported by GRoW @ Annenberg, Annenberg Foundation, The Dorset Foundation, The Tavolozza Foundation, Christoph Henkel, and other donors.

The schools represented in the 2017 display are:
Brighton College Prep School, Brighton
Clapham Manor School, London
Clayesmore Preparatory School, Dorset
Edward Wilson Primary School, London
Harlands Primary School, West Sussex
Hartsbourne Primary School, Hertfordshire
Hornbill School, Brunei
Kenmont Primary School, London
Kingswood Parks Primary School, Hull
Loughton Manor First School, Milton Keynes
Lunt's Heath Primary School, Cheshire
Moreton Hall School, Shropshire
Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Primary School, Essex
Pooles Park Primary School, London
Soho Parish Primary School, London
St Cuthbert’s C of E Primary School, Leicestershire
Takeley Primary School, Essex
The Rissington School, Gloucestershire
The Wilfred Owen School, Shrewsbury
Thomas’s Kensington Preparatory School, London


About Take One Picture
Launched in 1995, 'Take One Picture' is the National Gallery’s countrywide scheme for primary schools. Each year the Gallery focuses on one painting from the collection to inspire cross-curricular work in primary classrooms. As part of a one-day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course at the Gallery, teachers are given a print of a painting and a soundscape that the National Gallery has put together. The challenge is then for schools to use the image imaginatively in the classroom, both as a stimulus for artwork, and for work in more unexpected curriculum areas.

Each year a display of work produced by schools based on the painting is shown at the National Gallery, and a selection is published on the National Gallery’s website. In order to be considered for the display, schools submit examples of how a whole class or school has used the picture in a cross-curricular way to the Gallery’s Education Department by a set date.

Read further information about the programme, related CPD courses for teachers and the annual Take One Picture exhibition at the National Gallery.

About Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens was born in Siegen in Germany; from the age of 10 he lived and went to school in Antwerp. His first job, at the age of 13, was as court page to a countess. It was a prestigious position for a young man, but Rubens found it stifling and began training as an artist. As soon as he had completed his training, he set out for Italy in order to see for himself the great Renaissance and Classical works that he knew from copies. For eight years, he travelled and worked in Spain, copying and incorporating the techniques of Renaissance and Classical art.

In 1609, at the age of 33, he was appointed court painter to the rulers of the Netherlands, the Archduke Albert and his wife Isabella. The following year, he married his own Isabella – Isabella Brandt. Rubens was a remarkable individual. Not only was he an enormously successful painter whose workshop produced a staggering number of works; but he also played an important diplomatic role in 17th-century European politics. He spent several months in England where he carried out several commissions for Charles I who was a passionate collector of art. One of the commissions that Rubens was to carry out for Charles was the decoration of the ceiling of his new Banqueting House at Whitehall.

For further information and images please contact the National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or

Publicity images can be obtained from